May 10, 2013

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Burning Bridge(s)

I never attempted the game of bridge until I was a senior in high school, and it has been 20 years since I last played.  In between, there were a few memorable hands – like the kind described in the newspaper’s weekly bridge column – but there were more memorable people.

Bert was a good friend in high school.  He was extremely intelligent.  He was the first Unitarian I ever knew.  He was the first person I knew who brewed home-made root beer in his basement.  He was the first person I knew whose step-father won a Nobel Prize for Medicine.  And he was the person who taught me to play bridge.  It seemed that he was the only member of his social group who knew the game.  In order to satisfy his desire to play and still have friends, he began teaching a few of us the basics.

When we had learned to count the points in our hand and could remember that Spades is the suit above Hearts, we began playing friendly games in our spare time.  I seemed to like it more than some of the others, and by the end of the school year I understood the Stayman Convention and Jacoby Transfers.  I knew what it meant if someone said they bid “Standard American.”  Bert suggested we try our luck at duplicate bridge.

During the summer after our high school graduation, he and I would usually go once a week to the Arvada Bridge Club to play in a duplicate tournament.  The other players were generally the same every week, and most were quite serious about the game.  I remember two middle-aged gentlemen who were always there and who looked exactly like Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee from Alice in Wonderland.  I can’t recall their names, but I knew they were opponents to be reckoned with.  Though Bert and I were always the youngest players, we held our own and even picked up a couple of Masterpoints. Continue reading