A new bridge in town?
I wasn’t raised in a family of game-nighters or card players, yet, years ago at a phase of life when I could ill afford extra mental bandwidth or spare time, I tentatively began bridge lessons. Under the best of scenarios this game of memory and strategy is learned over years and barely mastered in a lifetime. Despite participating in lessons taught by a well respected, world class bridge player/teacher and fellow Carlislean, I was unable to progress much beyond the basics: a game played by four people, paired as partners; 52 shuffled cards evenly dealt among them; each partnership utilizes ‘bids’ (a secret form of communication) for one player to win the right to control the play of the game. After such a discouraging start I pushed the pause button—for a decade.
My interest in bridge was recently resuscitated by a desire to become one day a mature adult with an active mind. (The latter, a much more attainable goal for me personally, than the former.) I had also invested a small fortune in books, cheat sheets, and lessons, not to mention hours of studying, pondering and playing that I could either leverage or waste. I hope not to follow through on my promise to put all of it in a pile and toss in a match. However, my fellow players have heard me more than once proclaim, “when I quit for good the pyre shall be like no other.” Not to worry, Chief Flannery, I’ll get a permit.
What I failed to comprehend on my first attempt to learn this game was the key to successful bridge bidding: an absolute understanding of an implicit form of communication. It’s the ultimate oxymoron! The secret bidding language of the game is merely a hint of a suggestion as to what is being communicated. The ever shifting sands of meaning are based in part on mutual understanding, the timing of the bid, and by whom the bid is made. Welcome to the (often) confusing world of bridge.
I’ve come to appreciate that bridge is a metaphor for life. It is best played with a partner, sometimes the same partner for years and sometimes one has multiple partners concurrently—no judgment. The basis of this partnership is to have fun and grow and learn together while attempting to exercise one of our largest organs. The brain, of course, is right up there with the move-it-or-lose-it group of muscles. Excellent intercourse is at its very core. In bridge and life we yearn to be understood. Miscommunication and mistakes are anticipated. The fallible human heart and mind are prone to a hiccup now and again. Forgiveness is expected. We players in this game—and in life—should not be on a quest for perfection, but strive to make fewer mistakes along the way.
[Ed note: Bridge has become so popular in town, a Carlisle tournament will be held on Friday, June 22 of Old Home Day weekend.]