The retirees who form the core of the Bridge-at-the-Village bridge club of Scotia Village came to the game at different times and in different ways.
Whether they learned to play in the 1940s when bridge surged in popularity following modifications in scoring made by Harold Vanderbilt or whether they came to it more recently as a form of entertaining diversion, the club’s members have met every Monday for the last two years for a similar reason.
The Laurinburg group hopes to attract players from across the region for a tournament next month.
“For many of the people in this club it’s a social event,” said Brian Potter, director of Bridge-at-the-Village. “They come here and meet with their friends and talk and play cards.”
Bridge players run the gamut from recreational weekly players to professionals, who play in national and international tournaments consisting of three two to three hour games daily.
“The skill here is to keep track of which cards have been played so that you can figure out which cards are still left and who has them,” Potter said. “It’s a feat of short-term memory. Bridge is a game you can play if you’re blind or severely physically disabled, as long as you have the mental stamina. This is harder work than a full-time job if you’re taking it seriously.”
Regardless of whether they regard it as an enjoyable game or, like nonagenarian Mary Caroline Rogers who would hitch a ride to the Sandhills Bridge Studio every day given the opportunity, as a do-or-die avocation, Bridge-at-the-Village’s members agree that the game is a good method of mental stimulation
“It makes my brain work,” said Marjorie Coughenour, a Scotia Village resident who has played bridge since 1946. “That’s about all I do out here to keep it working.”
“It’s a game where you mix with other people, but the challenge is to keep learning because it’s like an onion,” added Gail Lockamy, who has played along with her husband Jim for over a decade. “You learn this much and then you find out that there’s another layer of stuff to learn and another layer of stuff to learn. That’s what makes it interesting.”
Thought to be enjoyed mainly by the elderly, bridge does have a healthy contingent of youth players and is enjoyed equally by men and women, though it is arguable which sex enjoys the greatest advantage.
“There are plenty of people who argue that women are, in fact, at an advantage, because they don’t take it so seriously therefore they can be dispassionate in making their judgements,” Potter said. “But it seems to me, precisely because men do tend to take a game more seriously than women, in many cases men study harder.”
Bridge-at-the-Village was formed early in 2011 to boost the competitiveness of Scotia Village residents in games with sister homes in High Point and Cary, but the club is branching out next month and hosting a nationally-recognized sectional tournament that may even attract a younger crowd.
Sponsored by Unit 119 of the American Contract Bridge League, the Valentine Sectional Bridge Tournament will be held at Scotia Village from Feb. 8-10.
“This is big,” said Bridge-at-the-Village member Mac Doubles. “Players will be coming from Virginia to Georgia to play. This is the first year and usually we’re told it takes several years for these tournaments to develop a draw.”
The tournament, chaired by Scotia Village resident Betty Hasty, could attract from 40 to 160 players, and is one of two sectional tournaments to be held in NC in February. Play will begin on Feb. 8 with a charity open pairs game at 1:30 p.m., but players should arrive earlier in order to register and receive seat assignments.
Three rounds of play will be held on Feb. 9, beginning at 9 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., with two Swiss Team rounds on Feb. 10 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. In a Swiss Team event, each team plays six to nine board matches against a number of teams, and successive matches are arranged by pairing teams with approximately equal records as the game progresses. Lunch will be provided to players on both days.
All are welcome to participate in the Valentine Sectional Bridge Tournament, and those inexperienced in duplicate bridge are invited to join Bridge-at-the-Village on Monday evenings from 6-9 p.m. to hone their skills.
For information about the tournament, contact Doubles at 277-7512 or email@example.com.