Back in the day, I played bridge. In those golden olden days, “no Trump” was a bid. It didn’t have extra meanings. Just a contract bid. Three no trump equaled “a game.” Seven no trump was THE bid, to take every trick and the high card of the led suit won. Even a two of clubs could take a trick.
I loved playing bridge. I learned to play when I was a kid and by the time I was a grown-up, I was an addict. I never played tournaments and I never played for money. I played because it was the most intense game in the world (I’m sure chess players might disagree). But the thing about Bridge is that it’s a team sport and the aggressive energy involved is intense, especially between partners.
No one ever argues with their opponents, but everyone fights with his or her partner.
Bridge is as addictive as drugs. Maybe even more so because there’s nothing illegal about playing Bridge. All you need is a partner and another couple to make a foursome. A table. Four chairs. A bit of light. Pretzels, too.
I used to play bridge a lot. I was one of the crazed players who didn’t think there was anything unusual about watching the dawn rise over a hand of cards.
The entire time I lived in Israel, playing Bridge was our prime form of entertainment. There were people to whom you couldn’t usually talk. If you think today’s USA is divided, Israel was really divided. Between the super religious and the absolutely non-religious, there were more hot topics to avoid that you could shake a stick at. Talking to people you didn’t know well was like walking through a minefield.
But if they played Bridge, somehow, you could ignore all the other disagreements because when you played bridge, what you talked about was Bridge.
And that could be quite enough of a battle without bringing in politics, religion and all that entailed.
Bidding. Contracts. Great games you remembered. Hilarious games. Weird games. Bridge players have their own sense of humor, which has nothing to do with anything except Bridge.
When Garry and I became a serious thing, I was appalled to discover I’d finally met a man who really — no kidding — didn’t know a diamond from a club.
He had never even played poker.
How do you make it through basic training in the Marines without learning to play poker? At first, I hoped I might convince him to give it a try, but it was soon obvious it wouldn’t happen. Garry doesn’t play games unless they involve movies or sports.
He is a vicious Trivial Pursuits player, but that’s it. He doesn’t “do” games.
I tried playing Bridge online. In those early online days, you had to pay to play. I played Bridge during lunch hour at work. I had played Bridge at college instead of going to class. You don’t interrupt a good game for a class!
But playing Bridge requires you have at least one regular partner and having a spare is a good idea, too. Playing with our spouse as your partner is dangerous for many reasons, but a single bridge player is like a car with three wheels.
It doesn’t roll.
So, as time moved on, I yielded, realizing I was never going to play bridge again. I have since met other reformed Bridge players and we talk, yearn, and dream of the old days. The long nights with pretzels and cards. Icy cokes and occasionally, beer nuts.
That was a good life!
Trump was the top suit for which it helped to hold all the aces. I’d probably be embarrassed to bid these days.