Meet the bridge crowd
In bridge, two pairs of partners play and take turns bidding on how many tricks, or rounds of cards, they think they will win. Partners signal each other what kind of cards they hold and which card suit they want to be “trump”, or winner over all other suits. “King to three; king queen to five; queen to three” is bridge speak for a hand of 13 cards, spades, through hearts, to diamonds and clubs, a language that is going to become more familiar as the card game is dusted down and introduced to a new audience.
Interior designer Mary Ryder took up the game a year ago and is a self-confessed a bridge fanatic. She has great fun playing with other beginners. It’s like “mental cocaine”, she says. “Once you start there’s a whole ‘rush’ aspect to it.” She is hooked.
Really? To cards? Really, says Ryder. “People play on all different levels. I get just as much enjoyment out of it as old hands do.” It helps, she says, if you like solving problems, have good card sense and a pictorial memory.
Derick Mulvey is a theatrical agent with MacFarlane Chard, looking after clients such as Saoirse Ronan, Bronagh Gallagher, Angeline Ball and Frank Kelly. A relative newbie to playing bridge, it is not “as fussy or as staid” as he had expected. Ryder introduced him to the game and he now holds bridge afternoons on Sundays. “I start at four in the afternoon and kick everyone out before 11pm. It’s social, provides a medium for conversation and allows you do something while being entertained.”
His interest is such that bridge parlance has seeped into his everyday life. “When you start using bridge terms in real life you know you’ve become a bridge geek,” he says, admitting to using terms such as “finessing” in his day job. “It means getting away with it,” he says. “It is a sort of grander term for spoofing.”
Psychiatrist Stephanie Bourke’s parents were avid players. During her teens and 20s she avoided engaging in their pursuit but has recently discovered bridge for herself. It was a revelation, she says.
“I understood that my parents had years of fun developing and learning the game. From a mental-health point of view it is a structured game that uses learned skills, it is social and stimulating, offers contact and has huge positives to it. If you keep it up you can play forever.”