Meet the bridge crowd
She plays with her husband and has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to persuade her friends to join her.
Bridge keeps you sharp as a tack, says Peter Pigot, a third-generation player and teacher whose family is considered bridge royalty. He teaches classes privately in Dún Laoghaire. His father, also Peter, and grandfather, David, both represented Ireland in the game’s European championships. Peter snr played with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
According to CBAI, research into the game has shown that bridge can boost your immune system, while those who play regularly are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
“Bridge is a sexy game with a stodgy reputation,” says American artist Theresa Nanigan, a poker player who has recently converted to the church of bridge. “The complexity of bridge takes time to understand and is part of the reason you don’t see many twentysomethings rushing to sign up.”
When she was in her 20s, Nanigan “was far too busy working in Manhattan to have any kind of a hobby” and would have been put off by the game’s turgid reputation. But its approval ratings are recovering, with soirees popping up among the time- and cash-poor.
“It’s more social than chess, and on a night in or out there are plenty of opportunities for humour,” says Pigot.
American railroad tycoon Harold S Vanderbilt is credited with creating the modern game of contract bridge. According to Sports Illustrated, the game was devised one autumn evening, in 1925, aboard the liner Finland, while Vanderbilt and three friends were on a cruise from San Francisco to Havana. The game was popularised by Ely Culbertson, who introduced it to Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
In Ireland the ratio of bridge players is 70 per cent women to 30 per cent men, according to Paul Porteous – good odds if you’re single and looking for smarts in your woman. The competition season has just started, but you need to grapple the basics before you reach those dizzy heights.
Look on your local notice boards to find classes taking place in your area or contact the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland, which runs classes countrywide using trained teachers. Most novices will do two sets of classes; one before Christmas and one after.
See cbai.ieor peterpigotbridge.comfor more details on classes