Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Bridge Weekend

"The real test of a bridge player isn't in keeping out of trouble, but in escaping once he's in."

I started playing bridge in the spring of 2001 when I was studying abroad in Scotland. I was there with my friends Paul, Andi, and Alyssa, and we were looking for something to do one night. "Do you guys want to play bridge?" Paul innocently asked. And we never looked back.

We played everywhere. In pubs, on trains, in hostels, but mostly in the common room of my dorm (David Russell Hall or DRH as those in the know would call it). Chris came to visit us for a week or so in the spring and we brought him into the fold. We took our little bridge club back to the States with us, and that's how I met Selvi and Sarah; they lived on the same hall as Andi and Alyssa and would come hang out in the Old Dominion common area at William and Mary when we would get together and play.

We added even more people to the group; Eric and Pete from the concert band, who helped us carry on the club when most everyone else graduated in 2002. I stayed for law school and we brought in Kristin and Jennifer my roommate to keep the club going. I can't remember how often we would meet, but it was at least once a week and usually involved heavy drinking of some kind. Which meant our scores and strategy were somewhat fast and loose. Just like your Mom. Oh, did I mention the your Mom jokes??

But as these things tend to happen, we all started drifting away from one another. People got married and moved, it became harder and harder to get four people in the same room to play in person and life kept getting in the way of playing online in the evenings. So we finally decided to do something about it. We rallied the troops, picked a weekend and a point on the map in between, and agreed to meet up for a weekend of fun and well-mannered frivolity. Well, perhaps not that well-mannered.

"Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." 

Since we had 10 people getting together and needed room enough to actually play, we decided to rent a house in the Massanutten ski resort off I-81 in Virginia near Luray Caverns. It was perfect; enough bedrooms for everyone, a hot tub, a large dining room table, and a card table and folding chairs. And since we had 8 players, we had just enough people to get two games going.

Of course seeing everyone (Paul, his wife Anna, Andi and her husband Jeff, Selvi, Chris, Kent, Eric, and Doug) was the real highlight, I was a bit worried that we would get there and people would just want to sit around and not much bridge-playing would happen. Well, it turns out I was half-right; there was a lot of sitting around but that's because we were playing bridge all weekend! From the moment we had four people who were awake and in the same room until around 2 in the morning, bridge was happening. Sure we took breaks for food, the hot tub, and to watch the Olympics, but for the most part it was all bridge, all the time. And it was AWESOME.

We kept score best we could, but all the games were fluid with people changing partners constantly and moving from table to table. Basically, we were giant bridge sluts. But it kept things interesting and it gave everyone a chance to play with everyone else. Over the years we had cemented certain partnerships: for example, first me and Andi and then me and Chris, but everyone was fair game this weekend!

"We had a partnership misunderstanding. My partner assumed I knew what I was doing."

All in all, it was too much fun to make it a one-time thing. At the very least it will become a yearly tradition, but I think we could shoot for every six months. And if you want to get in on the fun, it's never too late to learn! The actual play of bridge is very similar to spades, the only real difference is that the trump suit can change based on bidding that takes place before the playing starts. Of course, you never really learn all the tricks of the trade. Just remember: points above the line don't count. 

 The scene of the crime, Moccasin Lodge

 In the hot tub! From left to right, Selvi, Me, Eric, Doug, Paul, Anna, and Chris

 Two tables of bridge at once!

 Group photo!

Me and Anna in the hot tub haze.

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