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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Spice of life | From bridging the gap to playing bridge

In the words of playwright Somerset Maugham, “Bridge is the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised.”

punjab Updated: Jun 29, 2017 13:32 IST
Promil Dada
Promil Dada
Hindustan Times
(Photo: iStockphoto)

I grew up in a home where playing cards was forbidden. My mother thought and conveyed that playing any game of cards would lead to gambling and where it was an admonition for the boys in the family, it was almost a criminal offence for us poor girls. But when I was around 30, I got drawn to the game of bridge.

Reading about it in books and interpreting it as a game of intellectuals and the elite, its attraction took seed in my mind. In the words of playwright Somerset Maugham, “Bridge is the most entertaining and intelligent card game the wit of man has so far devised.”

But somehow nothing was happening. We could not find anyone ready to teach us the game, with the children at the age when we were needed it was difficult to get down to the learning process. There seemed to be a chasm between what we wanted and what was happening. It took 20 years to find like-minded people with the time and inclination to match.

Then lo and behold! We started playing bridge. As with most of the desired things in life, the start was tough. Like the baby’s first steps, we stumbled umpteen times. Our teacher was at her tethers end trying to tell us to read up on the matter she had given us. We got reprimanded for not doing so. But we persevered. Gradually, our minds opened up to the endless probabilities of the game and the countless challenges each hand presented. We don’t play with stakes. The result of our teacher refusing to play with stakes and my mom’s forbidden words ringing sharp and strong in my ears even now, we are nevertheless hooked to the game nice and proper.

Coming to the people in the bridge group, when we started, we knew each other but not that well. Just as the rules unfolded, there was an easing up on the inhibitions we all live with and we all started to ‘discover’ each other. Considerate, caring and fun friends we have become. There is a great deal of sharing – information, goodies, recipes, tips on just about anything, anecdotes, eats et al. Just as each playing day is different so is the interaction. All of us put aside a lot of duties and commitments to be able to make a foursome for our bridge table! We finally managed to bridge the bridge gap.

Now I feel we are on solid ground and will take the game and the experience forward. No baby steps anymore, it is hop, skip and jump all the way. Not that one ever knows all about the game. In the words of bridge player Al Lochli, “I am still learning. I will never get it all.”

Finally, as American bridge player Bob Lipsitz says, “Every hand an adventure is what bridge is all about. It is the ultimate in intellectual competition. As you learn more, ever-increasing vistas unfold for your experimentation and enjoyment. Once you try it, you’ll never give it up.”

The writer is a Ludhiana-based freelance contributor

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 13:31 IST