IS IT MORE THAN A GAME?


Is Bridge more than a game? I think it is probably the social media of the past; a way of connectivity. Playing cards are believed to have been another invention of China, along with paper, sometime in the 14th century. From China, the interest in card games spread to Persia, India and Egypt before arriving in Europe.

Tarocchi Players of Caso Borromeo, Milan 15th c.

My parents played cards throughout their lives. Game playing was very important during the Great Depression, and people played a great variety of card games along with Bridge, a game which allowed four people to play and demanded a certain degree of skill. My aunt and uncle made up the fourth at the bridge table, and there was no ceremony connected to their decision to sit and have a game of cards. My father was a natural card player who somehow knew what cards each of his opponents held. He was also an impatient player, which led my mother in later life to refuse to play with him. Strangely, none of the next generation of our family have chosen to learn the game. A favorite niece of mine, when offered a suggestion by a kibbitzer, threw her cards in the air and said “I give up!” Though we love games of all kinds, it amazes me to find that many of our friends do not. They much prefer an evening of good conversation, and we find that equally stimulating.

A “Bridge party” soon became a party, complete with food and beverage, and allowed the hostess to trot out her best linen bridge cloths and china, and supply tea and cookies. Hundreds of cookie recipes have been created to keep up with the social obligation of a bridge party.

When in my forties, I joined a group of women most of whom were learning to play the game, and we met once a week learn the finer points. I was late to the game as my interest lay elsewhere at an earlier age. The game takes concentration, and I have to admit that my focus was more on the food and the companionship.

My mother-in-law introduced me to the bridge party having two tables of four players, and as the years passed I found that two or even three tables were expected if you joined a bridge club. Your bridge club was a commitment to however often it was decided to play. If you found you would not be available on that day, it behooved you to get a substitute. Through the years I have belonged to several bridge clubs, some often containing the same women. As women aged, their intensity never waned. My sister-in-law and my best friend each took the game seriously, and would play at the drop of a hat or should I say at the drop of a card?

Game playing of any kind is a competition, and let’s face it, we all like to win. Playing with and against all kinds of men and women over the past 60 years, you can learn a lot about human nature. For those who stick too closely to the rules, I admire them and hope they enjoy their game, but I will be busy that day so you need to get a sub.

One lovely aspect of the bridge party is the sharing of secrets, and keeping up old friendships.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

15 thoughts on “IS IT MORE THAN A GAME?”

  1. I didn’t take the time to learn cards (except for childhood games), and later I regretted that. I admired my mother and older sister for their dedication to the game, and appreciated how they made life long friends through bridge. I do think it helped to keep their minds sharp, and certainly added quality to their years.

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    1. I’m glad I learned when I did, and my husband followed soon after. Some people are more gifted than others in all games. My grandmother didn’t play cards that I remember, but she was a whiz at Chinese Checkers. I agree that it is a wonderful way to make life long friends, and it was always nice to learn more about their various families.

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  2. I remember my parents playing canasta with their friends when they got together. When I was at university, we played bridge when we should have been studying for final exams. There was one prof who played with us sometimes, but he had a photographic memory so it was hardly fair. It’s a good game and I don’t know why I never took it up again.

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    1. Canasta was lots of fun and we often played with in-laws and sister in law. It was nice that you could play with six. Games, after all are a great way to pass the time, A young girl who spent her last year of high school living with us, was already a good bridge player and played in tournaments in college. A cousin of ours became so good he played on cruise ships.

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  3. Playing cards is something you grow up with. It is part of good parenting although playing anything with growing children has to be good. I think monopoly is in that league, although I remember bitter fights with my siblings if winning real estate was gloated over too obviously or the snickering when one ended up in jail.

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    1. It is so important to play with your children. They in turn will pass it along with their own children. It teaches them so many things including fairness, and how to lose–and win. I hate monopoly since I spent the entire night with my best friend and watched the sun come up only to find I had lost.

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  4. I love that description — social media of of the past. It certainly was social. I still remember my childhood excitement when bridge club was going to be at our house: either my mother’s club, or the couples’ club they belonged to. My excitement focused on the food, of course: all the little bowls of nuts and candies and such, as well as the “dessert” at the end, which actually would be a mini-banquet. Eating such cool food at midnight was a big people privilege.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it, because it still is one of my favorite things about my parents: that they went with their whole couples’ club (four couples) and bought their grave plots together, so they could be ready to pick up the games once everyone arrived. My mother was the last — no more need for substitutes after that! Even she laughed about it, and said she hoped that in the heavenly game, one of the guys finally would quit “cheating.”

    How you cheat at bridge I’m not sure, but it was a game I always enjoyed after I learned how to play. That didn’t happen until my general math class in college.

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    1. I could feel your excitement as a child watching your parents bridge parties. I think your mother had the right idea: all buried together so that the game went on. What a lovely thought. I never saw a real bridge party as a child. It was just my parents and aunt and uncle deciding on the spur of the moment. When I married, I got my first taste of how the bridge party was conducted. I thought it very special even though at the time I didn’t play. While learning to play I also learned the finer points of how to put on the party. So all of a sudden I found a use for those lovely white linen embroidered cloths.
      Since I have dropped out of the old group the only time we play is with two lady friends every month or so. Sam didn’t realize the importance of tradition when he began playing with the ‘girls’ , but he’s getting the idea now.

      We used to play impromptu bridge with our sister and brother-in-law and when he died, we tried three handed for awhile.Not much fun though..

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  5. My parents played 500 Rummey on Sunday afternoons. I remember us kids waiting for dinner because they had a rip roaring game going! Now my husband andI play this game. I never learned many card games other than the ‘Old Maid’ and ‘Fish’. Bridge and Canasta have always intrigued me!

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    1. I laughed when I read about you have to wait till the folks got through with their card game before you could eat. It was the same when our kids were growing up. We always had Sunday dinner with my in-laws who lived around the corner. There were five little kids waiting till we all got through with Canasta! The kids table was in the kitchen and they sat impatiently waiting for the ‘big’ people to finish playing. They were good days, and I know all the kids remember it well. Our kids don’t play cards so the grandkids will have different memories. Of course, I don’t think they have “Sunday dinners” anymore,

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  6. I love playing cards and this started at an early age playing whist with my family. My dad was a terrible cheat, if you had to leave the table you always took your cards with you! It was all in good fun though. As a young person we played euchre a lot, in fact obsessively and I still wish I had some people to play this with, such a fun game.

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    1. My father-in-law “cheated” like your dad–all in fun. I have heard of euchre but have no idea how to play. Games are so much fun. I never understood people who don’t like any game. Even little kids play games side by side. It spurs their competitive spirit, otherwise what have we? I had forgotten about whist till recently when we played a few hands and I like it as well as bridge. Not as many decisions!

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  7. One of my fondest memories is playing cards at my grandparents. They taught me how to play several games, including my grandfather’s favorite, Pinochle. I learned it well and liked it. It was quite amusing sometimes, to see me playing with three or four old men and staying at their level — but I love it as much as I loved my grandfather. My grandmother play with us too, but not with the same love of the game and the banter. We also played Parcheesi, checkers, and other card games, but I agree with those responders who said that through games one learns to win, lose, and get to know the others playing. Great memories — and even now, i try to play games with my grandchildren, and they love it. Much better than staring at a computer screen and playing by oneself.

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    1. I love your comment Val, especially regarding your grandfather. They seem to be able to banter better than grandmothers! I watched my husband playing UNO and other games with our children and grandchildren and envied the fun they had. For some reason Grandmothers have a lot more work to be doing while the rest play! We all have our role in life. But I think games at any age are so important for the many values they teach other than fun.

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