Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

February 14, 2008

Fortunately, bridge remains just a game

I've been playing bridge again, a couple times a month after several years of none at all. For me, bridge is like a mystery story - it takes all my attention for a while, but once I have closed the book or put the cards back in the box, there's no carry-over to get in the way of serious thinking.

I began playing bridge when I was about 12 - but it was a very different game from the duplicate that is so popular now. Point-count had not been invented, and we were supposed to have two quick tricks in order to open the bidding.

Four members of the family would sit down at the card table on a wet Saturday afternoon, and play a hand or two before Mother excused herself to tend to something in the kitchen, and someone else would take her place.

Then Daddy might be called to the telephone, and someone else would sit down in his seat. Mother would return, to be offered Daddy's chair. That kind of musical chairs would continue until dinnertime called it quits. The scores were added up, and North-South was declared the winning team, but everyone had occupied one or the other of both places in the course of the afternoon and no one could be declared a winner.

We didn't pass cards under the table, or try to peek in each other's hands, but we were lenient about what would be major sins in serious bridge games.

Aunt Bessie, for instance, was not sent from the table when she announced, "I can't bid, Partner, but I can help.'' Cards led out of turn were taken back without penalty, and credit was given for honors even after the hand had been completed. We played cards strictly for pleasure.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
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