Bridge is more than just a card game, it’s an intellectual challenge, a sport, a source of comradeship and for some, a way of life.
“It’s one of the better activities around,” avid bridge player Peter McLaren said.
“When I moved to Prince Albert in 1966, some of the first people I met were members of this new club and their first question was, ‘Do you play bridge?’”
Having played bridge on a casual basis through university, he was keen on joining the Prince Albert Duplicate Bridge Club, which formed a couple years previous.
Now, 46 years later, McLaren has become a Gold Life Master — a prestigious ranking within the American Contract Bridge League, which the local group of about 70 bridge enthusiasts is a part of.
He was also ranked within the top 10 North American Bridge players about 15 years ago, not that he’s the only local bridge player with Bridge prestige.
Within the local ranks is Hannah Moon, who in 2010 became the first woman in Canadian bridge history to hoist the Richmond Trophy, which is awarded to the Canadian bridge player whose yearly point total is the highest.
“She does play at the club, but often she’s off across the North American circuit,” fellow bridge player Daniel Poirier said.
Although many members take bridge to a competitive level, some people show up at Prince Albert Duplicate Bridge Club games for comradeship and fun.
“There’s probably a tendency at the club level, there are players that like to play the game only to be social,” McLaren said.
I think of it as a sport. It’s a mind sport, but really, that’s what it is, and so you can play most sports socially or competitively, or a mix of both. - Bridge enthusiast Peter McLaren
Similar to golf, handicaps are awarded to players to keep everyone on a relatively even keel.
“I think of it as a sport. It’s a mind sport, but really, that’s what it is, and so you can play most sports socially or competitively, or a mix of both,” McLaren said.
There are lots of ins and outs to the game, with players spending many years to earn positive rankings within the American Contract Bridge League.
In hopes of increasing their ranks and exposing more people to his game of choice, Poirier is heading bridge lessons, which begin on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Over 15 weeks between November and March, minus a break at Christmas, he’ll head the group, which anyone 15 years or older is encouraged to join. The les $50 fee includes a bridge lesson book.
Participants can discover a new hobby, or something even more, McLaren said.
“I have played in other countries, but not as a qualifier representing Canada,” McLaren said. “I’ve played in competitions to represent Canada, but I haven’t succeeded yet.”
Those already familiar with bridge can attend one of the group’s four weekly games, on Monday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
The group meets at 20-14th Street West, on the Third floor.
For information on either the club or on the upcoming series of lessons, Poirier can be contacted at 960-5163 or 763-5164.