Archive for Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New deal

Bridge aficionados teach youngsters complex game

April 24, 2007

In the world of school activities, everyone is familiar with football and basketball, debate and drama.

But a group of Lawrence residents are trying to make the card game bridge just as much a part of the high school activity scene. Bridge, particularly contract bridge, involves four players in two teams trying to take as many tricks, or sets of four cards, as they can.

Bridge has long been popular among older generations, but its popularity has waned recently in favor of Internet and online games, as well as other card games like poker, says Eldon Herd, a certified bridge instructor who has led two sessions at Bishop Seabury Academy the past two Thursdays.

"Those are solitary games. What we have here is a great social game that requires a lot of thinking," he says.

About 10 students turned out for the inaugural lesson, along with one administrator, Elisabeth Lee, the school's dean of faculty. In addition to Herd, Lou and Virginia Johnston also came to lead bridge tables and help the students learn the game.

"We thought it went just really well. The youngsters seemed to be really having a good time," Virginia Johnston says.

In fact, she says, the group seemed to have so much fun that one of the teachers who attended even planned to bring cards with her to school, so they could keep playing.

"She said if they have a free hour to come by her office and play," Virginia Johnston says.

Justin Esau, a senior at Seabury, had played bridge before the Thursday lesson, but only a little.

"I learned the game this past week in Aspen, Colorado," he says. "It makes me think a lot. I'm not very good at counting cards, but it's fun to see how many I can get to."

Within short order, Esau and his partner were winning hands at a regular rate. Of course, Esau may just be naturally predisposed to bridge. He says his grandmother has played for a long time.

"She lives in Hutchinson. Her and one of her friends play fairly religiously. I believe they even went to nationals once," Esau says.

The in-school sessions are only the beginning, however, of what the Johnstons and Herd hope will be regular sessions this summer on how to play bridge -- and how to get better.

Johnston says eight sessions will be held at Seabury starting in June. Students can come and learn the ropes for a small fee, which will be returned to those who complete the class. All students, not just those at Seabury, are welcome to take part in the summer classes.Seabury senior Jenn Crawford has played before and couldn't resist the chance to come out for the lessons. She took them as a chance to learn things she couldn't otherwise pick up.

"I learned to play bridge with my family a while ago," she says. "Ever since then, I've been teaching other people."

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