Lake Life


Duplicate Bridge players match wits – not luck
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–The game of bridge has continued to evolve since made popular in America in the 20s by Ely Culbertson.
One of its most recent transformation was the introduction of duplicate bridge.
Though around since the 50s and 60s most players are only familiar with the “party bridge” or rubber bridge form.
Duplicate bridge offers the competitive player a chance to match wits with other players, who then play the exact same hand.
The player who gains the most points for any given hand, leaves with satisfaction of a wisely played game more dependent on strategy and his own powers of reasoning than on luck.
Gloria Rowland recalls her introduction to the game following a seminar by bridge guru Charles Goren.
“The following day we started playing the game, and my husband liked it better,” Rowland said.
“Once you’ve tasted the competiveness of duplicate bridge, you don’t ever want ot go back,” she said.
She recounted how when the two were first married every Sunday afternoon was dedicated to playing bridge with his parents.
“In the 50s, it was the social game,” she explained.
Actually Rowland began playing Bridge when she was 12 years old.
She learned while sitting on her daddy’s lap, as did many kids in her generation.
After that, she went on to play with her friends.
In college there was always a game going on in the student union, she said.
And many people enjoyed it whenever they had a spare moment.
“I even played it during my breaks as a pool life guard for the Y,” she said.
The YMCA gave Rowland her first opportunity to teach the game of bridge, which she still enjoys doing today.
In our society, bridge playing –as well as other games –was soon outshadowed by the spreading influence of television.
A whole generation missed out on the mental challenges bridge affords and it stopped being passed on.
Today the average age of American Contract Bridge League members is 61. And the average age in East Texas is 64.
Though its a great game for retired people to help keep their mind active and socially involved, especially for those whose bodies are beginning to fail, if interest in the game is not revived among younger people, it is in danger of dying out, along with its players.
When Rowland moved to the Cedar Creek Lake area, in 1991 after having raised a family, she joined a bridge playing group that met at St. Jude’s fellowship hall.
There were 12 tables on Mondays and Wednesdays.
By 1999, that number greatly dwindled as members died off or retired to nursing homes, she recounted.
And no one was teaching the game locally, so the love of bridge motivated Rowland to return to teaching it.
Today, at the age of 75, Rowland is still teaching. She along with partner Evelyn Schmidt own and operate the Bridge Studio at Cedar Creek Lake on State Highway 198 in Gun Barrel City.
She teaches two sessions a year: one for beginners and one for intermediate players at $5 a lesson.
About 75 players gather weekly and bi-weekly in the smoke-free studio to match wits with others – some coming from as far away as Dallas and Waxahachie, she said.
“I like to think of bridge as the thinking man’s game.
“It requires memorization, analytic and deductive reasoning as well as strategic planning and use of math skills.
Currently, bridge occupies a position of great prestige, and is more comprehensively organised than any other card game.
There are clubs, tournaments and championships throughout the world.
Books and online helps are in abundance on the game of bridge.





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