Bridge is easy to learn and challenging to master, says player and expert Jim Ricker. He leads games for beginning and intermediate players at the Knoxville Bridge Center at 7400 Deane Hill Drive.
“You can play for 50 years and still learn new things,” Ricker says.
If you’ve wanted to learn, the center is hosting a Learn Bridge in a Day seminar Saturday, Jan. 19, from 1 p.m. to about 5 or 5:15. (You’ll want to get there about 12:30 so play can start promptly.) The cost is $30, and refreshments and course materials will be provided.
Saturday’s instructor is Evelyn Jackson, accredited through the American Contract Bridge League. She says students will learn basic opening bids, responses and scoring methods. There will be some paper exercises to practice scoring, and the day will end with several hands of bridge.
Jackson is also the instructor for a new series of beginning bridge classes, which meet 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 22. Each session is $5.
On any given day at the Knoxville Bridge Center, there might be 70 to 80 people playing for about three hours each session. Games are stratified with beginning and intermediate players on some days and experienced players on others. Each table plays the same hand, so that the players aren’t just competing with those at the table with them, but with everyone else who holds that position.
It can be quite competitive, Jackson says, which is another appealing trait. People also seek out the game because they want to stay sharp: Both she and Ricker mention recent research that suggests that learning new skills – particularly ones concerned with math or logic – can boost brain health.
Jackson says one of the primary appeals of bridge “is the social aspect. People become lifetime friends,” she says. Ricker agrees. He and his wife, Patti, knew nothing about bridge when she spotted the sign on Deane Hill that said “beginners welcome.” Now they can’t imagine life without bridge club.
“It becomes a family,” Ricker says.