The ambiance and camaraderie at the Golden Isles Duplicate Bridge Club stuck out to Barbara Bruce the first time she played there almost 20 years ago.
After moving to the Golden Isles with her husband and mother, Bruce wanted to find an activity that would help get her mother “out and about” to socialize with the locals. She decided to take her mother to the local bridge club.
“Going to the bridge club was a path for us to get involved with the local scenery as opposed to just our family and our church,” Bruce said. “This was really good for us.”
Bruce’s mother taught her how to play bridge when she was 13 years old. After putting the game on the back burner for a couple of years, Bruce said she was glad to pick it back up and play again.
Jeff Young, the president of the Golden Isles Duplicate Bridge Club, explained that duplicate bridge can be a very intellectual game, similar to playing chess. It can be played at an extremely high level, but it can also be played over the kitchen table for fun.
During a duplicate bridge game, each player has a partner and every pair in the room plays the same hand of cards. The goal is to bid and play your hand of cards better than all of the other pairs of players, Young said.
“It (playing duplicate bridge) is an opportunity to learn, to grow and to engage in something that’s really challenging and competitive,” Bruce said.
Young said the Golden Isles Duplicate Bridge Club began back in the 1950s during the height of the game’s popularity. Today, the club continues to provide a social environment for locals to enjoy and play duplicate bridge with one another on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday.
“There are many singles out there, people in their 60s and 70s and 80s who are alone and this (bridge club) is their connection to the world,” Young said.
Besides socializing with others at the club, Bruce said she also loves how the club strives to give back to the community and raise funds for different charities.
The club recently held its annual “The Longest Day” charity event on Wednesday to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, the national charity sponsored by the American Contract Bridge League. The Golden Isles Duplicate Bridge Club sponsored three games during the fundraiser. Last year, the local club raised $6,000, Young said.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shut their doors for a year, the Golden Isles Duplicate Bridge club experienced a decrease in membership and participation. By the end of 2021, the club had a total of 169 members compared to the 240 registered prior to the pandemic.
Young said he hopes to get the word out to people that the club is still alive and hosts games regularly.
“Before the pandemic, we had two games a day, every day. Because our table count has fallen off so much, we are probably doing 50% of what we used to do so that’s our push to get our name out there,” Young said.
The bridge club also offers fall and spring classes during the year along with private teachers to help people learn the basics or improve their game. To find more information on how to sign up for a class or game, visit the club’s website bridgewebs.com/goldenisles.
Young said that besides the breaks they take for the major holidays, the club is almost always open for people to play a game.
“People come in, play cards, go out and get something to eat with their friends and bridge is the facilitation for that,” Young said. “It brings a lot of people together. It really does.”