Bridge on commuter trains still happens

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August 1, 2014

“Bridge to Somewhere” is an account by Katie Kather, of one such foursome–men only–on the Metra train from LaGrange to Union Station in Chicago–carried by WBEZ 91.5 Chicago in October 2013.

“One of the men brings the red felt for the briefcase table, but if he doesn’t show, another always has a backup towel. If neither shows up, the men use a newspaper . . . . Instead of getting one card at a time, they get a bunch all at once. That speeds up the game. . . . You might end up with somebody with seven or eight cards in one suit  . . . another guy with seven or eight cards of a different suit . . . .”

In commuter bridge the idea is to play as many hands as possible—“They don’t wrap up the game until the train pulls into the last stop.”

Read the whole thing at

For this second series of bridge blogs, I wanted to include stuff I didn’t get around to using in the first blog series. “Bridge to Somewhere” is Kather’s observations, as she commuted by train to grad school and three part-time jobs, on a group of men in the third car playing bridge.

She discovers they’ve been playing 10 to 20 years—attorney Don Veverka, 78, being the longest playing, but they range in age from 30s to 70s. And they have substitutes—men who sit near and fill in should one be absent or join in when one of the foursome “gets off at Halsted.”

The story brought back memories for me, and commuting from Long Island at age 18 (in 1938) to my first depression-era job in Manhattan. Then there were several bridge games going on—always men only–choicest location was the two foursomes (on either side of the aisle) just behind the bar car. No one dared take their seats! If they did, the conductor would ask them to move.

Did their bridge game rouse my curiosity back then as this foursome did Katie’s? No it did not, I was aware of them, but with my nose in a book instead, not curious.

Katie, on the other hand, as a freelance arts and culture reporter, talked to them and got her story. She notes that the men “when pushed, none . . . would even admit to being friends . . . they don’t know each other’s last names” despite playing bridge for 10 to 20 years.

I wrote her a fan letter to compliment her on that astute observation on the gender difference between men’s and women’s social bridge–women do become friends and decades-lasting bridge clubs become–beyond a card game–therapy.

More on Commuter Bridge in the next blog . . .







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