08. Bridge: Friendly Bridge & the Ruff’n Sluff Bridge Club

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I had a motive to Google “Atlanta Bridge Clubs” and found an equally friendly website to that in Richmond–the Ruff’N Sluff Bridge Club in Atlanta’s nearby Marietta. It has a wonderfully smiling owner–Priscilla Smith–at top left to start with and everything about this website spells “Welcome!” [http://www.mindspring.com/~ruffnsluff/]

The photo of the owner that greets you. The catchy name. Great use of color. Priscilla’s biography (written by Kathy Whidden of Pips & Tips, whatever that is) only enhances her photo image–“Priscilla is talented, knowledgeable, smart, and witty . . . with a twinkle in her eye.”

Ruff ‘N Sluff offers clean cards, great snacks, free lunch on Wednesday, free soup another day, Potluck Sunday at 4, come with or without a partner and strict enforcement of zero tolerance rule–for rude behavior that is. And it too offers the ACBL Easybridge program which, from what I’ve read, has you actually playing bridge from Day One.

The reason I checked out Atlanta is that one-third of my children and half of my grandchildren live there. My son did play bridge during college (Georgia Tech)–perhaps he (with a friendly bridge club) could get at least one grandchild involved? Actually, both bridge clubs that turned up Googling Atlanta have welcoming websites–Ruff ‘N Sluff had the more intriguing name.

When I Googled “friendly bridge clubs” I got very odd results.

It struck me as odd that in the first five pages of citations most were for Britain!  One of the British clubs even offered lessons for both duplicate and social bridge. There were a couple citations for Australia, one in Bangkok of all places, Yale University and a few in the U.S. (Texas, Santa Clara in California, Fort Lauderdale, Raleigh in North Carolina).

Since when did the Brits (with a reputation for being a bit less extroverted in social relationships) turn out to be more friendly than Americans? At least one club there called itself the so-and-so Friendly Bridge Club.

Seems to me, the people of the bridge establishment–ACBL bridge clubs–should consider this fact:  the only place where both kinds of bridge is regularly played in America, far as I know, is in senior centers. Does this not just reinforce (in public perception) the idea that bridge is a game for the elderly?

Why not experiment with ACBL Bridge Clubs becoming a welcoming place for both kinds of younger bridge players–those who are naturals to learn duplicate serious bridge, and those who are not? Provide an alternative for those who start duplicate and decide to drop out? Or who never want to play duplicate?

I’m not saying neglect your primary mission (space and volunteers required may be stretched already) but  be a place where, say, newcomers to town could call to find out about sociable bridge clubs in town and connect up with them? A place to find bridge teachers willing to teach bridge for the social player–say, four players willing to chip in for cost and take turns hosting the lesson in their home.

Perhaps what I’m suggesting is already happening?


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