Duplicate bridge players have drawn a winning hand at the Mansfield Activities Center.
The MAC game, which began in September 2012 with a dozen players, has grown into a pack of 10 to 12 tables with four players at each table at 1 p.m. Tuesdays.
The draw, the players say, is the good-natured attitude.
“There are very good players and those who are just starting out,” said Rodney Bland, who plays with his wife, Pamela. “The ones who are just starting out feel comfortable here.”
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The credit for that, they say, goes to the game’s director, Lauren Brown, who keeps things friendly.
“She’s a very nice person,” Bill White said. “And the primary concern, she brings food.”
Brown, who is certified by the American Contract Bridge League, oversees the sanctioned games.
“If someone does something by mistake, they call me over and I make a ruling,” Brown said.
She says the reason the games are good-natured is because they got off on the right foot. Harriet Motter recruited friends who were social bridge players and Brown to direct.
“I would drive into Fort Worth and Arlington to play,” Motter said. “I decided we should have it here.”
Once they got the game going, duplicate bridge players quickly found them, loading the deck.
“A lot of our people are from out of town,” Motter said. “They have to join the MAC to play.”
Cost is $6 a week, $20 a month or $52 for three months to get in the game, she said. The funds go to the ACBL, which keeps track of each player’s points, the MAC and to Brown, who never keeps it instead spending it on food, Motter says. Since the players can spend up to four hours playing, the table loaded with cakes, pies, cookies, chips and fruit is another draw, they say.
“We eat all day long,” said Becky Koenigseder. “I’ve gained five pounds since I started playing here.”
Like traditional or rubber bridge, duplicate bridge players form two-person teams and bid to take tricks or hands from other teams. They shift around the room until they have played as many games as there are tables. In a game with 10 tables, the 10 North/South teams play the 10 East/West teams. Unlike regular bridge, though, the teams are using the same hands (or boards). At the end of the game, the top players on the East/West and North/South game wins.
“It kind of ruins it for you for regular bridge,” Brown said. “(Regular bridge) is like poker, whoever gets the best cards wins. In duplicate bridge, it’s the same cards so it’s very fair.”
And trash talking is not allowed, thanks to the zero-tolerance rule, Koenigsider said.
“If she makes a play and I say ‘That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,’ that’s not allowed,” Pamela Bland said.
It wasn’t always that way, said Rodney Bland, who has been playing bridge since college in the 1960s.
“In the ‘70s, people would be so ugly to their partners you didn’t want to play them,” he said.
People who have never played bridge before should get some lessons before pulling up to the table, though, Brown said, recommending Arlington Bridge Studio.
All of the players in the MAC game are retired, said Brown, who is a retired assistant high school principal, mostly due to the time of day they play.
“It’s so challenging,” she said. “When I play, I can’t wait to see what my cards are. Actually, bridge has been listed as one of the top things that keep you mentally alert. It makes you think in different pathways.
“I know people that play bridge every day,” Brown said. “They get dressed, they come, they socialize. How good is that?”
For more information or to get in the game, contact Brown at 817-800-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 p.m. Tuesdays
Mansfield Activities Center
106 S. Wisteria St.