At the beginning of every month District 25's Director, Mark Aquino, sends out congratulatory emails to New England bridge players who have advanced in rank during the previous month. Some of them respond, and Mark selects a few of the most interesting ones to be posted on NEBridge.org. Below are a few memorable ones from players who achieved a new rank in the summer of 2018.
I learned to play bridge from my parents, Robert and Elizabeth Brisson, both Gold Life Masters. As a young married couple my husband Ben and I played social bridge with my parents. In 1998 we joined the ACBL and played bridge in Amesbury, MA at the Queen of Hearts Club and subsequently in our hometown club, the Amesbury Duplicate Bridge Club. I didn’t play very often in the beginning years while we were raising four children. For many years, when there wasn’t a club in Amesbury, I played social bridge with a large group of people and we rotated playing at each other’s houses in the Amesbury area. Then I started playing with several different partners at clubs in Amesbury, Woburn, North Andover, Portsmouth and Wells, ME. The most exciting win was the Boss Lady Knockout team game at the Nationals in July 2016, winning over eight gold points.
I want to thank all my partners, Ben, Elizabeth, Robert, Amy, Deb, Scott, Sheila, Bette, all of whom helped me learn and win master points, and everyone I played in teams with in tournaments: Thanks! On June 9th I won the last silver points I needed playing bridge in Johnston, RI, with my sister, Amy Brisson, from Arlington VA, who had become a Life Master one month earlier. So, together we celebrated becoming Life Masters, a proud family achievement for both of us.
Specifically, I'd like to address the "how you achieved this milestone" part of your email.
Simply put, I got better at bridge for two reasons.
1. Night games. My sister and I grew up playing consistently in Rick Townsend's well-attended night games (not online -- I mean actual events) in Hamden, CT. If the ACBL wants to continue to have a strong membership, these games have to become attractive again. Students and working professionals can't attend day games; it's just logistically impossible for most of us.
For older folks we need to put money into rideshare programs so they can travel more easily at night. That, along with a reminder of responsible stewardship towards the next generation (which it seems most of the bridge community has forgotten about), would help a lot more young people improve and earn masterpoints.
2. Social structure. I had a great team in college, and my friends pushed me to get better in a social environment. I still haven't read a bridge book all the way through, but I read (semi-legally obtained) chapters because it was a fun experience and because we were training for the Collegiate Bridgebowl. I enjoy playing with older folks (and playing with some great people has been crucial in keeping me interested), but it's easier to improve alongside your peers than to learn from someone who hasn't been new to bridge for 50 years.
I have some other thoughts on how we can increase interest in the game (targeting incarcerated individuals, shedding the "grumpy white people" stigma of bridge, getting bridge into math classrooms, etc.), but that's enough for one email.
I really don’t feel that attaining “Club Master” status is that great an accomplishment. Maybe “Sectional Master” is worth a mention somewhere but, in my estimation, even that would not be worth an “inspirational story” and photo.
I enjoy the game, the mental challenge and the competition very much and it is nice to have these different levels of accomplishment to reach for. I very much appreciate and enjoy my association with the ACBL. I value the national, sectional, regional and local organization that makes the whole system possible and also provides so many opportunities to measure myself against other players.
I look forward to many more years of my association with the ACBL and many more years of card play.
When I was in my 20's and 30's I played a fair amount of bridge. Then a long hiatus due to family illness. In moving to Vermont a few years ago, I started playing occasionally at the Burlington Bridge Club in Williston. Thanks to their teaching sessions and encouragement I nibbled away at earning enough points to finally get my Club Master rank. Unfortunately I am unable to play at night, so I appreciate the daylight games offered. I guess the motto is play for the love of the game and don't chase the points. And it has been very appreciated when a Life Laster will share how I bid or played a hand wrong. In bridge you are never done learning!