Grown Up Games: Bringing Bridge Back

woman playing the game of bridge with class
Haven’t played bridge in a while? Need to brush up on duplicate? Come to the Mt. Lebanon Public Library on alternating Wednesday evenings through April 19 to get back in the swing. /Photo: Elizabeth Hruby McCabe

According to Phyllis Geinzer, “Bridge is not just playing cards, it is a social event.” Geinzer, Vermont Avenue, came to that conclusion decades ago, as she explained, “I have been playing bridge since I was 16.” She lived in West Virginia at the time and came to Pittsburgh for a job shortly after graduating from college.

“I moved to Pittsburgh knowing zero people, but bridge was an easy way to meet people. I had played duplicate in other places, and when I came to Pittsburgh and learned my way around a little, I found a bridge game in Bethel Park. At that bridge game I met my husband, and as a result of that one game, I also met a ton of people. I have played all over the area and I have traveled around the country to play.”

Because bridge has had such an important role in Geinzer’s life, she and bridge partner Barbara Logan, Valleyview Road, want to encourage others to join in the experience. Logan’s husband, Bob, introduced her to the game. “I became interested in bridge when I met my husband who, like many others, had learned to play when his mother needed a fourth,” Logan said.

While bridge clubs still meet in Mt. Lebanon, the number of those playing in person has dwindled. Geinzer pointed out that some of the groups have gone from as many as 16 or 17 tables to four. “The pandemic dealt us a monster blow,” she said. “The world shut down, and that included social life.” What people did instead was turn to online games, because there they could play 24 hours a day and find partners from across the world.

Logan and Geinzer want to encourage people to get back to playing in person, and for that reason, they are organizing duplicate bridge classes at the Mt. Lebanon Public Library. The free classes will meet every other Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., through April 19.

“We are not teaching beginning bridge,” said Logan. “We are reaching out to people who play bridge at home, or who have an idea of what bridge is and want to expand upon it, who are interested in coming and learning duplicate.”

In the type of bridge generally played at home—sometimes called “party” bridge—each hand is played and scored one time, and the cards are shuffled after they are played. In duplicate bridge, however, the same hand is played and scored by every table. In duplicate, people come to the bridge game in groups of two and face another group at a table. Then, after playing two or more hands, one pair moves to a different table.

“We’re not only going to present the concept of duplicate and how it works, but we’re also going to give people a chance to play,” Geinzer said. “We’re going to introduce some of the conventions that are common among duplicate players, and we’re going to have guest presenters. So when the classes are finished, these people will be ready to step into a duplicate game and be comfortable; they will know some people, and they will have met the directors of the South Hills games.”

“There’s a lot to offer in bridge,” Logan continued. “For some people it’s an intellectual event. You would never exhaust your ability to learn at bridge, because nobody knows everything. And it’s not like golf where you can only play half a year. It’s a wonderful game and Phyllis and I would really like to introduce more people to it. The object is to get people out of the living room, into the library, and then to the bridge table, face to face, meeting new people.”

Anyone interested in joining the classes can sign up at the library or call 412-531-1912.