In Their Own Words: Stories of Starting Bridge

In Their Own Words: Stories of Starting Bridge

Even a few thousand games in, most bridge players will still have fond memories of the first time they picked up some cards. We spoke to some big personalities in bridge about their first impressions, fondest memories and how they got started.

Matt Ginsberg – Creator of GiB

Very boring. Started playing with some friends in high school. None of us had a girlfriend, so there was nothing better to do!

Kitty Cooper – Bridge Teacher

I learned bridge one summer when I was about 11 years old at in the country house we were renting.

On weekends, my parents had as a guest a good friend of theirs who was recently divorced. All he wanted to do was play bridge and my father liked playing bridge and so did the neighbor’s wife, but my mother kept making excuses since she did not enjoy the game.

So one day they taught me to play and I was so fascinated I stayed up till 2 in the morning with my flashlight under the covers reading the big Goren book… The next day I think I played better than most of them!

Olivier Comte – CEO of

For me, it’s because of my best friend. I was 15 years old and my best friend’s father was a bridge player. He wanted to teach bridge to his sons.

My chance was that he has twins, and to play bridge, you need to have four! So, I became the fourth of the group. Simple story, but that’s it.

Paul Linxwiler – Executive Editor of Bridge Bulletin

I began playing duplicate bridge when I was 18, after a visit to the local M.A. Lightman Bridge Club in Memphis.

I showed up without a partner a few minutes before game time and was invited to play as a guest of the club by the great Nate Silverstein [now deceased], who was running the game that afternoon.

He said “I agreed even though you didn’t know any conventions” – not even Stayman. I terrorized some poor fill-in partner for 26 boards, and I got a lot of funny looks that day, but I was hooked.

Virginie Delattre – Head of Communications for

I like playing board and card games, generally speaking. It was when I began working for Funbridge that I started playing more regularly.

Funbridge makes it easy as you can select your conventions and level, go back and replay a hand, challenge other players and chat with them about bridge. So there is something for everyone!

We at Funbridge are also lucky to work with World Vice-Champion Jérôme Rombaut who gives us bridge lessons from time to time, which makes the subtleties of the game even more interesting.

I think bridge is above all a human game that brings health benefits by exercising your mind. And there is no need to be a mathematician or statistician to get started. You can learn the basics and play your first boards quickly. That is also what makes it attractive to me.

Péter Talyigás LoveBridge – CEO of LoveBridge

My father’s parents played casual bridge at home. My dearest grandma was famous for her luck. As they say, she had never understood the idea of finessing as the missing honors always fall when she declared.

My grandfather (a serious engineer) always expected perfection and my father grew up with the strong knowledge that bridge is equal to a quarrel.

My father is a perfect example of peace himself, so it never occurred to him to play bridge until his mates in the university taught him.

My grandfather passed away far too soon, so he never met a real bridge player in his family. My father started to play in the championships and he became one of the most peaceful players around.

When he was married to my mother, he had already played every week. My mother hates every card game, including bridge (obviously). As she saw it, my father’s weekly bridge day was one of the main enemies of the family.

When I was born, my mother took my father’s word that he was not going to teach me how to play bridge before me being 12. A few months before my 12th birthday my mother remembered my father: You gave your word that you was not going to teach our son how to play bridge before he becomes 14!

My peaceful father nodded. So two years later my mother remembered my father and said again: You gave your word… This time at 16!

Two years later, my father started to teach me how to play bridge – secretly. Can anyone imagine more excitement than to learn anything from daddy behind mummy’s back?

I never touched a card in the next few years, but had many conversation about finesses and bids.

My first memory about me playing bridge belongs to the summer of 1991. The iron curtain was down, the communist regime run away, and my father had a job in Austria as a software engineer.

My parents divorced (and not because of bridge). We had the “World Passport” as we called it at those times and my father drove from Budapest to Wien to play with me in my first ever bridge tournament.

At the border, there was quite a queue, longer then the river Danube, but my father walked ahead and explained to the soldiers that we really-really have to go – the bridge tournament is waiting only for us (well… he is peaceful and almost always tells the truth…).

The officer in charge understood the urgency. We were let go. On the way my dearest father explained the mechanism of the Drury convention (“But whyyyy? Daddy, whyyyy?!”). We were late with two rounds, but we were allowed to play in the third.

So my first board, being extremely late, went… p (Dad) – p – 1h (me) – p; 2c (Dad) – p – p (me) – p.

I swear, I do not remember anything more!

By Alex J. Coyne

Photo by jalil shams from Pexels