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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Isabel Yates: Ever played Bridge? Card game
has plenty of fans in Lexington club

Have you ever played the game called Bridge?  Did your mother and father play when you were growing up?  You probably wondered why they enjoyed it so much until you began to take up that game yourself.  Then you discovered a whole new world:  a challenging pastime that does not depend on luck or the cards that you draw, but on the knowledge, intelligence, and the expertise of the players.  This is a revelation in itself.


There is a very large group of Blue Grass residents who love playing Bridge and they belong to the Bridge Club of Lexington, which is a not-for-profit Duplicate Bridge Club affiliated with the American Contract Bridge League(ACBL).  The Bridge Club of Lexington has approximately 260 members.  Their mission is to provide a safe, enjoyable environment for Bridge players in Lexington and surrounding areas, as well as to teach and promote the game of Bridge.


The Bridge facility is located in the Lansbrook Shopping Center on Lansdowne Drive close to Reynolds Road and they share this building with the U.S. Post Office and several commercial with tenants. Nine regularly scheduled games are held per week in various skill level groups and there are special games and tournaments sponsored throughout the year.


What is the most wonderful thing about this Bridge Center is that they are open to the public and they even teach Beginners!   Also, for the first time last year, The Bridge Club of Lexington and Unit One co-sponsored “Learn Bridge in a Day,” providing free instruction and free lunch.  Eighty-five participants came and enjoyed the day.  Youth Bridge Camps are held in the Summer, offering 16 hours of instruction spread over four weeks.


Do you play “Party Bridge” and are you skeptical about Duplicate? Everything you have learned will still apply.  The only real difference in Duplicate Bridge is the scoring.  If you want to simply continue with “Party Bridge,” that of course is OK, but you may wish to consider the classes just to sharpen your play and enhance your skills.


Personally, I can testify  that the instruction  at BCL is excellent.  Beginners are taught by Ms. Donna Loeffler, a former school teacher who got “hooked “ playing Bridge games while in college and has never stopped!  Ms  Loeffler is extremely well-qualified and  has been  at the Bridge Center for the last eight years. I am enrolled in a slightly higher level class because I have played “Party Bridge.”   Our instructor is Ms. Georgia Ringo, also a former teacher who often uses her teacher lingo when she says things like “Did you get a note from your Mother or your Doctor to tell you that you could make that Bid? Georgia has a marvelous sense of humor, so while she is serious  about our progress, we also enjoy every minute of her class.


How did have all this come about?  Well, it is a long story, but here are the highlights. Since 1946, people in Lexington have been playing Duplicate Bridge at various times and locations. Fourteen years ago, The Bridge Club of Lexington moved to its current location at 3517 Lansdowne Drive.  The space was adequate and the Club raised the $18,400 needed to make necessary renovations.  This was fine for around several  years, but guess what happened.


In ten years, the Club had more than doubled and they desp erately needed to increase the size of the facility due to their 83% growth.  Ms. Sandra Holt, the Club President, declared, “We were simply bursting at the seams in our 2,000 sq. ft. antiquated facility…..plus our lease was about to expire.”  The Club members began to look at other possibilities and even consulted the Mayor about city-owned properties.  The search team could not find anything that was either acceptable or within their price range.


Two events provided the “jump start” they needed to get moving.  First was a generous donation of $5,000 from one of the members, Chrissy Burnett, who  has since passed away. She made this donation because “Bridge gave her great pleasure and helped her keep her sanity” as she battled cancer.  Second was the timely availability of adjacent space to the Bridge Club.  The Club immediately sought the extra 2,500 sq  ft  and negotiated with the landlord for an affordable price and a 10-year lease.


Long story short:  the money for the purchase was raised by the members  before construction began , with the landlord providing $18,000 for infrastructure improvements.  These efforts were led by the 2008-2009 Board of Directors, Sandra Holt , President.  Ms. Holt is a ,hemist by profession but became interested in Bridge upon retirement from IBM.   Her husband, Dr. Terrell Holt, has a Phd in Chemistry from UK and  worked  in industry. Currently, he is President of a Bridge Unit, representing several cities in Kentucky.  They have both been valuable, hard-working leaders in this very large project  and  are  understandably very proud of this state-of-the-art  facility.


Because of the  expansion and complete renovation, the Bridge Center is now  a large,  lovely, pleasant,and comfortable place for enjoying the game of Bridge!  The public is invited to visit.  Call 245-9770 to arrange a no-obligation, no charge visit to any scheduled game.  The Club web site is updated monthly with a complete calendar of upcoming events, tournaments and bridge information. Visit at:   ,http://www.LEXINGTONBRIDGECLUBlearn .COM


My instructor, Georgia Ringo, says,”Bridge  is a journey; there’s always something to learn and it is so much fun! “  It might be worth your while to give this enjoyable game a try.  I highly recommend it.


Isabel Yates is a well-known Lexington personality, having served as vice mayor and as a volunteer in numerous community and civic organizations. She’s an active proponent and fundraiser for arts and cultural organizations, historic and preservation interests, health and wellness, economic development and more. She has been an effective “Ambassador” for the Bluegrass for over 40 years, with accollades too numerous to list. An advocate for women’s education and advancement, she is a widow and the mother of four grown children. She joins KyForward as a regular contributor.



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