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‘Bridge is a language’

Playing bridge is like learning a new language, and an opportunity to learn to speak it better is right in downtown Suffolk.

Bridge lessons are offered every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 213 N. Main St. Anne Duty, a certified instructor with the American Contract Bridge League, teaches the intermediate to advanced lessons.

“I did it to become a better player,” said student Arlene Zeiler, one of 12 who attended lessons at the church last week. “I have fun. You’re using your mind.”

Zeiler picked up the habit of the complicated card game from her mother.

“It’s probably the most challenging of all the card games,” Zeiler said.

The game of bridge is played with four players, each of whom is sitting across from his partner and has his two opponents on either side. Each player is dealt 13 cards from a standard deck. The partners are not permitted to see each other’s cards or tell each other outright what kind of hand they have.

Each card is worth a specified amount of points. The goal of a single hand is to achieve a high score with the cards dealt. The game then moves to bidding, after which a contract is made. The contract is a declaration by one partnership that their side will take at least a stated number of tricks. After the hand is played, the players are scored.

Bridge can take many forms, including duplicate bridge, where two or more tables are purposely dealt the same hands so that players can compare how well they played with how their peers played the same hand.

“There are so many different conventions,” Zeiler said. “The game has been played for eons.”

Anne Duty, the instructor, said bridge is a game that keeps the mind active, even when the body cannot be.

“When we can’t play our golf or other physical sport, we can always play bridge,” Duty said. “It keeps the mind ticking.”

To find out more about the bridge lessons or local bridge clubs, call Duty at 420-4980.