What's a good way to to go about finding human bridge players (kids or adults) that is less intense than what you find at duplicate bridge clubs, but more competitive and learning oriented than playing rubber bridge with friends once every few months?

Though I've played (and enjoyed the challenge/competitiveness of) duplicate bridge at clubs in the past, my 6-year old bridge-loving son is nowhere near the level of bidding, play, or (especially) maturity where a club would be appropriate. The etiquette alone would prove too stifling.

I've also met several people throughout my life with a desire to play bridge at a level of play that was less intense than that found at a typical U.S. duplicate bridge club, but more intense and learning oriented than what you can get from casual play with friends a few times per year.

I'm interested in answers that involve 4 people (kids, adults, or some mix of both) physically getting together. I already know about bridge software and online bridge options and while we use bridge software some as a learning tool, that's not what I'm after with this question.

  • 2
    I don't think 6 year olds are the only ones who don't go to bridge clubs - they're a bit intense for a lot of casual players, and your question is pretty much applicable for them too.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 18:24
  • @Jefromi I liked your idea so I added an extra couple sentences to the end of my question. If all the answers end up being to the more general question, then I can reword the question later.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 19:19
  • This is possibly too localized.
    – Aryabhata
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 19:31
  • @Aryabhata By too localized do you mean the mention of S.F. Bay Area or do you mean the overall scope of the question? I wasn't trying to ask about just the S.F. Bay Area but if it came across that way, I'll edit the question. As for the overall scope of question, I've run across several people during my life with an interest in playing bridge more seriously but not quite to the level of joining a duplicate club. None of us have found a way to consistently accommodate the not-quite-club level of bridge play.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 19:45
  • 2
    I play rubber and duplicate bridge with like-minded friends, not through highly-organized "clubs". It's highly sociable, low-stress and not a little drunken by the end of the day! Unfortunately I just don't know how to provide any kind of useful answer to your question: I believe lots of people want to play Bridge "for fun", but can't think of any better way to locate those than ask around... or try to convert your current friends! Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 13:32

5 Answers 5


Your question intrigues me because I'm an oddity--a purely sociable bridge player who has written about bridge history and I've done a lot of THINKING about bridge as popular culture--where it is, where it's going, what it needs to do if it is ever to become the mass fad it once was. My experience writing a book about the pop culture of sociable bridge, and a blogezine as well (http://bridgetable.net), tells me you're not alone. You have lots of kindred spirits out there. There's much dissatisfaction with the bridge Establishment and today's bridge world.

I think the only answer is YOU (with others) organizing something (via the internet and Meet Up) between the world of sociable players (like me) who have no organization whatever AND the ACBL world.

Launch a website, come up with a set of standards/rules for your ideal way of playing duplicate bridge that would be good for your young son as well, give it a catchy name, and start and promote to people who agree with you. Who knows, you could be the creator of something new in bridge that goes national at some point. Who knows? Maybe someone else with feelings like you has already launched a website to reach others like you? Read again about Ely Culbertson--he told the bridge Estabishment to go to hell and just promoted bridge the way he knew it would work rather than go along with the Establishment. He's my hero.

I'll bet if you Googled "How to start a national organization via the internet" you'd find all kinds of instructions. Come to think of it--I should do that myself for MY "cause" too!

Create a few Google Alerts of selected key words and phrases and see what you find. That's how I find content for my blog, I have Google Alerts for "play bridge" and "nonagenarian" (because part 4 of my blog is looking for bridge-playing 90-plussers, and do I ever find them!!) That's how I found you in fact.

I'll bet a Google Alert for "play duplicate bridge" and "play duplicate bridge without masters points" or even the words you used in your question "play less intense duplicate bridge" -- do that for a month and see what you come up with. Can create as many Google Alerts as you want.

My progress with my cause (that sociable bridge survive after the bridge-playing old ladies like me (91) are dead and gone) goes slowly. BUT I'm OLD and TECH ILLITERATE (have to have a Virtual Assistant or I could never do a blog) while YOU are YOUNG and like most of the young into twittering and facebook and all that stuff I loathe doing. Even so, got a couple of very good breaks these past two weeks that may make a huge difference eventually in my subscriber list. Anyway, what I do is one of my bucket list causes and makes life interesting for a nonagenarian.

  • Welcome to the site and thanks for your contribution from the historical perspective. I hope you contribute more to our bridge questions and answers. Stack Exchange is almost the opposite of Twitter/Facebook which discuss fleeting thoughts of the moment. Think of collaborative effort to leave behind a terrific database of reference style questions and answers. While I love the content you contributed, I think it could be even better if edited somewhat to become a little more concise in some parts, while the Ely Culbertson part is expanded, thus nudging this into a format we're all used to.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 14:25
  • What a pleasure to hear from someone still so enthusiastic about the game, and who remembers good old Ely. Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 5:45

Many of the larger clubs have an evening or two a week set aside for beginners or "improvers", which sounds like the sort of thing you are looking for. My own has a very popular evening where an experienced player gives a short talk on a topic and everyone then proceeds to forget it all in the excitement.

Find your local club and ask. They won't bite. (No point giving you my club's contact details as its a long way from California.)


I am a life-long player and evangelist for bridge, who has enjoyed success at many levels of play from tournaments to kitchens. Like your son, I learned the basics of bridge at 6 or 7 (in my case from Goren's AutoBridge), but went another 10 years before encountering a group of like-minded individuals in high school.

A major obstacle IMHO to wider acceptance of bridge (in North America - it is thriving in other parts of the world) is the perceived need to play the full current game as invented by Vanderbilt. Bridge (meaning Auction Bridge and Plafonde and other variations including Auction Whist and Contract Whist) was already a mass phenomenon before Vanderbilt's new Contract scoring table. The ability to gradually step up to more challenging variations of the game may have been a key driver of Bridge's popular success from the '30's through the '60's.

I suggest playing not just Contract Bridge with your son, but exposing him to whichever variation is playable by the opponents at hand. Play a Whist variant with less serious players from your group; play Auction Bridge with opponents interested in a slightly greater challenge, and wait to see if any of your regular group decides to step up to Contract. Play 9-5-2 Whist when three people are waiting for a fourth to show up.

Play some Poker, to help your son learn the elements of bluffing both as allowed, and as not allowed, in Bridge, so he can better distinguish them. Play some Rummy to work on his card memory.

Oswald Jacoby and Howard Schenken were not only amongst the very top world-class bridge players of their time, but also widely regarded as the best Backgammon and Gin Rummy players, respectively of their generation. While I believe Bridge to be a more multi-dimensional game than either of these, both of these will strengthen specific aspects of your son's bridge playing.

If need be, play simple Hearts or one of the many German-derived trick-taking games described in any good Hoyle. All of these games will teach your son card-playing skills that carry over well to Contract Bridge. The opportunity to observe opponents in these many different, yet similar< environments will encourage card-reading, and opponent-reading skill development by your son. All the top players are amazing technicians, but the very best have an ability to read opponents that is often uncanny, and which I believe comes from exposure to opponents in wider circumstances than just the Contract Bridge table.

But above all, play a card game.

Talleyrand, on observing 4 young women who refused to learn Whist:

What a sorry old age you are preparing for yourselves.


I would look for a bridge "circle." That would be a social club where bridge is played, but is not dedicated exclusively to playing bridge.

A bridge club (that plays exclusively bridge) is one that attracts dedicated people. From the look of your question, that's "too much" for you needs. What you want is a location where bridge is played, but people are out for a "good time," and not necessarily to play bridge.


Alternatively online would be non-threatening. Such as teaching tables on www.bridgebaseonline.com

  • 2
    The question explicitly rules out online or computer-based bridge. Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 2:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .