If Christine Parkin had known the card game Bridge was so complicated, she may have reconsidered her decision to learn how to play. But, almost 25 years later, she has no regrets.
Bridge is a game of strategy that you play with a partner. You need a minimum of four players, but Christine has played in tournaments with hundreds of people in the room, with players moving from table to table.
'I started when I was 45, and I'm now 69, so I've been playing for a long time. At that stage I was working full-time and I wanted to find something that wasn't too strenuous – something that I could participate in and meet new friends because I was new to the area,' Christine says.
Christine signed up for an introductory course with the Yarra Valley Bridge Club.
'I knew nothing about cards. I just went along and did the lessons. I did think I was on another planet at one stage, because they were talking about it and it makes no sense whatsoever. But I was just determined to do something that was using the mind more than craft classes, and where I’d get to meet people.'
Now a life member and former president of her Bridge club, Christine has seen lots of other people try to learn the game she now loves, and is disappointed few persist long enough to reap the rewards.
'You can play and lose. That’s easy. But to play and consistently win, you have to know what you’re doing,' she says.
A Bridge match takes three hours and, at her peak, and whilst still working full-time, Christine played six times a week. Post COVID, she has dialed that back to twice a week.
'I was addicted for a long time there. I was totally addicted. Absolutely.'
It was the strategy that got her hooked.
'I like maths, and it's like unravelling this mathematical problem. It's all about numbers. How many tricks can you make? How many cards has my partner got? So, it's a bit like working out a jigsaw puzzle and there’s strategy, like working out who else is holding those cards.'
Christine loves that Bridge is an inclusive game. You don’t need to speak the same language, it’s accessible to those with severe disability and it’s relatively inexpensive. Games can be social or competitive and there are games you can join online at any hour of the day or night.
'I’ve met a lot of interesting people from different walks of life. I think it has kept me alert and makes me use my brain in a different way to normal daily life.
'As long as you've got four people that know how to play Bridge, you can play anywhere. I’ve played at airports and bus stations, and on trains and trams. I've played everywhere. I've travelled quite extensively with Bridge overseas and to nearly every state in Australia,' Christine says.
'I’ve made hundreds of friends in the Bridge community Australia wide and overseas. Whoever you meet becomes a friend.'
Reviewed 11 April 2023