weekly bridge game

A group of 16 Elba women meet each Wednesday at the former Just Folk Coffeehouse building on the square in Elba to play bridge, a competitive card game. While there are plenty of jokes and smiles to go around, these women also are serious when it comes to trying to win each week. The competitiveness makes it all the more fun! 

by Jack West, intern for The Elba Clipper

There is a group of women in Elba, kind, smiling and joking with one another, who are not to be messed with. Beneath their sweaters and sparkling eyes, these women have a level of competitiveness that is usually only seen at UFC fights or gumbo-making competitions in Louisiana. The reason for this competition: bridge. In Elba, a group of 16 women ranging from 65 to 85-years-old meets at the former Just Folk Coffee House on Wednesdays to play bridge. Bridge is a card game where four players are divided into two teams. Those on a team sit across from each other and try to outscore the other team. That’s where the simplicity ends. To an outsider, it looks charming, calm, even tranquil. But its more than that. “There is a real spirit of competitiveness that comes up,” said Joan Ward, one of the weekly players. Bids, tricks, passes, trump suits, auctions, contracts and many other actions are all intricately woven into this game of strategy. Originally, the group was much smaller and played at night in someone’s home. “There was a club before there was the coffee shop,” said Pat Johnson, former manager of Just Folk Coffee House. Johnson said when the women began playing at the coffee shop, she wanted to play but always had to be running the shop. “After the restaurant closed, I got to play with them,” she said. Some of the women are new to bridge, but most have either played it consistently since college or have recently picked it up after a work-induced hiatus. One player who wishes to remain anonymous said that bridge was a defining part of her time at college. “At Troy, I got a major in bridge and a minor in English education,” she said. “Sometimes, if it was a good bridge hand, I might just not go to class.” Many of the women said that what brings them back to the table every week is the challenge, the strategy and the friendships. “We all like to play bridge,” said Mary Grider, one of the players. “It’s that simple.”

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