AKA – “Bridge was their Passion. Then People started to Die”.
That’s the title of a NY Times piece by Jack Healy published on April 29 – it’s the story of how Covid-19 did a number on a Bridge Club in Denver. Starting with one sick 83 year old (who died), contact tracing showed she’d come in close contact with 100 other people at the bridge club. Funerals, weddings, Choir Practice and family gatherings then provided for an uncontrolled spread of the virus . That Bridge Club became Ground zero for Covid-19 in that section of Denver.
And there – but for Luck – certainly not Smarts – go I.
I love playing bridge – and I have two favorite bridge clubs. For those wondering what a Bridge Club might be – it’s a place that holds regularly scheduled competitive (or not so competitive) games of bridge.
To play bridge at a club, you sit at tables of 4. Trays – called boards – holding the cards are circulated from table to table – and every 3 boards the pair sitting E/W get up and change tables. In effect – every person is exposed to every other person – well under any Social Distancing measure. And worse – the cards are held by every other person sitting in your direction at the match.
Plus – there are always snacks – with folks gathering to help themselves.
To make sure a Bridge Club is a perfect storm for Covid-19 – most bridge players are seniors, many in frail health, lots with compromised immune systems.
So if one person had contracted the disease – every person in the room would have almost certainly been exposed.
So why the Lucky? When I’m in Montreal – I play bridge almost daily at our club – and our club is located in one of the epi-centres for the disease in Montreal.
So why didn’t I get exposed? Because as you know from reading my blog – I was in St. Croix celebrating my husband’s 70th birthday. There’s only one tiny bridge club on the island, and with my kids there – playing bridge wasn’t happening for me. So I just never went.
My last day playing bridge at my club was March 7. Just before the Covid-19 fan hit the fire. Lucky – not smart!
Back to the story by Jack Healy. He reports that the 83 year old woman went to a sectional held at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center from Feb 27 to March 3. Over 150 people were there – and no one was taking any precautions.
And bridge is the ultimate of social games. You snack, you chat, you handle cards handled by other people, you handle the boards, you all touch the machines that record the scores. It’s almost impossible to imagine how a bridge club wouldn’t be a hot bed of Covid-19 infection.
And in the Colorado Springs Bridge Center – our game and our lack of concern cost 4 members their lives, and at least 25 others have spent over a month fighting symptoms of the virus.
So what of the future of bridge clubs? Right now, everyone is playing bridge on line – and our local clubs are setting up ‘Virtual’ clubs so that some income will come in – they still must pay the rent if they rent space.
But in the long run – hand sanitizer isn’t going to work. We’ll all have to wear masks, not come in sick or even with mild symptoms, we’ll have to have on gloves, and I’m not sure how to spread us further apart easily – bridge tables are generally 4’ squares at the most.
My guess – Bridge Clubs may well become a think of the past. And that’s a shame. For many going to the Bridge Club for a daily game gave their lives meaning and structure. Something to do when the weather wasn’t great – or even if the weather was good.
And for those seriously frail – it was safe. You could avoid moving too much by sitting North/South, you could even arrive and depart in a wheel chair. And your friends were there. You could gossip a bit while waiting for the game to start, you could share Grand-kid stories.
Bridge Clubs – RIP – a victim of Covid-19
Signing off to play bridge on-line – The Soup Lady