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Posted on Mon, Jun. 21, 2004
Getting in on area bridge games easier than reported

As president of Unit 120 of the American Contract Bridge League, I was thrilled to see an article on Duplicate Bridge in Sunday's paper, but was dismayed at the misinformation provided concerning the local bridge scene. The Times Leader said: "Bridge is a popular pastime around these parts, but it's not exactly easy to break into. Many local bridge-playing groups tell us they're private units that really can't take in new members at present." This couldn't be farther from the truth.

There are many local duplicate bridge groups that are open to any bridge player. Groups meet Wednesday morning at the Castle Inn in Dallas, Monday and Thursday afternoons at the Jewish Community Center in Wilkes-Barre, and beginner games are held on Monday afternoon at Prince of Peace Church in Dallas (under 200 masterpoints) and Friday afternoon at the JCC in Wilkes-Barre (for any non-life master). In addition, there are open games in Scranton (Monday evenings, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons) and Hazleton (Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and once a month on Sunday at 1:30).

None of these games require that you bring a partner; the clubs will provide a partner for you. For those who have never tried duplicate bridge, there are lessons, supervised play and beginner clubs. For the experienced, there are several open clubs. All of these sessions welcome and recruit new members and there is no limit to the number of people who can play.

There are over 250 active duplicate bridge players in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area alone, and over 400 in our local Unit 120 which covers Northeastern Pennsylvania. Many local players participate in National Bridge Tournaments, including those most recently held in Reno (Nevada) and Philadelphia, and scores of others will be traveling to New York City for the Nationals in July. Locally we hold three Sectional tournaments each year (first weekend in March, October, and June), and a Regional tournament every third year in Scranton.

Breaking into the local bridge scene could not be easier. In an effort to promote bridge in the Valley we have developed progressive steps to help new players move from the first lesson to becoming an ACBL Life Master. For the uninitiated, the first step is to take beginning lessons offered at the Tudor Bookshop, or at the Wilkes-Barre JCC or private lessons taught by the Bridgelady, and then move on to "supervised play" with the Bridgelady at the Meadows Nursing home on Fridays, or the Wilkes-Barre Catholic Youth Center (on Mondays, not Tuesdays as reported in your article). When you have mastered the basics, join the fun at any duplicate game - six days a week.

For more information see the Bridgelady at http://bridgelady.net or the Unit 120 Web site at http://nepab.com.

Beth Rosenthal

President Unit 120 ACBL