Playing the Cards: Fun Duplicate Bridge Group at Rose Baker Senior and Rockport Community Centers. Shout out to Lester Stockman, a tremendous volunteer who makes it all work!

The best bridge players of the day on Cape Ann convene at least twice a week for competitive games–and on Mondays for a bonus master class and play–at the Rose Baker Senior Center in Gloucester and Rockport Community Center, two ideal local venues. (A few manage additional games outside of that schedule. Two head to cribbage right after!)

A game of practice and quick perception that takes a serious chunk of time, the “individuals and the individuality” of bridge appear to be irresistible when you see these dedicated (some might say obsessed) folks meet up! Here are a few scenes from past games in Gloucester and Rockport from 2019 and 2023. Current avid players include:

Kathy Bacsik, Bernice Blitz, Mary Jane Boughn, Bill Breslin, Louise Cook, Charlotte Chase, Ellen Clark, Mike Colomo, Joe Curley, Paul Evans, Susan Everitt, Dixie Lee George, Mary Hayes, Cheryl Hunt, Mike Johnson, Nikki Karkatti, Minnetta King, Phil Lambert, Kim MacLeod, Claire Norton, Steve Parsons, Jack Smallcomb, Vivian & Jim, Molly, Bonnie, and Lester Stockman.

Occupations among the members present and past are broad: Several engineers, educators (school teachers, professors and academics), pilots, fishermen, medical doctors, psychiatrist, investors, and at least one expert horsewoman. My mother in law is a superb player. She loves the game for its mingled skill and chance, the social visits, and mentions how it builds intellectual strength — to encourage others to the tables for much of her life.

Group photo caption: There’s always one! Yes, that’s bunny ears– courtesy of the oldest player there that day 🙂

Back row L to R: Phil, Louise, Mike, Steve. Middle Row: Molly, Lester, Claire, Charlotte, Mike C., Bernice. Seated: Minnetta King and Paul Evans. (Art work by Rose Baker Senior Center patrons working with Art Director Juni Van Dyke. The room changes depending on how many tables are needed.) A welcoming group!

Lester Stockman

Guiding these abundant opportunities without a hitch is the most impressive sleight of hand. Lester Stockman a volunteer and accomplished player manages to fill tables of four on any given day year round despite everyone’s busy daily lives and the inevitable planned and unplanned intrusions. For close to a decade Stockman makes the phone calls and connections required when teams have to temporarily shuffle as a result of absences, arrives early and stays late to arrange tables and chairs, keeps score, and offers the master classes on Mondays. Prior to that stretch, he helped Bill Calloway when Bill played with his wife Kate.

Lester Stockman is a volunteer champion

His sustained and prodigious effort in service to area bridge players offers an essential and vibrant routine for residents, many who are seniors. He has done this for years with the lightest touch and his gifts certainly merit some community commendation!

“One player will possibly not approve of methods which another equally good player upholds and adopts.”

Bridge Abridged; Or, Practical Bridge. by W. Dalton, 1855 with some timeless and relatable advice

Grand Slams to all!

Bridge in America

Henry Isaac Barbey (1832-1906) is credited with introducing bridge in America. Barbey was a 19th C. business tycoon, the Director of the Buffalo, Rochester, Pittsburgh Railroad (the BR&P), a yachtsman, master card player, and philanthropist (including a seat on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s board). He married a wealthy NYC heiress, Mary Lorillard, and they naturally made the Four Hundred list. Perhaps there were visits on Cape Ann or the North Shore because of that racing. Newport was a destination for sure. I wonder if their children played bridge? One of their daughters, Hélène de Pourtalès, competed and won an Olympic gold medal in sailing in the first year women were allowed to compete. Good read by Christophe Vuilleumier published by the Swiss National Museum Blog here: The first female Olympic champion: New York-born Hélène de Pourtalès (1868-1945) of Geneva won gold at the 1900 Olympic Games. Largely unknown today, this pioneering yachtswoman paved the way for other women to compete at the Olympics.

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