TENDER TUESDAYS

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CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE

                               – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PLAY…

Welcome back to Part 2 of CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE. This segment introduces my readers to a whole new level of lessons. Let’s just say, it was a darn good thing that I started off with the instructors and the forgiving friends that we began with on the first leg, as the intensity was about to be ratcheted up by about 100%.

The first day that we were abandoned by all the fantastic friends we’d met and with whom we enjoyed playing and socializing, we felt somewhat lost. We knew we had all the Australian ports to look forward to and experience, but we weren’t entirely convinced we’d make the same special connections with new people onboard that we’d had the opportunity to make on our first leg.

Well, didn’t we get a surprise? Bridge was scheduled in the afternoons for a couple of hours for the advanced players … no that was not us! We tore up to the 5th deck immediately and pleaded our case with a most formidable Australian, Christine (the new bridge instructor). She agreed to offer an entire set of beginner’s lessons on sea days, and suggested that if we were super keen to practise her methodology in the bar in the latter afternoons, she wasn’t adverse to enjoying some wine, and offering our group further expert support. The first time we took her up on this, we were in the middle of a hand when she arrived, so husband Ryan just flipped her his room key to order her own glass of wine. She walked over to the bar, and in her somewhat brash voice, ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon! Of course she did! (Let’s just say, she caught frugal Ryan’s attention immediately!)

Bridge_Christine_Background

There she is…the BRIDGE EVANGELIST!

The first lesson was jammed with novices and a few people, like ourselves, who had realistically come back to consolidate the previous lessons a second time, in order to start to make sense of the game (me, in particular!). Fortunately, the first two fellows that sat down at our table, remained our bridge partners for the duration of the trip. Rick (from Austin, Texas) had taken the first set of lessons, as well, and he was determined to learn as much as he could while on the ship. (It was his way of giving his wife her time; without him! What an accommodating husband!) Peter, an Australian gentleman (truly) from Melbourne, had a lot of card playing experience (I’m thinking maybe Black Jack…) and he kept us all on our toes with his special style of finessing! Christine (our instructor) kept reinforcing that we must be honest with PARTNER and provide them with only accurate information when bidding. Of course, unbeknownst to Ryan and I, our devious friend, Peter, had been bluffing while bidding and SHE caught him! OMG! She announced to the room that he lied to PARTNER! (A HUGE SIN!) He wasn’t being honest with his partner and giving accurate information in his bids, something unforgiveable to this BRIDGE EVANGELIST! Ryan loved the public humiliation of it all (only because it wasn’t directed his way….). After that, he constantly teased Peter, inquiring whether he was lying. Peter would just give him his sly smile, enjoying a little chuckle, never missing a beat…

Rick_Peter_Mary

Our BRIDGE BUDDIES!

Christine had retired from teaching in an all boys Muslim School in Sydney. When she entered bridge class, she was totally in control and you knew you would be learning BRIDGE her way, even if she did try to soften her persona by referring to all of us as, “Darling”! She had no qualms about telling us of her wretched divorce and how she got rid of her husband. In fact, she tended to relate a lot of Bridge theory to PARTNER relationships… hence, the lack of empathy for anyone who wasn’t honest with PARTNER… You get what I’m saying, right? She confessed to us that she only took up BRIDGE, once her husband was out of the picture, and decided she needed a social outlet. She never encouraged the Beginner Class to get off the ship and join a BRIDGE CLUB immediately. No, she wanted to spare us the despair she felt when she innocently joined a club and was completely decimated on the first night. She recalled that she cried all the way home. However, our Christine was no quitter! Nope, she went back to the lion’s den and determinedly set out to master the game. (I’d say she pretty much reached her goal!)

Seriously, if she’d been the instructor on our first round of lessons, I would have folded after the first class. Christine was a force to be reckoned with! She was completely the opposite of the calm, lovely instructors- Wyn and Patti, on our first leg! Even the men were intimidated by this stocky, red-headed, brash Australian woman! One fellow actually confessed to the group, after being publicly admonished in her bold and forthright manner, “Christine, you scare me!” Of course, this broke up the entire room, as we all laughed but secretly thought how brave he was to say what we were all thinking…

Being a former educator, I totally loved her methodology of teaching. She had prepared color/number-coded cards, so that after the lesson, we could replay 4 hands until we mastered what it was she wanted us to learn. She didn’t follow the rules/conventions of the cruise line, in that she requested donations for setting up our duotangs and xeroxing the lessons. Of course, everyone was keen for her to do this! She also made Joan Butts’ Bridge Books available for purchase, as well. Our other instructors wouldn’t get involved in sales, making it necessary for us to scrounge for book stores in ports, trying to purchase these coveted HOW TO PLAY books. We were that desperate to improve!

Bridge_Books                                     Bridge_Folder_Cards

Christine was completely outrageous and that was her secret to keeping us all tuned in and learning. She’d tell you outright that she was the boss and when she served as bridge master in the afternoons for the Bridge Tournaments, one fellow became terse and called her a ‘b—-‘. She fired him! That’s right, the obnoxious man was banned from all bridge lessons and games forevermore.

This BRIDGE EVANGELIST gave us homework during lessons, such as, “I want you to go to your cabin and in front of the bathroom mirror, you must practice saying the word, “PASS”, I know you can do it!” (She was easily frustrated when people without any High Card Points, would bid regardless…) Christine’s words of advice, included: “In bridge you win on everyone else’s mistakes. The errors made by others provide opportunities for you.” I had no idea what she meant… but now I get it and she was so right!

Christine sat with us at dinner one night. We introduced her to the non-bridge players at the table. She commented that she figured she was the most misquoted woman on the ship. When we asked what she meant by that, she said that as she’d read her book in the lounge, she’d overhear people quoting her incorrectly from the lessons. Rather than addressing them and straightening them out, she’d just bend her head and bury it behind her book. It made me wonder if she was addressing us on that matter, as we always joined up for practice and spouted off what we thought we heard her say in class…

Christine’s last word of advice to all of the BEGINNERS, was to not rush out and join a Bridge Club the minute you returned home. (She knew they’d eat us alive… well at least the real novices in the crowd, like me!) She suggested that we take more lessons before frustrating the more advanced players with our lack of knowledge and finesse. (Good advice, right?) Of course, the entire time we had been away, we were sending out CRUISE NEWS emails telling our friends at home that we couldn’t wait to get home to start playing bridge with them. I’ll bet you think you know how that turned out, don’t you? You’ll have to read next week’s Tender Tuesday’s installment to find out whether BRIDGE is still alive and well in our lives, and that of our partners…

Remember, there is a FOLLOW button at the bottom of the BLOG ROLL (on the right hand side of the screen). If you click on it, it will subscribe you to my blog and you’ll receive an email, each time a new posting is up (in case you want to catch it). As well, at the end of each blog post there is some small print and in there is a place to click Comments. Many of you sent comments directly by email (which was awesome to receive- thank you), but it would be lovely to receive your stories and feedback right on the blog site for all to read and share. DON’T BE SHY! WE WANT TO READ HOW THESE POSTS RELATE TO YOU AND WHAT YOUR TENDER MOMENTS ARE! Thanks for visiting everyone!

 

 

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