Friday, May 22, 2009

The Mind Game

Another of my eccentric interests (besides tax protestors) is bridge. It's a great game -- intellectual, social, and exciting all at the same time. But there is one big problem: it's out of fashion. Your image of bridge, let's face it, is that it's a game your grandmother plays. The average age of members in the official league, the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) is 67 and rising. Players are dying faster than new players are joining the league. The league is not doing a good job of recruiting new players, particularly younger new players. I'm no longer less than half the age of most of my opponents, as was true when I joined the league, but a lot of them still have at least 20 years on me. I figure organized bridge has about another 10 years before it's all over, because there won't be any players left.

That's why I'm not sure whether this article today's NY Times is good or bad. It suggests that playing bridge regularly may help stave off the onset of dementia.

Well, that's nice, and the ACBL has actually used it before as a recruiting tool, but an article about how bridge is good for the over-90 set (really, the article is all about a study of people older than 90) is not exactly a big turn on for the 20-40 something crowd that bridge needs. I'm happy that bridge helps people, but the article just cements the image of bridge as a recreation of the old -- the very old, in fact.

Funny, my 1950s-era Emily Post says that you have to play at least a passable game of bridge or you won't get invited anywhere. Imagine. Times have changed.


Elizabeth Jose said...

You have old etiquette books too? I love reading them, especially to see how gender roles have changed (or not).

Anonymous said...

I thought the take-home point of the article was that old people are vicious. Thank goodness my bridge friends are tolerant. Of course, maybe that will change as we age.