Rick Millians

Rick Millians

Rose Smith has a doozy of a New Year's resolution.

She has vowed not to complain about her cards at the bridge table this year. 

Oh, she still can make faces, grunt, groan or grumble inaudibly. But to hear her exclaim, "I never get any good cards!" is not going to happen. 

At least, as long as she sticks to her resolution. 

Rose can't complain, but she can silently agonize, said Helen Waller, another regular at the Tuesday afternoon bimonthly bridge group at the Villamar clubhouse. (We also have a bi-monthly Thursday night group that mostly plays at Beth Rice's house.)

Rose also is known for always getting the two of clubs, the lowest card in the deck.

"It's my signature card," Rose said. "I always get it."

To that, Mary Baker says if Rose has a signature card, then she wants one, too. She wants her's to be the ace of spades, the highest card in the deck. 

Before she made her New Year's resolution, Rose used to have a series of exclamations that her partners — and opponents — tried to decipher as though they were smoke signals. Does that noise mean Rose has a good hand or a bad one?

I've played bridge with tall people (Jay Hodges — if he says you reneged, don't argue with him), Georgia Tech fans (Joe Wright — one of the nicest Yellow Jackets I know), a beekeeper (Jim Poyner — wow, he makes some good honey), and multiple Procter & Gamble engineers (our soap still floats but my three no-trump contract just went down).

I've played bridge on card tables, kitchen tables, ottomans, countertops and stool seats. 

I've played two-handed bridge (usually with my roommate Charles Middlebrooks in our freshman year at Georgia in a version of bridge we made up), three-handed bridge (another version I made up) and, of course, standard four-handed bridge.

I've played bridge with people who don't know a finesse from a face card. And I've played with people who thought they were as good as Charles Goren, a bridge player and writer who helped popularize the game in the '50s and '60s. (Goren appeared on the covers of both Sports Illustrated and Time magazines).

I've played bridge in dorm rooms, fraternity houses, living rooms, dens, basements and kitchens. 

I once tried to play bridge in the Champions Locker Room at Augusta National Golf Club. I sat down at one of the bridge tables and tried to get up a game to no avail. Augusta National member Bill Gates, who says, "playing bridge is a pretty old fashioned thing in a way that I really like,” was unavailable.

So I kept one of the bridge score pads with the Augusta National logo on it as a souvenir. 

Yes, bridge is the perfect game for old folks like me. It helps keep our minds active. A sage person once said: "To be sure you have a 'full deck' later in life, play bridge." 


(I also read the bridge columns in newspapers and online every day. The one in The Union-Recorder is my favorite because the type is bigger and easier to read for us senior citizens.) 

Audrey Norrie used to play in four different bridge clubs. She's 98 and sharp as a tack.

There are bridge games all over Milledgeville every day, although at least anecdotally, the card games canasta and hand and foot are making inroads.

Add bridge to the list of things millennials have been accused of killing, joining razors, mayonnaise and Applebee’s (well, maybe that's not such a bad thing.)

They are missing a lot of fun.

From bridgeworld.com, one person writes: "Bridge is such a sensational game that I wouldn't mind being in jail if I had three cellmates who were decent players and who were willing to keep the game going 24 hours a day."

Some fella named Michael Neuschatz said bridge, "is simultaneously fascinating and fun. In pursuit of winning you meet the elusiveness of perfection and the perverseness of chance. In preparation, you have the opportunity to develop and refine your system as linguistic science."

I'm not sure if "linguistic science" refers to our bidding or what we talk about in between hands. Our conversation is heavy on the health of our friends and relatives, as well as some sports (Can you believe Jake Fromm is entering the NFL Draft?).

But, yes, the "pursuit of winnng" is uppermost in all of our minds because the stakes are astronomical. All eight of us put in $1, so the person with the highest score wins $4, second place gets $3 and the low score gets $1. We add and re-add the scores to make sure they are correct. 

When Judy Franson wins, she treats herself to Starbucks the next day. 

Millie Murphy says my dad, Bill Millians, always wins, but he denies it.

And, of course, you can't play bridge without snacks. One time, Ann Bertoli had just gotten back into town, so she grabbed what she could find in her pantry. Let me tell you, she keeps a tasty pantry.

Salley Flood, who is from Minnesota, always brings an eclectic mix, sometimes including Scandinavian treats.

But the Hostess with the Mostest is Beth Rice. Her bridge table is always up. The candy and nuts are always plentiful.

Brain stimulation, good conversation, sweet and salty snacks.

Bridge has it all. 

And, by the way, through two sessions of bridge this year, Rose Smith is sticking to her New Year's resolution. 

So far. 

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