In the first half of the 20th century, bridge was an important part of Apalachicola’s entertainment scene.
Each week the social section of the Times reported on two to three bridge luncheons hosted by the lights of local society, with prizes for the highest and lowest score. Ladies, and rarely gentlemen, attended delightful gatherings, both in the parlors of private homes and the dining rooms or banquet areas of the Gibson and Franklin hotels, the Grill and other inviting venues.
Is bridge about to make a comeback here?
Maybe. A group of 20 fun seekers have taken the plunge to attack the classic card game.
On Saturday, Oct 15, they attended an afternoon of Whirlwind Bridge, organized by Jane Harris of Apalachicola.
Whirlwind Bridge is a one-day training session designed by accomplished bridge players and teachers, Patty Tucker and Melissa Bernhardt, to provide easy-to-learn bridge instruction and strategy for players of all skill levels.
Players attending the local session last month mostly said they had little to no experience, or were lapsed players who wanted to take up the game again.
Benedict Hall was the setting for the seminar. Harris arranged for Whirlwind Bridge founder Patty Tucker to teach here.
According to her website, Tucker began playing bridge in 1965 at age 11 and played in her first tournament a year later. A familiar face at national and regional tournaments, she earned national recognition for winning the North American Open Pairs National Championship in 2000 with her husband Kevin Collins. For the last several decades she has devoted more time to teaching and developing material for students, experiencing a deep satisfaction in sharing with others her love for the game of bridge. She is the coach of the bridge team at Georgia Tech and is a member of Georgia’s Bridge Hall of Fame.
The lessons began with a short history of bridge, which evolved from the 17th century card game Whist, and was popularized by early American industrialists, who refined the rules to make the outcome depend more on strategy than chance. The rest of the class consisted of alternating lectures and hands-on play.
At the end of the day, there was a celebration with wine and pastries from Apalachicola’s Fresh Market. Students received two exercise books, authored by Tucker. Several players expressed shock at how fast the amusing afternoon had passed.
Harris said there are currently no formal plans for a bridge club but some participants in the class have begun practicing in small groups so Apalachicola may soon see a resurgence of the favorite card game of the Gilded Age.