Many of us think of bridge as a competitive sport, but Bob Gaudet, founder of the Family-Friend Bridge Group, points out three reasons to play bridge are to have fun, solve new puzzles, and compete, but only if you want to.
A former COBOL programmer for the business side of Polaroid, Gaudet had always played whist. In 1997, he began to learn bridge and in eight years became a Life Master, a title awarded for accumulating a certain number of masterpoints. But then, he got bored. At that point, he realized he wanted to help the newer players. But Gaudet, who grew up in Waltham, wanted to do more than just teach bridge.
Bridge Club Founder
In 2010, he founded a bridge club in Belmont to create a safe place for people to play without being intimidated by more experienced players. That grew to a club in Lexington, and today both is under the umbrella of the Family Friendly Bridge Club. He called it that to discourage cranky players, saying, “My job is to keep the peace.”
Here, in Winchester, he runs a Bridge Game and Party from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Jenks Center on Sunday afternoons. Newcomers are especially welcome and usually play in a separate section; there are special prizes, refreshments, and lots of bridge.
Gaudet has brought about 500 new players, who get together to play bridge. Three of his students have become Life Masters. The Club celebrates new Life Masters and special occasions such as a club member’s 92nd birthday, and mourns those who pass.
The spirit of the Club is in giving and helping other bridge players. It encourages newcomers and visitors in the area. In addition to duplicate bridge games, it encourages good community citizenship through club outreach and charity.
Taking Bridge to the Homebound
Daniel I-Chyau Wang is an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he founded the Biotechnology Process Engineering Center. Wang had a major stroke nine years ago. This spring, his son decided that Danny should play bridge once again – a game he had always loved. Believing that it would be good for him mentally and socially, the son discovered Gaudet’s website.
Danny’s wife, Victoria, was thrilled. “I can’t say enough good things about Gaudet. And the game is great for Dan. I can see it gets him stimulated, and it gets his competitive juices flowing.”
When Ann Matlin’s husband Ron became ill, bridge became an important part of his life. It allowed him to be socially active and meet others, despite his disabilities; it used his mind. Gaudet would take him to tournaments and bridge; games and give classes at his home. For Ann, it was a “Godsend.” Gaudet and the game gave her respite from her caretaking and a chanced to get out of the house.
Whether you are homebound or not, the intellectual challenge, the problem-solving satisfaction, and the social stimulation make the game of bridge so attractive to so many.