Players spurred by hope of a trick-winning day

JOEL MAXWELL
Last updated 11:54 29/10/2012
Paraparaumu Bridge Club
JOEL MAXWELL / Kapiti Observer

Hand out: Paraparaumu Bridge Club members playing the first round of competition on Friday, from left, Gillian Travers, Dorothy Broadbent, Tony Staniford and Marie Groves.

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Reporter Joel Maxwell continues a regular feature on Kapiti clubs. This week he looks at Paraparaumu Bridge Club.

Each wall in the main room of the building in Ngahina St bore the initial of a compass point, embossed in gold on wooden plaques - north, south, east and west. In this building, they have nothing to do with travel.

Settled down at one of the nine tables operating at Paraparaumu Bridge Club on Friday was president Tony Staniford: ready to play after speaking to the Kapiti Observer about the club in the last days of his tenure as president, a role he'll hand over at its November annual meeting. After that the 10-year veteran of bridge playing will stay on the club committee, as part of a staged retreat from administration.

Mr Staniford's wife introduced him to the trick- winning game, played between two competing partnerships, each player taking a separate side of the table denoted by a point of the compass. He stuck with it, spurred on by its competitive element.

"Even if you play socially, everything's scored . . . it's fairly structured . . . and you know whether you got first or last or in the middle."

Bridge is a bit like golf, he said, there's always that opportunity to have a really good day.

"It's like a Holy Grail out there - you go out there and think 'today's the day'; and yesterday wasn't."

There's a certain perception about bridge, he said, discussing a bridge column run in The Listener complete with demonstration hands. People see the game as elitist but that's simply not true.

"When you look over the makeup of our members, I mean they come from everywhere . . . all sorts of backgrounds, it's quite incredible."

He said the 239 Paraparaumu members were generally in the "old age bracket" but it had a batch of new players coming through now who were probably in their 30s.

The club holds three tournaments annually as part of the New Zealand circuit that draws players from around the region.

"It's very tense. The Paraparaumu Bridge Club, you could almost class as a semi- social club, but when you get into a tournament there's some real players there, some real guns."

Despite the intensely competitive nature of tournaments, Mr Staniford said there should be no arguments between players, ever.

"When you're playing bridge there's always what we call a director."

If there's a problem, if people have a question or someone does something wrong, players can call in the director, who makes the nearly-final call on the matter. If the disagreement continues then it is kicked up to an appeals committee at the tournament.

Then there is the very top level of the game around the world - which includes the likes of Egyptian actor Omar Sharif.

You have pay to play bridge with Sharif, said Mr Staniford with respect.

Sharif's achievements run to creating a travelling bridge "circus" in the 60s - nowadays, smartphone users can download Omar Sharif Bridge apps.

On Friday as the first round of play kicked off in Paraparaumu, the room became silent, the players intent, enjoying the less pricey pleasures of competition in Kapiti.

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BUILDING BRIDGES

To find out more about Paraparaumu Bridge Club call Tony Staniford 902 1472, or email staniford@clear.net.nz. They have two learners' programmes, in April and July. The club runs seven sessions a week - four during the day, and three at night. Play runs for about three hours at each session.

- Kapiti Observer

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