Monday, February 20, 2012

Mind Game for the Aging Brain

Painting (donated by Maria Louise Cohen)
on wall of the Bridge Room,
Hotel de Minas. 
I'm taking bridge lessons in San Miguel with Gary Mitchell, a master player and outstanding teacher. Gary and his wife live here year round and love it.  "It's paradise!"  he says, in the same enthusiastic voice with which he teaches his favorite card game.  

I bought his book, which he says we should study, and study and study.  What about Goren and others, I ask. He laughs.  Forget it. Terribly outdated, he says. Toss those old bridge books out.  The rules of the game have changed tremendously, become more refined.

So now I'm learning the game a la Gary Mitchell.  It's fun, and it's hard. But what a great way to keep one's mind agile.  Focus, logic, memory.  All basic requirements to play bridge.  I  can see that it will take years to learn to play the game well.

I will give you the basics, Gary says, but the best way to learn is to memorize the fundamentals, know the rules, apply the lessons and play.   Keep playing. "So we can play contract bridge soon," another learner says with a smile.  "Oh no. No way!" he says.  "You'll be beginners for at least two years."  What? "beginners" for two years?

Okay, I'm resigned.  I probably won't continue playing with my friend Phyllis and her lovely bridge group back in Sylvania (with great thanks for steering me back to the game), but I'll be open to practice games with learners, keeping my brain going, and knowing I'll be a beginner for quite a while.  A beginner to the end!
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