Coronavirus deals bridge players wild card; seniors now getting savvy with online play

Posted at 1:39 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 17:33:17-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It's a card game where you and your partner silently plot to take tricks.

"It's highly competitive, it really stretches the mind," said Jane Farthing, a Williamsburg bridge player.

Bridge is a bidding game played by thousands here in Hampton Roads.

"It's fun to see everyone and catch up that face-to-face camaraderie we have built," Farthing said.

Bridge clubs across the Peninsula used to be packed with seniors snug around 30-inch tables every day of the week.

"But we couldn't keep playing, we couldn't protect the players from touching the cards and passing it around," said Williamsburg player Dianne Morton.

The socialization has ceased and the clubs are now empty, as coronvirus dealt the players a wild card.

"It's hard, because we are a family," Morton said.

So these savvy seniors have shuffled things around. Players with a median age of 74 are now learning a new trick -- online bridge play.

"It's been a real learning experience. They say, 'Go to your DropBox,' and I say, 'What's a DropBox?'" Morton laughed.

"There are a lot of seniors that play in their 80s and 90s, and it's amazing as so many have figured it out," said Williamsburg player Cathy Hildebrand.

The ladies told News 3 that a normal bridge game at a club usually takes about 3-and-a-half hours and there are about 50 players.
Now they compete against 50,000 players worldwide and the play is faster -- only about 2 hours.

"It is so convenient, we don't have to get dressed up," Farthing said.

"I don't have to lug my gear and set up tables, but I do miss the people and the delicious food," Hildebrand said.

Another win? They're paring up with new friends all over the nation.

"We are getting more people involved, and I am reuniting people that moved from Florida to Seattle. We are just putting partnerships back together," Morton said.

Most importantly, they are keeping their minds as sharp as a spade.

"It's challenging. You have to use your senses, it's tactical and there is a lot of strategy," Farthing said.