Danny Liddy is bridge development officer for Clare and he says the game is flourishing.
“In Ennis, there are four clubs playing in the bridge centre. There are clubs from Killaloe to Kilkee, New Quay to Cratloe. There are two new ones, Cratloe and Doonbeg.”
Outside the clubs, there are many who enjoy playing in a more casual setting. “You’d have an awful lot who’d play at home and who’d have an interest but mightn’t come to the club that often. You’d have massive interest in it.”
Rita Cassidy is North Munster bridge secretary and she says that players of all levels are catered for. “There are all grades, so you can play at your own section, there’s something for everyone.”
Danny says that the game can be a fantastic interest for older people. “It’s great for people who are on their own and for older people. A woman called Annie Leyden would have been playing up until she was 92 and she had a focus every Tuesday and Wednesday night.”
While many would associate card games with luck, Danny says that bridge is more about skill. “It’s competitive and it’s different from any other game in that all 52 cards are in play and the element of luck is minimised because of that. In 45 for example, you could be lucky but it’s different in bridge. It’s more skill than luck, now there is a bit of luck involved too but it’s minimised.”
Rita says that other card games have little interest for her now that she is committed to bridge. “I don’t play them anymore, I did once but not now, I played them all at some stage. Now I know people who do play them but I wouldn’t be interested.”
She enjoys the camaraderie of the game and the links it forges between players.
“The one thing about bridge is that you can be sure of a good funeral,” she quips.
There are a number of Clare players representing Ireland such as Bob Pattinson, Enda Glynn and Pat Quinn and Danny says there are a range of different competitions. “You have structures right through, from club to county to region, there are about 13 regions in the country. You have ordinary club competitions, then county competitions, then people go forward to the region and maybe after that to national level.”
Those who want to compete at a high level can pursue their ambition but that’s not for everyone. “Quite a number of people wouldn’t be interested in playing outside their club but there are people who’d want to win the county or the region or to do well in national competition.”
The game can be something of a rollercoaster he says, with real highs and lows. “It runs the full gamut of emotions really, you’d have elation, frustration, exasperation and desperation.”
A bridge column will be commencing in The Clare Champion next week.