The Beautiful Brain

Google “benefits of playing bridge” and you’ll be surprised at the number of articles published on how this game keeps the mind active and youthful.  In 2000, according to blueberrybridge.com, a professor proved that playing bridge increases the levels of infection fighting T-cells in the blood stream.  While the average age of an American Contract Bridge League member is 67, the large number of nonagenarians and older that play bridge is not just a coincidence – it’s an interesting AH-HA statistic.  Whether it’s the focused strategic thought process or social team player interaction, there’s no doubt that playing bridge is an extremely good exercise for the mind.

For instance, Peterborough (Ontario, Canada) resident, Hazel Brunford, a top bridge player, turned 100 in July. Then there’s Lily Hansen, 103, of Ludington (Michigan, USA) , who has played bridge for nine decades and is the director of a duplicate bridge club. “Everybody asks how come I am 103 and still driving … still around,” she said. “[Bridge] keeps your brain working. I honestly believe that.”

The Midland Bridge Club (Ontario, Canada) has its own nonagenarians: Noreen Baer, a long-time member and multi-year Terry Fox Walk participant and Sheila Hawkins, bridge teacher and eponym for one of the club’s rooms – The Hawkins Room.

According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), Hall of Fame tennis star Martina Navratilova wrote that bridge “is more than just a card game. It’s a cerebral sport. Bridge teaches you logic, reasoning, quick thinking, patience, concentration and partnership skills.” Warren Buffett, 85, who plays bridge with Bill Gates, age 60, once said that he wouldn’t mind going to jail if he had three cell mates who were capable bridge players.

In May, the Midland Bridge Club made a strategic move into its new home at 427 William Street.  With the help of generous donations of money, materials and labour, the inside has been completely transformed, redecorated and upgraded.  Accessibility is superb with the rooms being all at ground level. And the tables are permanently set up for players to just sit down and play. There are regular ACBL sanctioned games on Monday afternoons and Wednesday evenings.

The club, with its full kitchen, climate controlled rooms and huge parking lot, is an ideal place for area residents to host a card party in exchange for a donation. In December, the Full Deck bridge group, who used to play at the Calvary Baptist Church, began to host their Thursday afternoon games at the Midland Bridge Club.

– Wendy Smith