Duplicate Lite bridge players (left to right) Valerie Wilson

Duplicate Lite bridge players (left to right) Valerie Wilson

New club bridging the gap for beginners

Duplicate Lite draws large crowds in first month of operation

Walking into a hall filled with more than 70 people playing bridge, one could assume the organizing club was well-established, having slowly attracted members over a number of years.

But for Duplicate Lite Club, such attendance has been the norm since Day 1 – which was less than a month ago.

Co-director Jane Youngberg attributes the non-profit group’s early success to a welcoming atmosphere that encourages everyone to play, regardless of skill.

“We found a niche where this community wants to exercise their minds, they want to learn and they want to come to an environment where they can feel comfortable,” she said.

“Here, they come and it’s so friendly and it’s so low-key, and duplicate bridge doesn’t have to be so competitive.”

The weekly sessions can be relaxing for experienced players looking for a break from the “taxing” environment of competitive clubs.

“They want to come and play bridge and they want to have a good time and it doesn’t really matter if they get a mastered point or not,” Youngberg said, noting such competitiveness can be intimidating – and discouraging – to those just starting out.

“They feel it’s going to be too hard and too nerve-wracking. Whereas duplicate is just a different form of the game that anyone can play.”

Duplicate Lite was started to give new players an inviting place to practise, and is the only club in the area that has a separate section for beginners.

Youngberg – an accredited American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) instructor – also offers an optional 45-minute lesson before each session.

The bridge boards for the subsequent game reflect the lesson material, so players can practice the concepts they just learned.

While the club isn’t the appropriate place to learn bridge – Youngberg suggests checking out White Rock Leisure Services for introductory lessons – it is a great resource for those wanting to learn a different variation of the game.

In duplicate, the same hand is played at other tables, which reduces the ‘luck’ factor and reveals players’ true skills by allowing them to compare results.

“I like the exercise of the brain,” player Valerie Wilson said.

“And you’re learning all the time.”

Not only is the game stimulating, but it offers an opportunity to socialize, fellow player Shirley Laidlan said. “It’s a very friendly environment, and we’re trying to keep it that way.”

For the club’s co-director, John Demeulemeester, the game’s draw is simple.

“It’s something that’s fun for people to play, and it’s fun whether you’re a new player or (experienced) one.”

And there is always room for improvement, Youngberg added.

“The beauty of this is it’s so much fun to see people learn and have fun in the process,” she said, noting bridge can also take players’ minds off any troubles in life.

“It’s really good therapy in so many ways.”

Duplicate Lite is held Thursdays from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, 12953 20 Ave.

Cost is $7, which includes hand records, coffee and snacks.

The club will also be offering a three-lesson program, Introduction to Duplicate, starting Sept. 8 for $20.

To learn more about the program – or for additional information on the club – call 604-541-4028, visit duplicatelite.shawwebspace.ca or email stayatcrescent@shaw.ca or demail@shaw.ca

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