The Sunday Reflection this week has been contributed by Ged Hockeridge and Judith Crowhurst, members of the Merry Harriers Bridge Group.
On Wednesday 21st February 2018, Judith Crowhurst began the daunting task of teaching some of the residents of Hambledon the intricacies of Bridge. Word spread quickly (well, it is Hambledon) and the original four swelled to a dozen or more regulars, possibly encouraged by the venue being the snug of the Merry Harriers. The Group soon became a Wednesday night fixture at the pub – until the Covid-19 lockdown on March 23rd. However, the small fact that we were no longer able to physically meet wasn’t going to stop us!
Judith soon tracked down an internet app called Trickster Cards that could allow the Group to move into the virtual world. A week after lockdown four of us had a test game to understand how the app worked and how to use the technology, especially video. To start with we used ZOOM video on our mobiles and Trickster Bridge on a laptop. It was a pretty complicated set up – but it worked.
On the 15th April all of the Group were invited to play and 13 signed up. That was over 10 weeks ago and we now regularly have 3 or 4 tables and up to 18 players (some couples occasionally double up). The Merry Harriers Bridge Group must now be the biggest regular virtual online group in Hambledon – or is there another?
Over the course of the lockdown some things have stayed the same, such as the pre allocation of individuals to tables, but others have evolved like replacing ZOOM with the integrated Trickster video. We have had a group ZOOM meeting and sometime check up on other tables using WhatsApp or ‘ZOOM bombing’ their video – just to say hi and a quick ‘cheers’. Judith frequently supplements our games with emailed hints, tips and quizzes and we’ve even introduced a couple of new young players who have made a massive impact on the average age of the Group – although their bidding can be a bit flaky at times.
The technology, and our ability to use it, has improved a lot. Alongside Trickster video we have started to use the ‘chat’ function and emojis to further enliven our in-game communications 😊.
So, as this is a reflection piece, what about the future? Well, even if pubs do open in July it will be difficult to play a socially isolated game of Bridge in the Merry Harriers’ beer garden. When will we be able to move into the snug again, sit at the same table and use real playing cards? Who knows? We could possibly sit a metre or two apart at the same or even different table and use Trickster on a mobile phone over the Harriers’ Wi-Fi. Necessity is the mother of invention after all!
Until we can return to the Merry Harriers we will continue to play Bridge, socialise, drink responsibly and have fun virtually. Has it been worth it? That’s best answered by some of the comments that have been emailed around the Group over the past couple of months:
- Thank you all for making last night’s Bridge a reality. It was great to be able to play and interact electronically. I shall endeavour to be a bit more controlled with the mouse next time….
- It is a lot of fun and nearly normal in a slightly weird world.
- We had a fab time despite some mediocre cards. Pauline joined us momentarily but struggled, unlike Rick Wakeman, to deal with two keyboards.
- We had a fab night of monster bids and some great games. We are happy to continue playing together but if anyone is interested in swapping wives then do give me a call.
- It really is one of the highlights of the week, so see you again next Wednesday.