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Building bridge to friendship Jean Chene | Sat, Jul 07 2012 12:00 PM

Eastlake has a bridge club. The club is the brainchild of Kathie Angione, a Canadian transplant and a big-time bridge aficionado.

“Building  a bridge club is sort of like building an army by having babies,” Angione says.

She learned the hard way how difficult it is to teach bridge to beginners, and then transition those players to officially sanctioned duplicate games.

But teach the game is just what Angione does at local venues in eastern Chula Vista and Bonita.

She started her organization by making flyers and offering free lessons and lunches. Since she already had a tournament director’s license, she obtained her teaching credential from the American Contract Bridge League and launched her first of many series of lessons. While she has developed a cadre of loyal followers, the classes evolved into establishing games where seasoned players could also participate.

“By the time I launched my first official game, with nine tables of players I had lured east with free lunches and free sessions, I was shaking like a Chihuahua,” she says. Not only had she had to master building a website for her club, but she had to figure out how to rotate pairs of players and how to score and post results online.

“If the number of players changes, or if someone doesn’t show up, it is very difficult to change the rotation and make it work.”

“I can definitely see why people purchase or take over bridge clubs rather than start their own,” says Kathie, whose children are grown, giving her time to devote to the ultimate game.

“Playing bridge has been a wonderful discovery for me,” says Jan Schottle. “I really have met wonderful new people, the game is endlessly fascinating, and there’s no more affordable entertainment than bridge.”

“Bridge is the ultimate thinking game,” says Marilyn Wolf, one of many retired teachers who have found bridge both fun and fascinating.

“It’s nice to always be adding to what you have learned and so great when it all works out in a game.”

Angione offers games and lessons in a range of skill levels.  All are sanctioned by the ACBL; many players belong to that organization and can earn master points if they wish.

Players of all levels are welcomed to the various lessons and games, whether they are new to cards, transitioning from party to duplicate bridge or brushing up on skills learned in the past.  Kathie can be reached at www.eastlakebridge.com and will be happy to advise interested players on the various games and lessons.

One of the challenges has been preparing the boards with the correct patterns of cards and preparing lunch for up to 40 or 50 people at the same time for Angione’s Wednesday game.

There also have been technical challenges. Angione created her own website from instructions.  The website has calendars, results of games, a roster for members, directions to the sites and other pertinent information. Players can sign up for games there.

Games vary in their intensity.  The weekly luncheon game is the most competitive and the Friday night Swiss teams are the most socially relaxed, where teams of four compete with other teams. Drinks and snacks are part of the ambience.

“It is all about bridges to friendships, an active brain life, socializing and a lifelong growing experience,” she says

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