Learning to play bridge had been a goal to pursue after retirement in February of 2018. That goal was delayed
by a bicycle accident followed by surgeries and rehab. When I was finally recovered, I reached out to my friend
and neighbor Larry Abramovitz, an active Villages DBC club member, who directed me to Bob Matthews who
promptly returned my call and promised to notify me when a beginner class was scheduled. That was
September of 2018.
As promised Bob contacted me in January 2019. To my dismay there would not be a beginner class until April.
Nevertheless, I promptly contacted the instructor and enrolled. There were some students in that class with
whom I immediately forged a friendship and others who became my friends later.
We were encouraged to practice but trying to find time and places for four persons to get together. On a break
a classmate did ask me to be a substitute for one of the practice regulars in their group. At the conclusion of
our class attendees were encouraged to try one of the duplicate groups for beginners and I began attending
the Wednesday morning game at Eisenhower Recreation Center.
I had very little confidence in my ability but Director Marilyn Schmidt assured me it would get better. The
classes over to summer of 2019 introduced new concepts and assisted me in reinforcing others learned in the
beginner class. I was especially impressed by Janet Matthews and Andy Sloan. My fellow players in the under
20 Wednesday group also encouraged me and invited me into their fold.
Then the pandemic hit. I initially was part of a foursome that practiced in each other’s homes. Concern about
the virus let us to trying playing on BBO. A couple of the other players knew how to set up a practice table and
taught me to do it. My partner had to drop out sue to professional commitments, the same friends who
introduced me to practice on BBO connected me with another online partner. I have been playing and
practicing with her and another partner from the beginner class since the shutdown. I have achieved my Junior
Master status. The efforts of Janet Matthews to get club games up and running on BBO have played a large
part in reaching this goal.
What could District 9 and/or ACBL have done better? I wish I had known about the option of setting up
practice sessions online earlier. We were encouraged to join ACBL. Perhaps there should be more information
and/or classes on how to set this up. It also turns out to be great preparation for playing in the Virtual clubs
Between the time I received your request and having time to sit down and respond Carol Ketterer has come to
the rescue. I now have a supportive mentor in Sharon Kruger. She had taught me a tremendous amount and
has willingly dedicated her time to me. With her help I have now achieved Club Master status. It is my hope
that some sort of online classes for will be available in the near future.
I’d like to close by thanking the Villages DBC, District 9, and the ACBL for their efforts and wisdom during this
pandemic. It has provided me a sense of connectedness during this time of disconnect from usual activities. As
a retired health professional, I applaud your decision to cancel all in person tournaments.
Sharon Swofford