Center opens borough’s first official bridge club

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Talented bridge players in the Bronx can now earn the title “life master.” 

At the end of September, Riverdale Senior Services (RSS), a longtime gathering place for enthusiasts of the popular card game, formed an American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), the first of its kind in the Bronx. 

Because the club is sanctioned by ACBL, players will be able to gain “master points” for a round well played. When a player accumulates enough points, he or she becomes a “life master.”

Until RSS formed its league, there were no sites in the Bronx where bridge players could officially earn master points, as they are defined by ACBL. 

“What I love about the game is its depth,” said RSS Director Richard Marchione, who happens to be a life master and certified bridge director. “It’s a really amazing game.” 

Though he was in the midst of directing a game at the center on Monday afternoon, he took a few moments to explain the hype around the game, in which four players sit around a table and “auction” and play cards based on a scoring system in which each suit and card number has a particular designation. 

Mr. Marchione compared playing the game to solving a mathematical problem. 

“It can be that deep. That’s what the fascination is,” he said. “I could teach you something today, refine it tomorrow and refine it again and again the next day.” 

Internationally, there are about 3,200 certified bridge clubs that use about 2.5 million tables. 

In the Bronx, Mr. Marchione said, he personally has the names of about 5,500 players within a ten-mile radius. 

“That gives you an idea of the size and scope of the organization. It’s big,” he said. 

The club plans to host its first official tournament on Thursday, Oct. 9 at RSS. Along with the tournament, the program will run on Thursdays, starting in October, preceded by lunch for seniors. 

The news is exciting for players like Robert Rubinstein, a lawyer who has participated in bridge games for almost 40 years. 

“It’s very stimulating. You’re using your brain constantly,” he said. “You’ve got to be alert to play this game, you can’t go to sleep. Not even for a second.” 

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