GOOD DEAL: Thirteen high card points, a five-four distribution in clubs and diamonds, ace and king of spades and singleton heart. Bob Northam is sitting pretty with an attractive one-club opening hand Bob Northam alongside fellow Grafton Bridge Club member Joan Stephenson at South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.
GOOD DEAL: Thirteen high card points, a five-four distribution in clubs and diamonds, ace and king of spades and singleton heart. Bob Northam is sitting pretty with an attractive one-club opening hand Bob Northam alongside fellow Grafton Bridge Club member Joan Stephenson at South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club. Bill North

An opening hand too good to pass

AT 66, Bob Northam is among the younger generation of Grafton Bridge Club members.

The Ulmarra resident first played the card game two years ago. But the retired Grafton Toyota accountant said if he had his time again he would have learnt to play much earlier.

"I always saw the results in The Daily Examiner and always had in the back of my mind that I wouldn't have time to play until I retire,” Mr Northam said.

"But I never realised it is also played in Grafton on Tuesday nights for people who work. I wish I'd known that 30 years ago.

"So I started playing a year before I retired on Tuesday nights. Now that I'm retired I play two or three days a week.”

An interest in similar card games such as euchre and five hundred made Mr Northam an ideal candidate to take up bridge, which is played between two pairs of players using all 52 cards in the deck.

"If you like euchre and five hundred you're halfway there and really should take the step,” he said. "Bridge is more competitive, more challenging and more fun.

"What I don't like about five hundred is once you pass you can't rebid again. That's the beauty about bridge; you can pass but you're not out of the bidding.”

"Plus they're a great bunch at Grafton. They probably just need a few younger people.”

Copmanhurst's Joan Stephenson is a former club president and has been playing the game for 30 years.

"I read in the social pages of The Daily Examiner they were asking if people would like to play,” she said.

"Joan Fahey and I came along and we haven't looked back since.

"We used to play at Legacy House in Fitzroy St, then we moved to the RSL and then here at South Grafton Ex-Services Club. When this burnt down in the 1989 we moved out to the Five Mile Hotel, and then back here again full time.

"It's the top card game worldwide. I enjoy the camaraderie and the competition of playing against the room of people.

"My advice would be to learn to bid first, and then learn to play the cards.”

Grafton Bridge Club players meet at South Grafton Ex-Services Club every Thursday at 12.15pm for 12.30pm start and Friday at 10.15am for 10.30am start.

South Grafton Bridge Club offers gameplay at the same venue on Tuesday nights at 5.30pm for 5.45pm start.

Each session consists of about 24 hands played with three to four hours of gameplay.

Membership costs $20 and cost to play is $2 per session.

Bridge lessons are held every Saturday from 2pm at South Grafton Ex-Services Club. For more information phone Grafton Bridge Club president Fran Hiatt on 6642 2882 or 0418 799 575.


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