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Posted at: Apr 21, 2017, 12:44 AM; last updated: Apr 21, 2017, 12:44 AM (IST)

Open hand(s)

It is not just a card game. It is a meeting of able minds, of great rivals, of great friends and, of course, of lifelong partners. Meet these avid bridge players from the city as they get ready for Chandigarh Open Bridge Championship

Mona

The game itself is more important than winning, they say. What’s the harm in practicing some more though? As the sun blazed on Wednesday afternoon, these bridge fanatics gathered at their basement ‘den’ at the Sector 42 Sports Complex to play some more.

At four tables, players, who have kept their date with the game for five decades, carry on as usual. Two diamonds is heard, followed by two no trump; as the fans whirl, the players continue, making way for another team member and dealing the cards again. Together they have seen seasons change and still, the high of their day is a hand of bridge!

Lone warriors

Sunanda Jain has played the ‘game of intellectuals’ ever since her college days; marrying an Army man made sure she always kept her date with the game. Her husband, a bridge-lover too, avoids playing in the same team. Do you remember that a former world bridge champion murdered his wife over her card-playing skills? Sunanda isn’t the one taking chances!

“I have travelled a lot for bridge championships. If there is a tournament in my city, I am not missing it for anything,” she says. This bridge regular admits that a ‘well played’ from a seasoned player gives her a high, even as losing tempers with the partner is a given!   

Avid hands

Joining her table is Dr Harbans Singh. “I diagnose each set of cards like a patient,” he says, and soon as he picks up another set, we lose him! Bridge is akin to ‘meditation’ for Col Govinder Singh. As the group breaks for a smallish break, he takes out a moment to share how when playing the game, the sole focus is on the next move. “The game is so engrossing that for the time we spend playing, everything else just ceases to exist.” He hurriedly finishes his tea and gets back to his meditation!

Having skipped her snacks, Manju Khaitan lifts her head only for a while before focusing again. Till the cards are shuffled, Capt PPS Sawhney takes a moment out to share how three senior educationists in Jalandhar injected the love for the game in him. 

Early days

The rookie of the team, Rajesh Chadha, who is just three years into the game, cannot contain his excitement. “The team that won the last championship in Delhi is going to be here,” he shares. In fact, everyone seemed to be in awe of Zia Mahmood, one of the best-ranked bridge players in the world, who always kept a straight face! Having played three national and one international tournament in this short span, Rajesh admits that he had his fan moment when he met Zia in Delhi during the last tourney.Not Zia, but you can see India’s finest in bridge and their game at The Lalit. 

So, are you game?

(The Chandigarh Open Bridge Championship 2017 is on from April 21 to April 23) 

mona@tribunemail.com


Final contract

The championship will witness as many as 30 teams, comprising five to six players each. Hosted by Chandigarh Bridge Association and sponsored by Steel Strips Group, the total prize money is Rs 2.5 lakhs. Bridge, the only card game that has a world championship to its name, is on the verge of becoming an Olympic sport! 

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