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Duplicate Bridge Club

Moab's Duplicate Bridge Club
open to Visitors and Locals alike

by Carrie Switzer

Probably one of Moab’s longest-standing clubs, the Duplicate Bridge Club attracts a loyal band of card players for an evening of strategy and skill each and every Monday night.

Having never played the game of bridge, and having read one issue of the regional bridge player’s review in utter horror that I wouldn’t be able to understand a single concept of the game, I made clear to this very friendly and welcoming group that I was there to report on the social aspect and camaraderie of the club, rather than the game itself.

Most of the players I met learned the game in college or early adulthood, and confess to a “lifetime of learning.” Duplicate Bridge is set apart from “Party Bridge,” they tell me, because the cards are dealt to the tables in advance, so that each set of partners plays the same hand against a new set of opponents as they rotate from one table to the next. Hence, it is a game of skill, having the element of luck removed from any newly shuffled deck.

Kay StoyeThe Moab Duplicate Bridge Club first met in the Hospitality Room of the First Western National Bank, now known as Zions Bank. It was the late 1960s, and Audrey MacDougald and Kay Stoye were among the organizers. The group met twice a month.

Kay and Audrey are still among the first to arrive with refreshments at the Bridge Club’s current meeting hall at Saint Francis Episcopal Church on Kane Creek Boulevard. Tom Kuehne and Bill Schultz are the Life Master players of the group, having earned the distinction by playing – and winning – tournaments throughout the Western Region. Tom offers advanced lessons to experienced players for a half-hour prior to the 7 p.m. game.

The Four Corners Area boasts open Duplicate Bridge Clubs and tournaments in Grand Junction, Durango, Vail, Montrose and Cortez. Many of Moab’s players travel regularly to these games, and particularly to the Peach Tournament in Grand Junction. This year the Peach Tournament will be held August 13, 14 and 15 at the Holiday Inn.

Bill SchultzConversely, players from these towns, and some visitors to Moab from across the nation, make their travel plans to coincide with the Monday night Duplicate Bridge game.

“I’ve made a lot of really good friends here over the years,” Audrey said.

Cathy Birsfield, a regular at the club during spring and summer months, spends half of her year in Moab, and the other half in Florida. She plays bridge in both places.

“I just love the Moab camaraderie,” she says, adding, “I like to play bridge for the social aspect, but it also keeps the brain cells exercised.”

This is a group of above-average intelligence, for sure. While mingling and snacking and visiting are the norm upon arrival, a hush falls over the room once the games begin. Some players are Zen-like in their attention, while others are intensely watching and slapping down their cards. Still more are precise and deliberate, or quite relaxed. Styles run the gamut.

Tom KuehneEach table seats two sets of two players, and depending on the number of players who call ahead to reserve a place at the table, one set of partners may sit out for a hand at a time, again rotating among the group.

This goes on for 15 minutes or so, players taking “tricks” while the manager of the game, Kaye Stoye, keeps score. Games usual go for three hours or more.

Kaye, Audrey and others have played with the same group for 35 years, and many others have been playing 10 or more. However, this is not the only game in town. There are other “afternoon” clubs in Moab, Audrey says, but they are closed. What distinguishes the Moab Duplicate Bridge Club is that it is open to all, visitors and regulars.

“Bridge is always Bridge,” Audrey said. “The biggest difference is that Duplicate Bridge is scored differently. You are scored on how well you play your hand.”

As manager and organizer, Kaye takes the calls during the week that will determine the turnout and set-up of the Monday night game. She also gets a kick out of giving a yell and a clap to get the game started.

“You should hear me if they get too loud during a game,” she jokes. “I use my Navy voice.”

Kaye may be reached by phone, 435-259-6364. Locals who have Bridge-playing company coming to town can call for a seat at the table, and perhaps simultaneously finding a niche in your own community previously concealed in anonymity.

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