Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Is Bridge a Good Hobby?

For years, my non-bridge friends (an endangered species as on January 2009) have responded with astonishment, curiosity, and even disapproval at how much time I spend playing bridge and how much money I spend traveling to bridge tournaments. They just don’t understand, and most of them never will, but I try once in awhile to enlighten them, only to end up feeling even more distant. What they don’t understand is that it’s not so much about bridge that keeps me interested – it’s just that bridge is a way, my best way, to connect with other people. It’s a good conversation topic for those of us that share this interest, probably in much the same way that model airplanes or chess, or comic books, or basket weaving is for other people. And for people like me who sometimes have difficulty with conversation, that’s a very good thing. But it is also about problem solving and engaging the mind in a problem that cannot be solved or mastered – that’s where a lot of the thrill is, as well. Since most of us don’t get the intellectual stimulation we desire at work, we need a hobby that caters to that desire.

Lately, I’ve been thinking and asking fellow bridge players what life would be like without bridge? What would take the place of the large quantities of time spent on bridge? What do normal people do all weekend? I hardly remember. I mean, it wasn’t even 2 years ago that I was playing bridge only sparingly because spending time with H was so much fun. But, really, what did we do? What hobbies did we share? Nothing really. Why was it fun? I don’t know any more. Everyone needs a hobby or two and who are we to judge whether someone else's hobby is good or bad, as long as it doesn't cause harm to us? And in order to be true friends, you probably should have a few hobbies in common.

Rather than spend my money making fake airplanes or buying comic books or video games, I choose to spend it on air fares, hotel rooms, entry fees for bridge tournaments. In the last 2 years, starting with the summer nationals in 2008, I have been to 33 tournaments and played 174 sessions, including 8 tournaments I flew to, and only one (the FISU tournament in Poland) was without expenses, and only one of those trips do I regret going on (Reno). Maybe someday that will change, but probably not any time soon.

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