Glenna Shannahan – Madison Bridge Club
Authentic Business Adventures,
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the struggle stories and trying some
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owners across the land.
We’re locally underwritten
by the bank of Sun Praire.
Downloadable audio episodes can be found
at the podcast link found a drop
in custom.com. And today we’re welcoming,
preparing to learn from Glenna Shanahan.
And this is interesting here,
world class bridge player,
what it says here, and the owner
of the Bridge Club of Madison.
And before Glenn gets talking here,
I just want to point out we are
in a building that has a bunch of tables
for people to learn how to play bridge
and to actually play bridge,
which I had no idea that existed.
Really, I had no idea.
When I had the address and I’m driving
up here, I didn’t know what to expect.
It was just back room somewhere.
But this is a building,
standalone only thing.
So if you’re in the bridge, great.
If you’re not quite in the bridge,
you will be soon.
Glenna, how are you doing today?
Great, thank you.
I’m doing very well.
I’m excited for a couple of reasons.
One, I’ve heard people talk about bridge,
but I guess I have never played bridge,
so I’m probably one
of the people that do that.
Well, come on in and prepare
to be a student here.
I would like that.
I like you students.
How long have you had this?
We’ve had it well,
three of us bought it 29 years ago.
In a couple of months.
We ran it for 27 years,
but one of the partners had cancer
and needed to get out of the the
the bold business book over, because
bridge is really my passion.
How did you get into bridge?
Well, that sounds very interesting story,
but I used to play tennis and golf
if I could, five days a week.
But my third pregnancy was very toxic
and I had to give that up and implementing
how lonely and bored I was going to be.
And a girlfriend said, oh, come to my
house and I’ll teach you to play bridge.
And I said, a card game.
She said, yeah, you might like it.
I said, I don’t think so.
She said, Just come try it.
So we went over and sent her kitchen
and she taught us how to play bridge.
And as soon as the baby was born,
I was back playing tennis and golf.
But then a girl I really liked
and respected called me up and said,
glenn, I’d really like you to learn to
play bridge and become my bridge partner.
And I was so flattered that she would ask.
I called up a bridge teacher and she said,
well, if you can find me eight
people, I’ll teach a class.
But I found her 24.
And it was really interesting.
She said to me one day,
I kind of feel sorry for you,
blend it because you’re going
to become addicted to the game.
And I said, oh, no.
And I did.
Here we are.
Here we are.
All right, so toxic
pregnancy led to all this?
You never know what’s
going to be good, right?
Well, for many years I
did all three things.
All right, I was busy.
All right, so what do we
have on the table here?
Well, I’d like to explain how this card
game is different than most others.
Most other card games you’re playing
with your friends and it’s three or
four people sitting around the table.
I guess in some card games
there are seven or eight.
Like we play hearts,
we have a whole crowd.
But in bridge,
there’s four people at a table and you
come to bridge with a partner.
And it’s not by me, it’s all by compass.
North, south are partners
and Eastwester partners, all right?
And we have like 17 vocabulary words.
We have four numbers, seven numbers
and four suits if you’re playing in a suit
contract and if you’re
playing in no trucks.
So I need to explain the difference
in those two, if you don’t mind.
No, you spoke a different
language to me just there.
Bridge is like a foreign language.
That’s the first thing people should know.
All the games we played today basically
stemmed from China 2000 years ago.
And they didn’t have cards,
but they used coins and metal
and bones and sticks and whatever.
And in the 9th century, in the King 90,
they actually played a game
similar to what we played today.
And in the 1350s, the Egyptian Vagabonds
took it to England.
And that’s why the names of some
of these things are European names.
So it really takes a few weeks
for people to get comfortable enough.
And when I teach bridge,
I tell them it’s like peeling
an onion to learn to play bridge.
Your mind can only absorb so
many new things at a given time.
So what I do is the first week introduce
the game and all the mechanics of it,
bidding boxes, boards,
table guide cards and explain
to them what these are used for.
And then the next week we tackle no trump.
And no trump means that if you’re playing,
the highest card played on the table wins
the trick, and you win that trick,
you lead to the next trick.
And so there’s no triumphant.
Just sometimes the two
of clubs take a trick.
And in social bridge,
they’ll often have a prize
for whoever takes a trick that day
to a club just gets the lowest
cardinate that contract, all right?
In suit contracts when
you run out of a suit.
And if you have trump,
you can win the trick by playing a trump.
So that’s the difference
between no trump and suits.
We play boards.
This is a duplicate board.
And I teach with duplicate boards because
all it is is a means for me
to carry hands around it.
Different tables can play the same hands.
So it’s a means of communication.
I suppose it’s easier to teach instead
of just the students end up with random
cards and you have to right.
For a two hour class.
The first hour, I introduce the topic.
We go through some
exercises so they see it.
And in the last hour,
we actually play four hands that deal
just with the topic that we learned.
And so what I tell people,
it’s kind of hard to ask them to trust me
at week one because they don’t know me.
But learning to play bridge is like
planning a European vacation because it
takes months to put it all together.
That’s one aspect.
The second aspect is the joy of it.
And the third aspect is coming home
and enjoying it and rethinking about it.
The bridge is sort of the same way.
The first four weeks,
you just have to take me at face value
and learn what I ask you to learn.
And then at the end, we put it together.
So there’s three aspects
to learning bridge.
There’s the bidding, the play of the hand,
and then the defense of the hand.
And they’re all simple.
They are very simple to learn.
But the problem becomes that you have
to have a partner and you and your partner
have to have the same thought
process and the same skill level.
And then you enter in with two opponents
and they’re trying to do you in.
So putting it all together and dealing
with three other people, it’s difficult.
So is there no tabletop?
I have clean hands.
You can talk.
But if you and I were playing rich and I
wanted to open the bidding,
I would reach in the spinning box,
put my thumb on what I want,
my fingers at the back,
and I pull it out and I put it like
this so the whole table can see it.
So there’s no asking.
There’s no idea how many speeds you got.
None of that.
And so we do that and people say
that we’re too serious at bridge.
I have to tell you, there are days
that we laugh and have such a good time.
But we are serious when
we’re playing the game.
But let’s say you have
three boards per round.
You and your partner come here
and we play our three boards.
And when that’s over,
we start chatting and we can talk about
the hands we played or what you did last
night or what you’re going to go there.
It’s very social.
And then when the time is called,
I have a timer in the corner that gives
people an idea of how much time they have
left and if they need
to hurry up or slow down.
It’s just something
that helps them keep going.
As a test is a time game.
Oh, it is?
How long do you get for hand or board?
Okay, well, hand,
we have to talk about it.
Playing with three boards
at my table for 21 minutes.
And when the time is up,
I take these boards to a different table
and get new boards, and you go
to the next table and play those people.
And the reason is the most popular port
of a bridge is because you take
these boards in a whole room place.
I’ll put out 27 boards,
and they play all of them well.
When you have that many people playing
the same hands, you’ve taken
out an element of luck.
There’s still a little luck in the mouth,
but not like regular card games.
There’s some skills.
So the people that are better
at the game will advance.
They win master points.
And that’s what that word back
there says for LifeMasters.
And then on the right side,
it says on the past.
These first columns are people who are
LifeMasters in the years
they became LifeMasters.
It takes 500 points today
to become a lifemaster.
And then are those decades?
Those are decades.
Do you have people from the 1960s?
He started playing.
He was a chemistry professor,
and he started playing.
And his wife is down there,
just a few beneath him.
They’ve been playing together
since 1967 or something.
And they have 14,000 of them.
How do they keep track of it?
Well, we have a home office.
It’s called American Contract.
And it’s in Memphis.
And we pay them as a club owner,
I pay them half games, they’re sanctions,
and then I pay them so much per game.
And then I pay them so much per table.
And in return for that, they keep track of
everyone’s master points in the picnic.
To become a lifemaster, you have
to have certain colors of points.
Colors of points.
We have black points,
which you win at club games.
We have red points, which you can
win at club games, are sectionals.
You have silver points that you
win only at sectionals.
You have gold points that you win
at nationals and at regionals,
and then you have platinum points
that you can only win at the nationals.
Well, we have four national
tournaments a year.
No, it’s not right.
We have three street in the country.
For instance, we just had one last
month in Providence, Rhode Island.
In November, it’ll be in Phoenix,
and next March, it’ll be in New Orleans,
and in the summer, it will be in Chicago.
So a different town every time.
We had them in Canada at both
direct on Vancouver and Montreal.
So do they just set up hundreds of tables
and people play bridge until they
can’t hold cards anymore?
When I was younger, we first started,
they would sometimes have three sessions
a day, and we’d all play
three sessions a day.
It is addictive.
I have no idea.
It’s so interesting how there’s
a national organization for anything.
Bridge, plastic plants, anything.
Well, the thing about bridge is that
you can play it however you want.
You could have three buddies over
and sit and have beers and play bridge.
You could invite three other couples over
and have dinner and then
have a bridge party.
You could come here and play
And the reason we get addicted
to competitive bridge, I think,
is that first of all, it’s social
because we’re here having a good time,
eating and drinking.
There we are.
But it’s also problem solving.
Each individual hand is like a puzzle,
and you’re trying to figure out who has
the ace of diamonds, and if he has the ace
of diamonds, he must have queen
of clubs, that kind of thing.
And so after playing 27, 28 work,
I am actually going to retire because
I’m keeping track of all those things.
And thinking about things.
But our vocabulary can we talk about that?
This is called hand cards is my hand.
And you have a hand.
But what’s confusing at the end,
we’ve played this and we say, oh,
on hand one, the whole board is a hand.
So our vocabulary words are sometimes
like statemen and copy transfers.
Those were named after the people
who first invented them.
We have something called casino count,
which was invented by a
Hungarian casino count.
It’s kind of interesting.
Just learn all of this stuff.
There’s a lot going on.
It is very challenging, I think.
So when people play bridge at home,
are they using this plastic thing
or they’re just dealing cards?
So this is just to help organize?
It’s to organize, and it’s to allow us
to compare scores on the same hands.
So let’s say you and I did to a game
contract of four hearts,
and we don’t get a very good board.
We can look at it after
the game is online.
It’s called Acbo Life.
Well, we have a dealing
machine, all right?
We make Japan put them
on a dealing machine.
They make the boards for us, we play them,
and then that hit record goes out online.
And we played beforeheart, and we didn’t
get a very good score, but why not?
Well, we can look at it.
Unfortunately, we got the best
lead in the room for them.
So other people made five
and we only made four.
All right, so you are able it’s almost
like self education,
because you can see what you might have
done better or what you didn’t
think to do at the time.
So I think I have people here who,
in my opinion, have more fun going
home and going over the boards.
And they actually do it plays really okay.
They’re trying to figure
out how to get better.
Coaching themselves, kind of looking
at past plays, so to speak.
So the shuffle machine,
dealing machine loads these things.
And that’s online.
The results are online.
The results are online.
With a copy of a hand.
It’s called a PBN file.
And we put that do you want
to see the dealing machine?
I can sure.
This is the dealer machine.
What is that?
I put my flash drive right here.
I turn it on.
I click it on the dates
that I have prepared.
I can’t really put all these in.
I’ll put these in because these are
already made up for my game Friday.
Okay, but you put in a deck of cards.
Actually put the card at a time.
Right over here.
Then another deck of cards.
And you turn it on, and it opens,
and you insert it in here.
Push the button, and the cards
are dealt with these boards.
So this machine keeps track of what
cards are going in what pile.
So then when you go online later,
you can see what Chan was, and.
You see what everybody did.
How come we got a top board?
Well, we did three trump
instead of three clubs.
All right, so it’s really a nice way
to keep track of your of your experience.
So you tell the machine, hey, I’m
teaching these people, so I can do that.
I bought another program
called the Old Master Pro.
And let’s say I wanted
to teach you no trucks.
I go into the Old Master Pro,
and I download eight hands,
and I print them out for you.
And I say, we’re going to play
these eight hands, and we do.
And then you have a record of them to say,
oh, that’s what she meant.
Because, see, everybody learns secretly.
We have visual words, audio words.
I can only learn something
if I write it down.
So when I teach bridge, I try to
teach it in those three manners so
that no one is really left out.
It’s covered all the bases.
I tried to.
That is crazy.
So the cards that you use with this
machine, are they
specific to this machine?
No, I ordered them.
There’s a huge company called October,
but that’s Baron Rich Products.
They sell cards and machines
and all that international.
So these are cards
specifically for bridge?
Well, or you can use them you
can use them for other games.
I don’t play that many other games.
No other game.
You need to know,
but I bought something like 60 decks
of new cards when we came back from the
Pandemic, and we wanted to do cards.
That is cool.
It’s surreal because I see this
must be a little camera there.
So it’s reading the face of the.
Card, and sometimes
a card will get stuck and it’ll splash
up error and tell me what’s wrong.
Did it not read the card correctly?
And so you can push cancel and see the
hand and put the card in the right place.
When I first started,
it took me like 40 minutes to make a dick,
I bet, because we make
28 words for each game.
But now I’m down to like 18 minutes.
So you get much faster getting these
things open and putting them
in and being ready to go.
Wow, that is slick.
It really is.
I think most of my people
are baby boomers.
It’s kind of interesting.
Not that many younger people play.
I have an 8th grader oh, really?
Whose mother drove him to Philadelphia so
that he could play in the youth
championship at the summer regional.
And then I had two young
men come here from Epic.
Well, now they bring for seven of them.
So it’s interesting how bridge grows.
I think floor by word of mouth than
anything somebody says,
oh, did you see that?
They have bridge there.
Some people didn’t want to and stop me.
I was pulling flowers in the garden.
She said, do you have to play euchre?
And I said no.
That is cool.
So when you first got into bridge,
I guess when you first got with your
partners to start this, was there any
other business that was doing this?
the first duplicate in Madison was held
out at the airport in the World War II.
The officer’s wives were lonely and born,
so some of them knew how to play bridge.
And they started a bridge game
airport for the officers wives.
And then it wasn’t big enough for them,
so they started inviting other
people that they might meet.
And so Ridge has been going
on here since the 1940s.
Was actually Ridge Overall.
Was during the Depression because people
didn’t work, didn’t have jobs,
they were going crazy.
A lot of people learned to play bridge.
So when you went to well,
let me back up a step here.
You get your business partners.
How did you figure out what business
partners you were going to have?
Oh, that’s easy.
I was not a bridge, and one of them was a
lifemaster already and very experienced.
And I think the other one was also
a lifemaster, but probably
not as experienced.
We just had fun together.
And about twelve of us would go out after
a rich game at night to have a drink,
and our minds could recall all the hens.
And we would sit around
and we would say, oh, I’m 47.
What did they lead against you?
Did they lead?
And we would talk bridge.
Ford cell phones.
Did you know about 30 phone numbers?
Wait, yeah, before cell phones.
I just speed that on my kids because I
can’t even remember their phone numbers.
Yeah, it’s the same with bridge.
If you didn’t have hand records and all
this computer stuff,
you would just remember the hands.
Anyway, the three of us
enjoyed each other.
One of them was in charge of being
some program at the UWS.
He was a department chair.
The other one was just a handyman.
And then I kind of like making
things nice and red colors.
And so we were kicked out of this
building, and we found a place to rent.
And so the guy said to me,
you pick out the paint and the carpeting.
We’ll do the work.
And we worked well together.
So the next time we got kicked out
of the building, I said to them, let’s
find a small building and just buy it.
And they said, oh, how would we do that?
And I said, I don’t know, borrow money.
So they said, all right, find this one.
So I got in the car and I drove around
Madison for two weeks, I think.
And we used to live in Arbor Hills.
And I drove by there one day,
and it was for sale,
and we had to repair the back wall.
It was a store that cleaned
motors and engines, so the whole place
was just filled with oil and grease.
I had to have someone come
in and clean all the vents.
We scraped everything down.
We repaired that wall and made it whole,
and we bought it in the first
two or three years we owned it.
We had to pay taxes out of.
Our own pockets because not
enough of them coming in.
Even though it’s been 30 years, almost
sure it was still pricey back then,
because we used to charge
$3 to put bridge.
It’s never been a big money.
You did all right.
But anyway, that’s how we moved
in here and got it started.
And then when we knew that we were tired
of being hit out,
the three of us went together and bought
pay taxes out of our own pocket.
All three ran rich games here.
So were the three of you
working in other day jobs?
Well, I wasn’t, but they both okay.
Just to be able to sustain
this or keep it going.
And then we hired other directors.
We had one guy who directed
on Wednesday night for, like, 15 years.
Wow, that’s impressive.
He was here rain or shine,
he never missed.
People are really loyal to bridge.
All right, that’s cool.
That’s really cool.
I call it the community?
I would think so.
And that teamwork makes the dream work.
It’s perfect for me because I could not
possibly run this club and all the games
and all the teaching and all
the things that people do here.
So everybody, I think, should always
thank the director when they leave.
The director sits at that desk.
He’s made the boards,
he brings streets, he runs the game.
He makes rulings at the table,
and there’s an infraction
and he sits there and works.
He doesn’t have any fun.
We’d all ever be directing.
But I have people who do things for me.
If I buy a trunk full of sodas,
leave the trunk.
I’ve got three guys who are
out there bringing it soda.
Before I get the car.
Yeah, it’s little things like that.
It’s a cool room.
So do you have employees?
Well, I don’t call them employees.
But the directors beyond just you?
I have games here six days a week
and still three games online.
So I can’t like how that is.
A lot of bridge.
So have you found, I guess,
what is the ideal time for a bridge?
Any time, anytime.
Stupid question, James.
Come on, Jim.
Oh, it’s funny.
We have to get you into bridge because
you would be such a nice asset to that.
I played cards before, and I’m not
the greatest, but you know what?
I’m not a great card player.
My friend invited me to poker
just to take my money.
I don’t know.
Well, I’ll invite you
to bridge like a jack.
That’s totally fair.
So how do you get the word out?
Because you said
I guess this word of mouth is best.
Let’s go start somewhere.
I have to tell you, my team,
I call us the bridge club of Madison’s.
Better bridge team.
And I call us that because people
with expertise in certain
fields have contacted me.
So about five years ago, this woman said,
glenn, I’m retired, and I think
you need to have a website.
So she did the website five years ago.
Five or six years ago that’s the.
Internet has been around for a while.
But I didn’t need it.
Well, I didn’t even know about it.
I didn’t think about it.
All right, if you’re not into techy
things, not techie at all.
I just wouldn’t know we were here.
We had to sign up front.
But anyway, she called
and offered to do this.
So she got together the website.
Then she collected I used to make
individual little telephone books
with people’s name and phone numbers
and addresses so that when it’s your
birthday, I can send you a card.
All right, well, she said,
let’s do that online.
That way when somebody moves,
instead of the book being out
of date is the day it’s printed.
We can keep it up to date.
So she put all of us online.
There’s a place that you
can go on our website.
Just like, if you wanted a game with me,
you can go with my phone
number up and calls on call.
And she’s kept that up to date.
And then about three or four months ago,
a woman contacted me and said,
I really like to do something nice
for the bridge club because
I’m so enjoying playing there.
And she said, Could I
help with the website?
And I said, well, thank you.
It’s very nice of you, but Mary does that,
and I wouldn’t want to step on her toes.
And she said, Well, I’ll call Mary.
So she called me back and she said,
we’ve worked it out.
I’m going to help Mary, but I’m going
to start a Facebook page for you.
You really need a Facebook page?
So it’s things like that.
We realize that it takes a whole village.
The team is getting going.
That is cool.
That’s what makes us functional.
All right, so tell me about the equipment,
because I see a sink as a calculator.
This is called the bridge made.
And if we were having a game,
I would set the game up on the computer.
I would start these, and then I put one
on each table, and I put it by north.
And it’s North’s responsibility
to make sure that all the names are
entered, because once your name is
entered, each time you go to a table,
it shows that you’re there
until the airponents know who’s coming.
When the hand has been placed,
like we’ve played hand one,
I would go here and go to board one,
and I would say what the contract was, in,
which direction played it,
and then if they’re successful or not.
And that goes to the computer.
So those communicate to some big database
somewhere in the net, and then I.
Can turn on this screen
near the end of the game.
And when most of the boards have been
posted, I can flash the results up
on the screen and they can
see where they’ve come in.
And I always say, there’s a late player,
there’s two boards
scored I’m going to fix.
And they’ll usually wait for me to correct
it, because even though they’ll have
the results in a computer,
by the time they get home,
they still like to know what they’re here
so they can say to their
partner, that was fun.
We did better than I thought we did.
That kind of thing.
We can get people together.
That was very cool.
Tell me about it.
So, 29 years, almost 30 years.
We had a pandemic recently.
How does that change the nature of the
game or the nature of just the business?
Well, we closed.
Closed up shop.
We were closed for a year and a half.
Think what happened.
It hit in late February or early March,
and the first thing I did was I had
to buy a new first air conditioner.
Anyway, I made sure that I got a really
super duper filter system on it,
and I thought people would come back,
but they didn’t want
to come back for a while.
And even teaching I had to teach on Zoom.
Oh, that’d be tough.
Well, some classes you can teach on Zoom
and kind of get away with it,
but you cannot teach, like,
brand new people something on Zoo.
They have to have cards in their hands,
and we have to have that.
So I thought the thing about teaching
on Zoo was I had 21 people
from Vancouver in one class.
And then I had to do that locally.
Here I taught at three different
countries closer to California.
I used to live in California six
months a year in the winter.
And I taught at three
country clubs out there.
Some of those people took
Zoom classes from me.
And then I had a few Madison
classes that I did on Zoom.
All right, so do you still do those?
Well, I let my zoom expire because
I teach for Madison College.
Madison School for Recreation.
And here I don’t need to teach unsunit.
Do you teach four medicine college?
Like, medicine college is a class on.
Bridge where classes I
just have one a semester.
When we finished today,
I’m stopping there because my fall class
is starting soon, and I need
to know how many students I have.
So is that extra class, or is it
adult enriching adult enrichment.
I was just going to ask, are they
going for a diploma in bridge or no.
That is pretty cool.
But I suppose that teaching a class,
that’s also a feature
for the business here, right?
Well, it is.
I just taught my class ended Thursday
at Madison Public Schools,
and we have a bridge workshop here
on Friday morning for people.
I think five of them from that class came.
And this morning I got an email
from somebody who knew one of those people
and wanted to know if he could
come to the class Friday.
So that’s why I think word of mouth
is a big part of this business.
So the people that come here that are ten,
are they typically coming once a week,
or are they coming more.
Than very few people only come once.
A week or they come in more than half.
We’re talking two or
three times or holy cow.
I have a man who’s here yesterday,
not healthy at all, but he was telling me
in his heyday, he played
here six days a week.
Six days a week?
Well, that’s a healthy
addiction that works in brain.
Well, it is a good brain yeah.
That is cool.
You’re telling me just before we start
recording that I like to play chess, and
the chess and bridge are pretty similar.
The mental in, the mental stimulation.
And I think the fact that I really do
believe that we never know everything
there is to know about bridge.
That is interesting.
Well, because bridge
has changed in itself.
People have changed.
And you’re keeping up, you’re constantly
changing, so you just can’t ever right.
So you tell me the rules of the game
over the course of time.
I don’t know when bridge
Was it hundreds of years ago or well,
thousands, I guess, depending on how.
Far the 50s they called the of west.
And then it became the Westbridge.
Now, today we have the game
of west and we have bridge.
Two separate games.
They’re two separate games.
So I used to teach a lot on cruise ships,
and so one day I had twelve tables,
and the people who had been there
the day before weren’t there.
And I asked their friends where they were,
and she said, oh, they decided they
better support the west game thing.
So I left the room and went down
to the Whist game, 22 things.
Oh, all right.
I’ve never played War, but I’ve
heard Whist is compared to war.
Okay, but you’re trying to take
the tricks with a partner.
All right, but it’s similar.
Well, in the 1930s, Vanderbilt, I mean,
the rich royalty of if you want to call
them the royalty of United States had
a lot of spare time, so they
were very much into bridge.
And Vanderbilt said at that time,
it was auction bridge.
You just played bridge and did
whatever Vanderbilt said.
Let’s make bridge more interesting.
Let’s have contract bridge.
So what contract bridge is that we are
partners and we lived together, and we
reach a contract of three no trump.
Well, three no trump.
First you have to have
a book of six, right?
Then if we had three no trump,
we have to take the book of six,
and then we have to take
the three additional tricks.
That’s nine tricks and no trump.
If we’re successful,
we normally get the score for that,
but we get a bonus for being accurate.
All right, but the next time we vince
I go down, we don’t get a bonus for that.
Our opponents get the bonus.
Oh, all right.
So at the end of the day,
you’re comparing all these scores and you
come up with who is first
or second or third.
All right, so let me think.
Each person has 13 cards.
So does that mean there’s
13 plays in each 13?
Actually, they’re called tricks.
So when four cards are played,
that’s one trick.
And the person who won the trick
leads to the next trick, and it’s.
Essentially the highest
card based on okay.
And I’ll show you this.
You and I are playing bridge, and if we
win the trick, we put it down this way.
If they win the trick, it goes that way.
If they win that trick,
then we win this trick.
And then we win that trick.
At the end of 13 cards, you can look
down and say, oh, you made four.
Oh, you’re down to because
it’s right here.
In front of you, all right?
And then if we disagree,
somebody will say, oh, go back
to trick seven and see what was done.
And so you’ll go back and you’ll see
that somebody had accidentally turned
their card in the wrong direction or
something because they’re curious
about why it’s not the trick.
All right, how fast is a trick?
Are we talking?
People lay their cards down.
Let’s say I lead and you’re the declare.
So the person to the left is declare,
makes the opening lead.
Let’s say I leave this card
and you’re in a contract.
When you see this lead,
you’ve already looked at your dummy.
The hand that goes down is called
the dummy, but your partner
also becomes the dummy.
Another double meaning.
You will take a few minutes to analyze
the bidding and the opening lead,
and you’ll compare your hand
with that hand and see how they fit
together and where the strengths
and weaknesses lie.
And then you’ll call a card from dummy.
Dummy cannot touch a card until you
request it, and then that person falls,
and then you decide to win it or not,
either in dummy or in your handy.
So each trick could take minutes.
I’m used to playing with
fast, fast older people that they’re
trying to teach me and they’re just like a
high card and they throw a card so fast.
But I don’t know what just happened.
I know I lost, but that’s fine.
As I said to you, part of the pleasure
to bridge is that it’s problem solving.
So your brain won’t go that fast.
You have to think through things.
Okay, like, why would I leave this card?
I wouldn’t just pick
a card up and leave it.
I have to have a reason for it.
and so you’re trying to figure out
my thought process, which good luck with
that my partner is trying to figure out.
All right, that’s funny.
That is cool.
So how has the business itself changed
over the past almost 30
years in the same building?
Same building are not games.
We used to have games on Monday
and Wednesday nights and on Saturday
nights and Sunday afternoons because
people who worked needed those games.
Now our population has aged and we’d have
maybe ten people besides the young guys
from Epic, maybe ten
people who still work.
Okay, so it’s changed our night games
that I’ve put them online because nobody
wants to get in their car and drive out
in the rain or the snow
or the freezing cold.
And last night we had only five tables,
but sometimes we’ll have six or seven
tables, and sometimes we’ll
have only three tables.
I just never know who’s
going to show up to play.
When you say six or seven tables,
you mean four people at a table?
So it’s still a healthy amount of people.
Oh, it is.
Five tables, you get 20.
It’s still not as big,
though, as it used to be.
And virtual games weren’t
popular back then.
I mean, it’s called Bridge Base Online,
and they started it in, I think,
2004 because I remember
but during a pandemic, this sounds
impossible, but it’s worldwide.
You would click on because
you wanted to go play.
And it would say, 52,000 people
are now playing bridge online.
At that moment,
at that time,
and at one point in the morning,
they have games that there aren’t
that many people in there.
I’ve never been on it.
But I just loved it.
People said they hated it because
there was cheating that was
going on and online.
Oh, people cheat.
How do you cheat online?
Because you’re essentially fighting
against the computer with a computer.
But if you’re married,
your spouse is in the other room.
So there was cheating, and they
said it wasn’t social enough.
But what I found is that I loved playing
against people from India, Egypt, lots
of people playing from England, Bermuda.
One day I was playing and I don’t even
know how it happened, but for some reason,
the name just hit me is like a bell.
And I asked the young man where he
was from, and he said, as it was on.
And I said, oh, I was there eleven
months ago, and I loved your country.
Oh my gosh.
He started writing me
all these stupid chat.
He said, what is your ethnic background?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
So we became friends sort of online.
And who would ever think
that could happen?
Yeah, that’s cool.
So now in our online games,
we have people who played from Milwaukee.
We have two guys who play
every week from lacrosse.
We have people who live in Florida
in the winter, and some of them
have stayed down there.
They join us sometimes.
I have a father who lives in Dam.
His son is a physician in California.
They get together online to play.
These are things you wouldn’t
be able to do in the past.
So I guess even bad things
have good things come out.
Typically, that’s how they work.
I think Warren Buffett’s a big bridge guy.
Have you really?
How did you do a big one?
Well, when they started,
they were not very good.
They had hired a coach.
And it takes time, too.
Yeah, it sounds like it.
But I have to tell you what
was interesting about it.
I just saw two guys sitting there,
and I didn’t even think that.
I don’t even look at them.
I just say hi when I sit
down and check my cards.
Let’s go to work.
Maybe 7ft away from us were these two men
who had arms like this,
and they were standing in the doorway
doing this, and they had on white shirts,
very crisp and black pants,
and they just kept looking at our table.
And so I started paying
more attention to it.
And I looked at these guys, and I
didn’t recognize Warren Buffett at all.
But Bill Ginks was online.
I’ve seen them enough on TV,
and I knew who it was, but their
bodyguards are watching them.
I probably couldn’t beat him today, but.
I did years ago, back then.
Yeah, that’s funny.
It was so obvious.
You’re going to hire
bodyguards when you have them.
Not be quite so obvious, I suppose.
Arguments either way, right.
I don’t need a bodyguard,
but I have to tell you, oh, probably 25
or 30 years ago, I don’t even remember.
We went to a tournament,
and long rows, maybe 15 tables long.
I could see down at the end of this row,
people are sitting there watching,
and they’re called Pipppezers.
And there must have been eight or
ten chairs surrounding this table.
And I thought, who on earth
could be that important?
I got down there.
It was Omar Sharif.
And when he looked up at me and smiled,
my heart just melted.
I mean, he was a heart throbbing of the
moon, but here he was, plain bridge.
And he had so much Groovement.
It was incredible.
And then I don’t know if you’ve
ever heard of Barry Crane.
You’re probably too young,
but he had three or four TV shows,
and the most popular one was Get Smart.
He produced those, and he was
fletching to death by anxiel over.
But I did play against him.
He’s been around.
Playing bridge for a connected
like that, that’s pretty cool.
Well, I told somebody, I don’t know who,
but I really think bridge is almost
an international language, all right?
Because I’ve played bridge in so many
and friends, they were nice,
they were kind, they were helpful.
And I hope that when they come
to this country, we’re the same.
So is bridge as big in other
places around the world?
Oh, it’s bigger in China
than it is in the States.
Well, everything they do is big,
but all right, we have three nationals.
And the last time it was in Chicago,
I was in charge of one of the programs.
I was amazed.
China and I don’t remember the number
of the plane, but those the big planes
that have hole 500 people or something,
they sent a plane load of Chinese children
to Chicago for five days to plain bridge.
How young have children?
The youngest life master
Everest, I think eight.
But no, most of those kids were
like junior high schoolers.
They’re still young.
Well, China wants to win
everything, all right?
So they’re preparing them
to become British champion.
But that’s the only country I know
of that’s ever harder to play
just to transport kids there.
That’s pretty interesting.
That’s pretty bold.
organization that you’re talking about
does that keep track of worldwide or is
that just keeping track of national?
There’s a different organization
called the World Bridge Federation.
All right, of course.
And they make rules that all countries
they make rules that all
countries should follow.
Now, the United States is the only
in the World Rich Federation that allows
us at one time, like we’re playing four
hearts, and you show
out on the third heart.
I can see you.
You have no more heart, partner.
And that saves revoke.
So revoke is when you have a card you
should have played, and you didn’t.
There’s still weeks for that.
So the World Reach Federation,
I’ve been played in one in Montreal,
25 years ago, a friend asked me to go
play, and the first day,
they cut the fields in half.
The next day, they cut
the fields in half again.
And finally, he and I made it to the
finals of the World Bridge competition.
All right, well,
I’ve never played the screens before,
and screens are maybe two and a half,
3ft wide and probably 4ft tall.
And the screen goes across
the table this way.
Okay, so I can’t see my partner and you
can’t see your partner,
but you take your bids out of the bidding
box and you put them under the screen.
And then you can ask me what his bid meant
because you didn’t ask out loud,
because you don’t want your partner to
know that you have a question about it.
So anyway, playing with screens
in highlevel competition
is a very common thing.
Oh, interesting, because most people
have little signals or whatever they do.
Two people just recently
admitted to cheating, and she has
a past president, Basy Bailey.
She’s beautiful, wealthy, a fantastic
bridge player, and Gordon Cook.
And she was being inductive,
and she admitted she cheated, for one.
She just lost everything.
Well, I mean, it’s a big deal.
So were they just blinking or
moving their hands on the table?
I don’t know.
Husband and wife and he wasn’t good enough
for her, so they started
cheating so they could win more.
Okay, no, I don’t think
this room is cheating.
This is a game.
And you want to win
the game on your skills.
So hold on a second.
When you’re playing bridge,
I guess I always assumed it was just an
individual, and you got put on the table.
A few other people like it’s.
You and a partner and you
and that partner.
So if you sign up to play rich with me,
it’s for three and a half hours,
and it’s 27 boards, usually.
So you and me were hitting the table.
Okay, so it’s not so much individual.
So I imagine at one point you just
subconsciously pick up on nuances
of your bridge partner.
I think married couples do that more
probably than single people because they
know each other so well,
they should help but pick up on things.
But one of the rules at Bridge is when I
make a bid, I’m not supposed
to be looking at you.
Sometimes personally put down a bit,
and their partner goes,
all right, I’ve done it myself,
because you just think, oh,
my gosh, what’s going on?
You’re not really supposed
to show any of those.
You’re supposed to be just poker face.
All right, look away.
And you’re not supposed
to stare at the opponent.
You’re sitting here looking at your hand,
and I’m not supposed to sit here.
At you just intimidate them
into sitting low or something.
It’s the same sort of a gentleman’s
game as golf or tennis rules.
We’re expected to follow them.
So with bridge, I guess,
and all the people,
where do you see bridge going
in the next 10, 20, 30 years?
Do you think it’ll get bigger or
do you think it’ll just maintain?
Well, it’s kind of a two sided question
because more and more young
people are not playing.
throw School offered me to come in and do
a lunar threat class for 8th grade math
students or 7th grade students for bridge.
And the reason I told her that I would do
it is because for children,
it teaches them concentration skills,
it teaches them hangup doesn’t do that,
and it teaches them that negative
inferences sometimes are
more powerful than positive.
So she doesn’t look at both sides.
So I told her that it would
greatly improve that.
Well, she promoted it.
She talked it up, and only three
students signed up, so she canceled it.
But what we decided was if you had
somebody in your family,
a grandparent or an aunt or somebody
who played, you might be
interested in learning.
But if you’ve never heard of Rich,
who wants to take a Rich
with a class in a card game?
So I think that as we continue to grow,
it’s always going to be more
senior citizen type people.
Are the newly retired?
I had a class of newly retired,
and they were hilarious.
I don’t mean talk about having
worked too hard with her whole life.
She was taking art lessons in the morning,
and then she was coming here for a class,
and then she was going to one of the golf
courses for a putting lesson.
It was like that was her day, every day.
She just was doing everything she could.
Pick that never bored.
All right, well, I think when she works,
she must have thought,
someday I’m going to do this and that she
was trying everything out
to see what she wanted to do.
I just don’t know what the future holds.
What are the plans for you
with the business?
Well, I’m going to continue
running it as long as I can.
Obviously, as I age,
I need more and more help.
Because I can’t do some of the physical
things I used to be able to do.
But I’m going to keep it
until there is no more meeting.
I love it here.
I wake up in the morning and I’m making
treats to bring if I’m directing or this
morning I answered four or five emails.
People wanting to know more about Bridge.
It gives me I mean,
I love my children and my family dearly,
but I used to have golf and tennis.
Now I have my grandchildren in Bridge.
I’m still garden old.
You used to have a newspaper
called tell me about that.
Oh, I wish I could think of the man scene.
He was the person who wrote about
the operas and the plays, and someday
I’ll have to I may have it every month.
Anyway, he called me up one day and he
said, Blanc, this is so and so, and I hear
that you’re a very good, rich player.
I was wondering if I could
interest you in writing a column.
I said, writing a column.
I mean, I’m not a writer.
And I told him that and he said,
well, come in and talk with me.
So I went over there and I
agreed I would try it.
And so I did it for a year.
Every day or week?
Once a week.
But we have three children in a dizzy life
and all the other things I was doing,
and I’m a big volunteer at England
School for all my kids.
I just didn’t have time.
I use too many words for everything I do.
So I would write the column and let it sit
there, and then I’d go back and rewrite
it practically, but take out 30 words.
And then the next day or two, I’d reread
it and take out twelve more words.
And it’s very time consuming to write one
article this big
to spend that much time on it.
So I enjoyed it.
And I had people writing
me and calling me.
They were interested in bridge.
But you need somebody who likes it.
Right there’s, that yeah, that’s fair.
So I know that I talk too much.
We had a podcast, so that’s ideal.
Well, I don’t know.
It seems like I do something often.
Imagine when it’s something
social like this.
I can’t imagine an introverted
person running a show like this.
No, because I would think that a big
portion of the reason people come here is
to meet, likeminded people that are
there has to be a certain level of
intellect to play the game alone at all.
So right there you’re like, okay,
everyone that’s in this room
is at least this smart.
Whether it’s paper to justify it
or prove it or not doesn’t matter.
They have the ability and that alone,
you’re like, okay, well,
these are cool people because of that.
And then you play the game.
But yeah, there’s got to be camaraderie.
I would imagine that the person running
that has to have something to,
I suppose, help extract at other people
because there’s probably some
introverts that walk through the door.
And then after a few hands,
maybe they open up a little bit.
I have to say I am genuinely happy
to see people walking that door.
And I think when you’re genuinely happy,
they realize that.
So I have people who walk in this club and
walk up to me and hug me or something.
They walk out and they say thank you.
They’ll bring treats and say, here,
I want to share this with you.
Well, that’s awesome.
It’s really a family or community and I
hope everybody who comes
here feels that way.
Yeah, I think that I don’t know,
I see stuff like this and the reason
that I got into Chest is because I needed
to exercise my brain in different
ways than I do with a typical job.
You just want to I feel like your brain
and your body is it use
it as a kind of thing.
But most people don’t realize
that about their brain.
I am just fascinated with people.
I have a lady who comes here
and she’s always bored.
She never had anything plus and are happy
to say she’s just very down and I really
have worked on her trying to get her
to come around and she actually
paid me a compliment last week.
She didn’t mean to accident.
I didn’t mean to say that.
But I think we’re all going through life
the very best we can and it takes
nothing to be kind, so why not try it?
There’s no instruction
manual or anything, but no.
But she’s still playing bridge and is she
having a good time with your partner?
Maybe it might be worth their partner.
I imagine that there’s definitely a social
dynamic with any gamers sitting at a
table, especially for people like that.
Well, we play against
them three times a week.
You kind of know where they’re going
on vacation and how great her grandkids
are and her daughter just had twins
and I mean, you just know fun stuff.
Yeah, that is cool.
And I have to even take it a step farther.
I’m sure you live in some parry won’t know
this, but this is not
a desirable neighborhood.
It used to be.
I was going to ask you about that because
30 years that building wasn’t there,
these huge power lines weren’t there.
It’s a different world.
Well, when we first moved to Madison,
we lived in our hills and it was a nice
neighborhood and I think it still lives,
but all of this area back
here is no longer nice.
You have four families living in one
apartment building over there
in the corner, and lots of drug deals.
I would be here during the pandemic
to come over and run water and do things,
and you could see the drug deals
going on over at the Laundromat.
I would have a furnace guy say they were
selling drugs at 630 this morning,
that kind of thing.
So I was very sad
when I came here one day,
and there was like a dozen eggs broken
on the parking lot and a
dozen bottles of beer.
I came over here Sunday to work,
and there were two beer bottles out
on the parking lot I had to clean up.
So what I’ve done, and I’m out there
pulling weeds, and people walk by.
I talk to them and I say hi to them.
And I’ve got about four people
now who really like this club.
They come over, I’ve told them all they
have my permission to cut
all the flowers they want.
And a lady stopped, and they told me she
lost her son two months ago at age 27.
And she said, I come up here
and just look at these flowers.
And I said, well, please cut some.
And she said, I’ll buy a customer.
I don’t know.
I’m not going to sell this building.
It’s too close to the belt line.
Yeah, you are.
I have people who drive here
every week from Sun Prairie.
I have people who come in from Verona,
from Mount Horb.
I have a guy who started coming
from Plantedville, also.
Hike, are you?
But you’re coming?
Yeah, that’s the name again.
And if you can feel
I don’t know what word to use maybe, but
you feel like you’re having a positive.
Influence, make the world
a little bit better place.
Yeah, that is cool.
That’s why we keep it.
It’s interesting because I guess when I
was in the parking lot,
you look down there and it’s completely
opposite of looking north, I suppose.
Good or bad, I mean, cities evolve
or neighborhoods evolve, I guess.
Well, and I complained of three people.
Were they talking?
This guy, and he finally told me
he’s a plain closed policeman.
He said, there’s so many drug
deals going on around my place.
What do I do about that as
a private citizen?
He said, I’ll take care of it.
So I occasionally will drive by or come
over here, and there’s an unmarked car
just parked in my parking lot,
and they’re watching my neighborhood.
That’s a big job.
But I figure they probably have a pretty
good handle on what’s going
on in the neighborhood now.
Yeah, I imagine you hope so.
Anyways, it gives me
a little piece of mind.
Everybody’s got their routine
so even to our dealers.
So you have a cool place here.
And I feel like you’re making the world a
better place, which is cool with bridge.
And anytime I hear about
the Warren Buffett’s or the Bill Gates of
the world, I remember Warren Buffett’s.
I don’t know if it was
biography or autobiography.
Bridge sticks out because it was
mentioned, I want to say, almost as
much as stock picking in that approach.
I told you it’s addicting.
People don’t realize that.
They say, oh, it’s a game, but people
are addicted to gambling, food.
They keep putting them up.
And I think the thing about
bridges is the same way with golf.
You have a bad shot or a bad little golf,
you think, well, tomorrow when
I play, I’ll do better here.
Well, it’s the same thing with Rich.
Oh, today I was average,
but if we’d just done two boards
better, we could have won.
That kind of thing.
And you get into that.
What did you learn?
What did you learn?
Always be improving.
Is your name on the board there?
Where are you at?
Well, I became a lot Master in the 80s.
Oh, yeah, I’m up there.
I have 7000 master points.
Is that relatively speaking?
That seems like a lot to me.
Do you play bridge every
day when you’re here?
Sunday side direct.
And if someone comes without a partner,
I will play with them if I need to.
But most people come with partners, but
there’s been, like, three or four.
Like, the guy who came in from
Benjaminville came by himself.
He said, I used to play
bridge, and I’m retired.
And we welcomed him with open arm.
I feel like I would want to come here
alone just so you can be my partner.
Didn’t work out so much.
Somebody else came out of partner.
Oh, got you.
But I have to be honest.
I have maybe three partners
I play with the most often.
And then those are the people
I go to tournaments with.
You see, there’s club games,
then there’s sectionals, which are like,
we’re having a sectional here in December
in this building.
And then there’s regionals,
which are a step higher,
and then the nationals, so
you can do any of those things.
But when you go to tournaments and compete
and pay $36 for the day to play grants,
you want to play with somebody who you’re
in tune with and can be good
competition for the field.
So somebody who has not very many points
asked me to go with him to play and attend
it, and I let them down
as nicely as I could.
I said it would be a waste of your
money because you would have to play.
A flight A.
With me, you have three flights A, B,
and C, and you play in those flights
according to how many
Master points you have.
So he has 30 Master points, and he’d
have to play with me in flight A.
And in flight A,
you have Ridge Pros in there and people
who are a lot better than I am.
And so I tried to explain that to him,
and he just sort of shook his head yes.
I don’t think he believed me, all right?
But I was being honest with him.
People with 50 Masterpoints think,
oh, boy, I’m winning at Rich.
I’m pretty good.
No, because the world is figured out.
But then when they get to about 300, they
realize they still don’t know it all.
So there’s that learning curve.
You have to have a certain
amount of self confidence.
You wouldn’t come here and expose yourself
to likely be coming in in the first place.
I suppose you don’t want to let go of your
partner, especially the person that you
maybe just met that night a day, right?
It’s competitive, and you want to feel
like you have a chance to win.
I like it.
Well, Glenn, thank you so much.
I can hardly wait to see
what you do with this.
You gave me a lot to work with here at
the school place, so this is impressive.
I have no idea what to expect.
It’s cool because this is bridge facility.
You don’t see that with chess.
You don’t see that with poker.
Think of all the card games,
board games, everything.
You don’t see individual
buildings with those.
We have them with a bridge here,
so I think that alone speaks volumes.