Men Vs Machines: My Dad and His 90+ Year Old Friends Learning Virtual Bridge in the Age of Social Distancing

My father  is 89 and has played bridge for many years. He has a  group of four men and  he is the youngster in the group. The senior member is 97.

Bridge and social distancing are problematic because you must sit relatively close to each other, touch each other’s cards and breathe the same air.

So one of the fellows had the idea of playing bridge online. Yes, the eldest person in this group is 97 and these men did not grow up with computers, cell phones or tablets. They do not routinely play games with online strangers or bots. 

They decided to play at 1pm each day which was a bit of an issue for my Dad (warning Seinfeld moment coming). Dad likes to eat lunch at 1:00 and needed to change his lunch time to 12:45. Dad didn’t want too many hours between dinner and lunch, so  I suggested that he institute a snack on bridge days to compensate for the earlier lunch. Problem solved!

Pregame – Dad initiated a conference call. Each guy was giving the other players directions on how to play online but in hindsight none of them knew what they were doing. It was a good social exercise.

Day 1 – The game is set up; virtual bridge table is ready to go but only one person is at the table. Where are the other guys? Calls are made, websites and spellings are checked and game ends before it even begins; not everyone was able to get online.

Day One: Computer 4- Men 0

Day 2 –Isn’t much better as three of the friends are able to get on the virtual table and the fourth is somewhere in cyberspace. One player volunteers to hang up so that he can dial-up the fourth player on, what my Dad refers to as, the Landphone to coach him onto the site. Determination was appreciated but didn’t win.

Day 2: Computer 4- Men 0.

Day 3 – Started off very promising. My dad signed on to the table,  his name was listed in red and after he clicked on his name it turned to white, Success! Dad was seated at the table and miraculously so were his avatar friends! His cards were dealt, and he was ready to go. My dad is waiting at the computer screen wondering waiting for somebody to start.  He finally receives a call, on the Landphone,  from his bridge partner asking him why he isn’t bidding. He had no idea it was his turn!  OK a bit of delay but Dad goes back and makes a bid to pass. In response, his partner leaves the virtual game, Game Over! Again, calls are made to figure out what happened only to find that his partner clicked the wrong button and ended his game.

Day 3: Computer 4- Men 0.

Day 4 – All men are at the virtual table. All men have their cards.  Dad was supposed to bid but there was a glitch and again his avatar left the game.  No problem, the men just substituted him with a bot. Are these specific Corona Rules?  Dad was having none of that and he clicked back in and removed the Bot.  Kind of like a virtual transformers battle! Dad beat the bot and was back in the game.  Which lasted 1.5 hours.

Final score: Men 4- Computer 0.


2 thoughts on “Men Vs Machines: My Dad and His 90+ Year Old Friends Learning Virtual Bridge in the Age of Social Distancing

  1. Pingback: Three Generational Views of the New Normal - Vickie's Views

  2. Lori

    Thats Upside of All this… We are All stretching outside of our comfort Zones to live Comfortably in This New World! Bravo to your Father and his Friends! 👏


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