How I learned to play Bridge

How I Learned to Play Bridge


As a sophomore in college, I had not become a member of a Social Fraternity. In fact, I had not even visited any houses the previous year. One of my high school classmates had pledged Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) and seemed to be enjoying an expanded network of friends. 

At Rutgers, pledge season was the first week of the second semester and usually Freshman were invited to visit houses. For Sophomores, the pledge season, was extended backwards to a one week period two weeks before first semester final exams.

I received a couple of invitations under my dorm room door and because I had my classmate's example, I decided to try one. The Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) house was next door to the TKE house {my cousin's boy friend from our home town as also a member there}, so I figured AXP would allow me to make new friends and have old friends next door as well.

Anyway, I was accepted as a pledge and would go through pledging with the new pledge class of freshmen in four weeks time. The first four weeks were great, since the pledge program was not in effect yet and the brothers treated me and another early pledge almost as equals. We still were given orders by the brothers and expected to do some extra duties, but it was nothing compared with what was to come!

Once we began full time pledge class activities, there was a great increase in duties and some minor hazing {usually pushups for failure to say "Sir" to a brother or forgetting his middle name, etc.}. Often a brother would need some pledge not actively occupied and command as an example, "Pledge X, go get me a hamburger and fries".

I noticed at free time, such as before lunch or dinner, that a fairly large group of Brothers (perhaps 10-12) liked to play bridge. I had grown up playing all sorts of card games, such as Hearts, Pinocle, and Spades and could see that the game had some similarities to them. it was a natural decision to learn to play. Using a book found at the library, the basics of the game were quickly learned. Of course, if you play bridge, you know only experience makes one a player, so I asked one of these brothers if he would teach me.

Being a fast learner at card games, it wasn't long before I was able to hold my own. I need to explain my ulterior motive at this point. Often there wouldn't be enough players for the games being organized and that many times three guys would be looking for a fourth in order to play. I felt that if I learned to play,  I would become one more potential player in the general pool!

contract bridge

This scheme worked well, once it was discovered that  I knew how to  play pretty well, I would be invited to partner up with one of the brothers {bridge is a four person game of two teams - hence the need for a partner}. Now, while waiting for lunch or dinner, or visiting the house during an off period, I was often playing bridge and when another brother would come into the room and ask me to do a task, my playing group of brothers would ask him to find another pledge since I was their fourth!  

One day, I discovered that my conspiracy wasn't completely a secret, when one of my regular partners said to me in admiration; "Pledge Nipe, you were pretty clever to figure out how to avoid all the tasks the other brothers seem to heap on your pledge-mates. On top of it all, the other brothers don't realize you planned the whole thing!" He added that the brothers mentioned how the other pledges avoided the house when they weren't required to be there, but not Pledge Nipe!

Davdan @ 2008-2018