The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Bridging the gap

Bridge Club’s elderly volunteers use bridge to connect two generations through their love of the card game
Keertana Senthilkumar
Leaning over a student’s shoulder, volunteer Catherine Bardsley points out the next steps during gameplay. By signing up for bridge club, Jefferson students show genuine interest in learning the game. “I find it fun watching people who are very quick to understand things, and yet who will be much better once they’ve had some experience playing. It’s just fun to watch somebody learn something they’re interested in,” Bardsley said.

Walk past Galileo, see cards spread across the tables, and hear the buzz of elderly volunteers among Jefferson students playing bridge. Jefferson’s Bridge Club hosts these volunteers weekly to teach students how to play bridge and grow as players.

“It’s a game that’s difficult, and you can spend years and years learning if you want to play well,” volunteer Catherine Bardsley said. 

Despite its difficulty, bridge serves as a break from school and a fun challenge for Jefferson students during eighth period. 

“I have come to Bridge Club since freshman year and it’s a good way to relax. It’s also the way to try and help you get your brain going after a long week of tests or useless classes. It’s nice to just play with friends and practice bridge,” club co-president Christopher Paonessa said. 

Bridge’s main two components, bidding and card play, add an element of collaboration to the game. The game is played with two teams of two called “pairs,” where each partner is seated across from the other and works together to bid on and win as many hands as possible.

“It combines the elements of chess, where you play by yourself, and the elements of the partnership, so it’s much more social,” volunteer Stan Schenker said. 

Through bridge, members of the club have made close friendships as they play together throughout their time at Jefferson, adding a unique dynamic to games. 

“I’ve had the same partner since freshman year and we’ve become so close over the years. I’ll make a subtle gesture with my cards or I’ll bid something and he’ll immediately take it on,” Paonessa said. 

Bridge itself only requires a standard deck of 52 cards and four players, making it an easily accessible game. Although it’s played less today, bridge was one of the most prevalent games throughout the 20th century.

“It’s just one of those things, in our culture, that goes through different waves of popularity, and it used to be very popular decades ago but it seems to have languished over the years,” Bardsley said. “Bridge had its heyday decades ago, but it’s such a good game that I would like to help foster enthusiasm in people who are younger than I.”

Through Bridge Club, volunteers hope to share their love and interest in bridge with students. 

“This year, we have a lot more beginners, so I’m trying to instill in them the same enjoyment I get out of the game: that’s really important to me,” Schenker said. 

Jefferson’s Bridge Club attracts students who are genuinely enthusiastic and interested in learning which adds extra enthusiasm to the volunteers. 

“The appeal of TJ is this is obviously a pretty high caliber group of students and there’s also a self-selected group. People have signed up for Bridge Club, so there’s obviously some degree of interest and seems much more worthwhile than trying to get a group of students who may have a typical and average range of aptitudes,” Bardsley said.

The shared interest between the volunteers and students creates a collaborative environment. 

“[The volunteers] also help organize the tournaments and they’re just there to help play with other people who don’t understand. I feel like they’re the life of the club because they’ve taught everyone at one point or another,” Paonessa said. 

The volunteers provide Jefferson Students guidance and a chance to play against experienced players. 

“They provide all the expertise that we need to actually continue playing. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t know half the tricks that I do about the game,” co-president Neel Sharma said.

From the February 2023 Issue of tjTODAY

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