Ready… set… Bridge! Well, that isn’t how they tend to start their games, but when you’re standing in the middle of the Kuwait Bridge Club’s meeting spot at the Kuwait Graduates Society, amidst all the tables of passionate players, the vibe goes from playful and familiar to serious and concentrated.
The members of the Kuwait Bridge Club are just that talented and dedicated, however. Originating in KOC in Ahmadi during the early 1950s, Bridge is a long standing interest in Kuwait that has only expanded further from the days where ladies and gents would reconvene to sharpen their Bridge-playing skills and bond with new partners made in the multiple table, four-player game. Since then, the tradition only grew and graduated to larger venues within Kuwait City, and today, a whole new generation rules the Kuwait card scene with this elegant and intellectual game.
The 1960s marked the time where Kuwait’s Bridge Club was first registered in the World Bridge Federation by the pioneer players of that time. Since then, the Kuwait Bridge Club has proudly joined both the Arab Bridge Federation and the Asian Bridge Federation, putting the esteemed Kuwaiti team on the map, and giving them the opportunity to bring home awards from competitions they’ve participated in all over the continent.
“We’ve competed in Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, Bangkok – and we’ve won awards and come home empty handed. You can’t win everything, after all!” Laughs Numan Al-Turki, the coordinator of the Kuwait Bridge Committee. “But the one thing I believe in when it comes to Bridge, is that it’s one of the few games where the only thing to look forward to winning is self satisfaction. In Bridge, that is the only prize to go after.”
Bridge is often credited as being one of the most challenging card games to date – which is why it’s unsurprising that it’s listed in Kuwait as an official mind sport that is accredited in the Kuwait Mind Sports Association, along with Chess and Checkers – locally named Dama. “Bridge is a game that exercises your brain – which is a necessity. Just like exercising your body, your mind needs that attention as well,” says valued longtime member and dedicated Bridge player Ms. Nancy Hajjaj. “If you’ve been playing the game for thirty years and use the same tricks, then it’s useless. You have to put your mind to work the whole time.”
The game is also all about skill, logic, and good instincts. “You need to read. When I started playing Bridge, I read many books on bidding, hand play and defense. After 23 years of playing this marvelous game, I’m still reading and learning new things everyday. I knew I wanted to learn everything about the game, so I was committed.” Numan says fondly as he retells his stories that rooted his journey with the game. “Originally, I wanted to play as a teenager because I learned that my idol at the time, Omar Sharif was an avid player,” he laughs. “The game was reintroduced into my life about twenty years later, but the passion and interest were still there.” And if you have a similar dream or you just really want to learn to play, the Kuwait Bridge Club is working on starting courses for those who are interested in the Fall. You’ll have to be committed, however, and understand that the game requires lots of studying, patience and practice. As Numan puts it, “It isn’t enough to just show up every week.”
If you’re interested in playing Bridge with the club, however, and have an understanding of the game – then feel free to join! The only requirement is to actually know the basics of bidding and hand play. There are plenty of Bridge-playing communities within Kuwait, and the Bridge Club is excited to welcome them to their tables for a friendly game!
What’s next for the Bridge Club? They are hoping to participate in the World Games in Poland this September, which is basically their version of the Olympics. Other prospective competition destinations on the list include Portugal, Jordan and the UAE. Until then, the Kuwait Bridge Club can be found practicing away, perfecting their skills and playing with passion at their tables in the Kuwait Graduates Society, every Sunday and Wednesday.
The Kuwait Graduates Society is located in Bneid-Al Qar, and the Kuwait Bridge Club meets on Sundays and Wednesdays.