Duplicate Bridge Brings Fun and Challenge to the Table

When Sue Piepho moved into Kendal at Lexington after years in the academic community of Sweet Briar College, she felt right at home. “Kendal felt like me,” said the former chemistry professor and master gardener who couldn’t wait to get her hands in the ground when her cottage was ready in the fall of 2019.

Everything She Wants

KaLex had everything Sue wanted – beautiful views, countless activities, stimulating learning opportunities, and plenty of like-minded residents. “This is a highly educated and interesting community,” said Sue, a Smith College graduate with a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Virginia.

….But it didn’t have a duplicate bridge group.

Building the Bridge

So, in the Kalex way of residents starting their own programs and interest groups, Sue launched a duplicate bridge group. She had already been playing in a highly challenging club in the city of Lexington and knew Kalex residents who played duplicate bridge, some of whom are top local competitors.

“It’s the right kind of challenge,” said Sue of the game that, in broad terms, ultimately depends more on skill than random card deals.

What began with two tables of eight players has now doubled in size. As leader of the group that squares off every Friday afternoon, Sue ensures that there is an even number of pairs, drawing some players from the larger community. As the group got larger, scoring became more complex. But Sue found a duplicate bridge scoring app for her iPhone. “Finding the app was another victory,” she quipped.

Sue and 3 others playing Bridge

Always Learning

While the KaLex club is a more social, less competitive bunch than the city group, duplicate bridge is far from a mindless game. “You’re always learning,” said Sue, “and there’s a lot of calculation. Good players have to have good instincts.”

Still, the group has plenty of fun, playing for “pride” instead of money, prizes or master points. Even people well into their 90s continue to play bridge, including Sue’s mother, who played bridge the night before her death at the age of 99.

Pickleball, Anyone?

For some, starting and managing a weekly bridge group would be initiative enough. But Sue has also begun an interest group for one of the fastest growing sports in America: pickleball, which residents play off-campus. “I’m pretty busy,” she understated, noting the strength training class she just finished and the Pilates class she’s off to next.

Even the pandemic didn’t slow her down. The front porch of her cottage became a favorite place for Sue to spend time chatting with neighbors as they passed by on the sidewalk, and she continued to play bridge online. “I played more golf than I ever have in my life!” she added.

Dinner Companions

Sue relishes the many connections she’s made with active, engaged residents at Kalex, particularly after the passing of her husband, a former English professor at Sweet Briar.

“As a widow, it’s nice to go to dinner, join any table, and be pretty assured you’re going to have an interesting conversation.”