There are few better ways of having fun and getting to know the locals when you are on holiday than playing bridge. Karen & I went to Venice in March. There was lots to do, lots to see, but always time for bridge. Before we went I looked on the internet, found the Italian Bridge Federation and their list of clubs in Venice. Il Circolo di Bridge Venezia seemed the most likely. So I emailed them in my shoddy Italian to see where and when they played and if it was OK for us to play. La Signora Di Dio got back to us right away. Unfortunately the address system in Venice is beyond confusing and San Marco 4013 could be anywhere. No street names are given and the numbering seems to be totally illogical. So, after several false starts, we found the club for play on Monday evening. It was in the tiniest of back streets full of crumbling warehouses.( If you have seen the film ďDonít Look BackĒ itís the kind of street you would expect to find a red-coated knife wielding dwarf in.) But up the stairs was a beautiful suite of 4 bridge rooms, a dining room, a large bar and lounge with sofas. There were chandeliers and marble everywhere. Play started at 9pm and finished about midnight. (Take note those who complain about Manchesterís lateness.) It was a SIMS and we came 26th nationally with 60.65%. We gained some red points but I have no idea what they are. So at midnight we were sat by the Rialto bridge waiting for the late night Vaporetto (Water Bus). Magical but cold.
They asked us to play the next afternoon and then attend a dinner they were having. So we did. Bridge 4pm to 7pm with 16 tables, then they had a very shouty and argumentative meeting about the elections to the club committee. We sat in the bar drinking Prosecco and Campari and wondering if any of them would be speaking to each other by the end of the meeting. But a lovely 4 course meal and more wine followed and all argument was forgotten. However, everywhere on the tables political arguments were taking place about the way forward for Italy as there was still no government in Italy. At about 10pm we played speedball. When we left at Midnight some were settling in to play poker. Food, bridge, prosecco, politics and loud arguments: it was all so Italian.
They seemed to take the development of new players very seriously. After 2 years you have to enter a competition to see if you are worthy of becoming a proper recognised player. There bridge style was reasonably familiar, all playing a strong NT. Most playing Quinta (5 card Majors, short club), weak 2s (sotto aperture). But everyone played a multi 2Ds and their overcalling was wild. A 2D overcall against us turned out to be 8 points and a five card suit to the 10. They constantly intervened in the auction, sometimes they had some values and a good suit, but mostly not.
Everyone was really welcoming: coming over to practice their English on us or to tell us about relatives they had in England or to talk football and bridge. If you are on holiday somewhere where there is a bridge club do consider going. I am sure you wonít regret it.