Seoul to host regional bridge championshipBridge is no ordinary card game. The amount of mental energy put into concentrating on the game is the same as in physical activities such as running, so it is often referred to as a “brain sport.”
“Every card has a meaning and every move requires profound concentration,” said Sung Kyung-hye, a bridge aficionado and lecturer. “Bridge requires one to expend one’s mental energy. One’s heartbeat also quickens. After two hours of the game, you become completely exhausted.”
So why do bridge fans play the game all day? “Seventy percent of the time, it’s all about skill. That’s why you can never get tired of bridge,” Ms. Sung explained.
In June, the 43rd Pacific Asia Bridge Federation (PABF) Championships will be held in Seoul for the first time, in which hundreds of bridge professionals from 13 countries in the region will compete for slots at the World Bridge Federation Championships to be held in Portugal this fall. The organizers of the competition held a fund-raising tournament on Thursday at the Seoul Club attended by about 50 people, including South Korea’s premier baduk (Go) champ Cho Hoon-hyun, and the Indian Ambassador to Korea, P.S. Ray.
“We need sponsors for this historic event since we have only raised a third of the budget needed to host it,” Han Hong-sub, chairman of the organizing committee, told members before the tournament.
Four persons were seated at each of the 11 square tables that evening, and as the game started, they all appeared pensive but not grim. With wine glasses placed next to them, the bridge players became so immersed in the game that they failed to notice when people moved around the tables. The majority of the participants were women, with some foreigners and a few young people.
Rosemary Reed, an Australian native, said the beauty of playing bridge is that each game is always different from the previous one. Her husband added, “When you sit down to play bridge, you have to forget about everything that happened at work and just concentrate on the game. So in a way, this is very relaxing.”
“Chess and bridge are highly intelligent games,” Mr. Cho said. “But bridge is perceived in our country as similar to go-stop, a form of gambling, and that’s why it has not become prevalent in our country compared to the West.”
The PABF Championships in June will consist of pairs in four categories: open, ladies, senior and junior pairs, the latter consisting of persons under 25 years of age. Ahn Jae-yong, 25, a college student, was drawn to bridge after he attempted the game on the Internet “by accident.” Now he is a die-hard fan and will head the youth team in the regional tournament.
Currently, more than 400 members are registered with the Korea Contract Bridge League, the national bridge association, but only 50 to 60 are “regular members,” said Ms. Sung, who was the director of Thursday’s tournament.
Bridge is played at the Lutheran Church in Hannam-dong every week at 10 a.m., at the Seoul Club on Thursday at 7 p.m., and team games are held in Chungdam-dong Bridge Hall on Saturdays.
by Choi Jie-ho