Q&A with Andre Asbury

December 26, 2012 

Q&A with Andre Asbury

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Manager, the Robins Duplicate Bridge Club

QUESTION: What makes bridge so popular?

ANSWER: To me, it’s the greatest mind game in the world. I’ve been playing for about 12 years and am at expert level, but I’m still learning every day. Spades, hearts, pinochle are similar style games but you reach a point where it gets boring. You’re not learning anything new. You keep learning with bridge.

QUESTION: The Robins Duplicate Bridge Club is very active. Talk about the club.

ANSWER: It was begun in the early 1970s and we have about 81 members now. We play throughout the week at 151 Maple Street, which is sort of sponsored by the city as part of the recreation department. Long-time members Ruth and Harpe Suggs have been instrumental in the club’s growth. Ruth was club manager for years until I took over in 2004.

QUESTION: What’s the difference between bridge and duplicate bridge?

ANSWER: They’re basically the same, but duplicate bridge is the competitive version of the game. In social bridge, you play and get your score and that’s it. In duplicate you play and pass the hand on to another table and they play the same hand. Since you’re playing other tables with the same hand it takes a lot of the luck out of it and emphasizes skill.

QUESTION: Are there professionals?

ANSWER: There are, but it’s different because pro players aren’t competing for big prize money. People usually hire them to play with them.

QUESTION: Professional bridge players aren’t household names, but are there famous people who play bridge?

ANSWER: A good many. Bill Gates plays and so does Warren Buffett. Omar Sharif, the actor, is a big player and has written books on bridge. I see them quite a bit at tournaments. You wouldn’t recognize them as being multi-billionaires or famous unless you knew already. That’s one of the cool things about bridge. In most sports you could never get in the same game and play with professionals or the best players, but in bridge you get to see them and play against them.

QUESTION: Have you played someone famous?

ANSWER: I’ve played against Bill Gates?

QUESTION: Beat him?

ANSWER: I really don’t remember. The results all jumble together.

QUESTION: What got you started playing?

ANSWER: I was 13 or 14 and my dad taught me. He was active in the club in Athens, where we lived. I started reading the bridge hand in the newspaper every day and got interested. I finally got him to teach me.

QUESTION: What keeps you interested?

ANSWER: It’s just a different puzzle every time. It’s a big puzzle with little puzzles that keep you thinking how you can maximize your score. It even keeps you thinking for hours afterwards reviewing what you did and could have done. There’s the social aspect of the game, too. It’s a great way to see people. There aren’t many people here my age that play, but there are at tournaments.

QUESTION: It’s a complex game.

ANSWER: Very. It’s by far the most complex card game.

QUESTION: Teaching bridge is out of the question here, but in a word, what’s the goal? How do you win?

ANSWER: You have to win more tricks than your opponents.

QUESTION: OK, we’ll leave it at that, but it is a card game you play with a partner, right?

ANSWER: Yes. It’s played with four people, two sets of partners. That’s another one of the cool things about the game: communicating with a partner with very little means of communication. You try to convey a message about what you’re doing without using too much body language or revealing to others what’s up. You have to pull your partner along with you (while) following good bridge etiquette.

QUESTION: If someone wants to explore bridge or learn to play, how do they contact the club?

ANSWER: We have a website at www.wrbridge.blogspot.com with schedules of when we play as well as information on beginner classes and events.

QUESTION: What do you do professionally?

ANSWER: I’m an electronic engineer at Robins Air Force Base.

QUESTION: Does bridge appeal to a certain sort of individual or profession?

ANSWER: People say engineers and lawyers are the most common professions in bridge, but there are all sorts of people who play. It appeals to all sorts. I can’t think of any lawyers here in the club.

QUESTION: Who’s the best player in the club?

ANSWER: We have a lot of life masters who have accumulated a certain number of points and gone to tournaments to meet requirements. As far as who’s the best, I’m not sure I should say. I’ll just say people are surprised if I don’t win. They make fun of me when I come in somewhere in the middle.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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