The Canton McKinley Bridge Unit 2013 recently found a new home for its club on Fulton Drive NW where folks can learn to play.

JACKSON TWP.  For Jeannette Jenson, playing duplicate bridge is a high. It’s competitive. It’s stimulating — and it’s fun.

She started playing in 2009 when she joined the Canton Bridge Club and has become addicted to the card game ever since. 

“Once that bridge bug bites you it’s fatal and addicting,” said Jenson, a resident of Jackson Township. 

The Canton McKinley Bridge Unit 2013, a part of the American Contract Bridge League, recently found a new home for its club at 5468 Fulton Drive NW. The new building has more space for the club, allowing them to offer bridge lessons to beginners or for players who wish to further their skills. 

The Canton Bridge Center will offer lessons beginning 12:30 p.m. Friday. The lessons will teach new players the rules of bridge, and social bridge players can also join to learn how to play duplicate bridge.

Duplicate bridge is the most widely used variation of contact bridge. The 52 cards are split into four hands, and each hand is played by every table and scoring is based on performance. The winner is the member who can play the hand the best. 

“It’s a little bit different than most games because there’s bidding systems you have to learn,” said Jill Otte, president of the bridge unit. “But if you can play cards, you can play bridge.”

Bridge lessons will run for 10 consecutive weeks at the Canton Bridge Center with lessons every Friday. A nominal charge of $5 will be collected at each lesson to cover the cost of the lesson and a bridge book. 

The club played its first game in the new building July 21, after Jenson purchased the building for the club. Previously, the building was used as a restaurant — most recently Phil’s Bistro and Nicky’s Dubl Tyme. 

“I bought this place because I love bridge, and I wanted us to grow,” Jenson said. “Where we were, we had no opportunity to grow so I invested the money into this place. Hopefully we’ll be the biggest bridge center in Ohio —that’s my dream.”

More space 

Long-time bridge players John Tscholl, of Canton, and Jim Oversasher, of East Canton, have been duplicate bridge partners since 1993. They are considered Sapphire Life Masters, meaning they have scored 3,500 masterpoints, during competitions. 

Oversasher said the Canton Bridge Club has had numerous homes over his time as a member. They’ve played in cafeterias in nursing homes, at the Canton Jewish Community Federation and Community Center and at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. 

The club most recently was housed in a 950-square-foot suite in Whipple Commons before moving into the new building. Otte said the old building accommodated a maximum of eight tables while the new space can comfortably fit 25. 

“It was a great place, but it just wasn’t big enough,” Otte said. “It didn’t allow us to expand. We moved in (the new building) and really expanded. This has kind of been the perfect place. We’ve had a lot of interest so far.” 

Before the space was available to provide lessons, member Sue Becker, of Jackson Township, taught lessons in the basement of her home where she set up two tables. 

Jenson takes lessons from Becker to further her bridge skills. 

Becker began holding lessons five years ago after she learned there was a shortage of bridge teachers in the area. Becker has been playing for 40 years, and continues to learn. 

“It’s a challenging game,” she said. “You’re always learning. It’s a competition to see who plays the hand the best.” 

Becker uses a series of three books, which take eight to 10 weeks to cover. Jenson, however, took two weeks worth of lessons before she began playing. Though she made a lot of mistakes, she said it helped her learn the game better. 

“We’re looking forward to a lot of new members coming in and taking advantage of our lessons,” Becker said. 

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