Bridge club celebrates 50th anniversary

Some of the long-standing committee members of the Cape Town Wednesday Bridge Club are, from left, Zoe Charnock, Shirley Phillips, Michelle Alexander, Shirley Karon, Greta Levenberg and Joyce Hessen.

The Cape Town Wednesday Bridge Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Founded in January 1968, with 75 women only, it was at the Hotel de Waal in the Gardens that the very first game was played.

Greta Levenberg, who has been a member since the club’s inception, said they have had wonderful moments and characters in the club.

Between 1968 and now, the club has had a number of homes and now meets at the Western Cape Bridge Centre, Main Road, Green Point. “We only came to the current venue in 2002 and in 2010 we changed from a ladies-only club to incorporate men,” said Ms Levenberg.

The club takes part in a women’s congress hosted by the South African Women’s Bridge Association (SAWBA) once a year when women from all over the country meet and compete against each other.

“Every fourth year the congress comes to Cape Town. We’ve had great success in it and it’s a lovely time because sometimes it’s nice to get away from the men and meet people from other provinces,” said another member, Michelle Alexander.

The club now has over 100 members and they are on a mission to draw in younger members by teaching the game to the pupils in nearby schools.

The club used to run campaigns where they encouraged up-and-coming bridge champions to join them and learn the skills to master the game and they are planning to run it again in September this year.

The game is recognised by the South African Sports Council and is known as one of great mind sport games.

“One lesson that we’ve learnt is that you can never know all about bridge; there’s always something new to learn and if someone feels like they know it all, they should stop playing,” said Shirley Phillips.

The members said they get tourists from abroad every year who visit the club when they are in South Africa.

“Bridge is life insurance for old age, one doesn’t have to talk because its language is universal and we want to encourage people to join the club and understand the game,” said Zoe Charnock.

The committee members admitted that the number of members is dwindling and members are ageing. In 2011, the committee members started a friendship club where they pay for pensioners who cannot afford to play.

The initiative is greatly supported by the members.

The club is now planning to do classes for beginners and teach younger children who are interested as their way of giving back to the community.

The members said that sometimes people get lonely in life and coming to play bridge helps them find friends and companions.

“A lot of people have lost their spouses and some their children, and coming to the club every Wednesday just puts one’s mind at ease. Wonderful friendships have been formed, most of us are retired and the bridge gives you a reason to get up every morning and look forward to something every week,” said Ms Phillips.

The members meet every Wednesday between 9am and 1pm. They play games and enjoy tea.

If you’re interested in joining the club, contact Shirley Phillips on or 072 673 4248.