For almost a decade, Los Altos resident Donald Cohn has come to Unit 503 to play bridge. That’s the unofficial name of the Palo Alto Bridge Center, now based in Mountain View, which draws bridge players ranging in age from 10 to nearly 100.
“It gives you an opportunity to use your mind, it’s competitive and I’m pretty good at it,” the 75-year-old Cohn said. “When you’re retired, you look for things to do, and it’s very rewarding to me.”
Cohn is among the 1,000 members of Unit 503, formed in 1957. Every weekday and most weekends, up to 100 bridge players meet at 432A Stierlin Road in Mountain View. Typically starting at 11:30 a.m., members first have lunch before playing up to four hours of the popular card game. It costs $12 for adults and $6 for those under 25 years old to join for the day.
Longtime member Jan Samuels visits the center several times a week. The Los Altos resident has played bridge throughout the world, including in the Netherlands and Geneva, and appreciates how it is “a truly universal game,” she said.
“Of all the card games in the world, bridge is certainly one of the most challenging, interesting, and yet one that all ages can play and enjoy, and you can be a beginner,” Samuels added. “There are just so many levels of learning.”
Although many members are retired, some children play as well – such as 10-year-old Kayden Ge. He’s been coming to the center to play bridge for three years and said he really enjoys it.
Bridge has evolved over time, according to Cohn, who said he had to relearn many of the rules and playing styles when he began playing regularly again 10 years ago.
But through all of the change, the center has remained a community space for people to play the game. The first two locations were in Palo Alto – hence the name – but the center moved to its current Mountain Voew location in March 2012.
Along with daily games of bridge, members offer lessons for all skill levels, special events several times a month and a youth program.
Although it is recommended to have a membership in the American Contract Bridge League, it is not required; most games are open to the public.
“For $12, about the price of a movie, you can go play bridge for four hours and get a free lunch,” Cohn said. “It’s not an expensive outing – it’s fun and you make friends there.”
To join and for more information, call 940-1824 or visit paloaltobridge.org.