The 35th New Zealand National Bridge Congress was hosted last week with thrilling competitions and triumphant winners, and Rotorua's Liz Wilcox was one of these winners.
The event, which brings together the best bridge players from across New Zealand and
beyond for a week-long competition, was online this year for the first time in its 35-year history. About 550 players took part.
And the results included sister and brother pairing - Liz Wilcox in Rotorua and Michael Wilcox in Wellington - winning the Open Restricted Pairs.
Liz Wilcox says she has been playing bridge solidly since 2010, but was playing on and off for years before then.
She says it was lovely to win with her brother, as this was their last chance to compete in that category and was their second win in that division.
It's fun to compete with her brother and is a great way for them to catch up, she says.
"And because we are brother and sister, I can possibly say more to him about a certain hand he's played than I could with a normal bridge partner.
Liz says there can be ups and downs through the game, but it's very enjoyable and keeps your mind active.
"I enjoy it for the challenge and also the people you meet. We've got such a wide range of people at the Bridge Club."
Rotorua Bridge Club players also came 3rd in the junior pairs at Congress, she says.
Liz says sessions at the Rotorua Bridge Club are only $4 and include a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.
Rotorua's Heini Lux also played in the 35th New Zealand National Bridge Congress last week - he has competed in all 35.
He says he moved to New Zealand from Austria with his wife and children in 1980, and has been playing bridge since.
"I love playing cards but I'm not a gambler. I prefer a game where you need the skill and judgment.
"There's a social side to it. You go from table to table and get to know a lot of people.
"Because I've been to every Congress, I know people nationwide and in Australia who are players too."
He says competing online was different, but it was better than not competing at all.
Anna Kalma from NZ Bridge says the event went well.
Players competed for more than $22,000 in prize money across the 10 events.
"For the first time, we hosted Congress online using an English bridge playing platform called Realbridge.
"We chose this platform because all the competitors can see and hear each other, which mimics sitting in the room, and as well as the more social aspects of being able to chat and converse, it minimises the possibility of dubious tactics such as unauthorised communication with your partner."
More than 100 Australians participated, including a few from Perth, so they needed to adjust to a 6am start each day to match the 11am start time, Anna says.
A team from South America had to play late at night, finishing around 2am local time.
"It is always preferable to be playing live at the table, but Realbridge is the next best thing and it was great to hold an event celebrating the best players in Australasia but also
catering for the up-and-coming, newer players who competed as well."
Bridge is a trick-taking game and shares similarities with whist and 500. It is
played by all ages.
Bridge combines strategy, logic, intuition, and fun. It is about more than just the game; it brings together people from all ages and social groups, and research studies have shown that Bridge also benefits personal wellbeing and brain health.
NZ Bridge Inc is the governing organisation that oversees bridge in New Zealand and is one of 104 countries affiliated to the World Bridge Federation.
New Zealand Bridge has about 14,000 registered players who belong to 110
affiliated clubs from Kerikeri in Northland to Invercargill in the south.
Find contact details for your local club at www.playbridge.co.nz/contact-us