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Consuming Passions
Consuming Passions RTÉ One, Monday 8.30pm (Repeat)

Programme 5: The Game of Life

Wednesday, 1st August 2007

The Game of Life will meet men and women from all over Ireland who are united by their passion for bridge the 'sedate card game'. On any night in every town across the country, there is a bridge club gathering. There are over 40,000 people consumed by bridge in Ireland today, that's as many as play GAA. It has been proven through scientific research that bridge keeps the mind young.

People have an idea of what the stereotypical bridge player looks like. Hilary Dowling Long admits she doesn't look like one. A bridge teacher and National Master, she started playing bridge in university by accident. She played every day and was completely hooked. She even managed to do her final year thesis on the psychology of bridge. Hilary would like to play bridge a lot more, but life gets in the way. She says bridge is completely and totally addictive but in a good way. She gets to meet all kinds of people. She is as likely to go out with a 92 year than a 22 year old - which doesn't happen very often nowadays.

The Regent Bridge Club in Dublin is Ireland's premier bridge club, and B.J O'Brien has been a member for over 20 years. They believe they are the crème de la crème of bridge in Ireland. B.J a financial adviser has been playing bridge for more years than he can remember. When B.J asked is wife out on a date over 30 years ago he told her he would have to see when he could fit her in - in relation to his bridge calendar; she excepted and they have been together ever since. He is hooked he once played for twenty consecutive days. For BJ, "the passion to play bridge lies in the intellectual battle that takes place every time the cards are dealt. It's about winning and being competitive. When you're successful, it's enjoyable".

Within a seven miles radius of Drogheda, there are ten bridge clubs. With thirty members Dunleer is the smallest. Tom and Patricia Lawlor, a farming couple from Newgrange, used to play together. They had to stop. Bridge was somewhat disrupting their marriage. While Patricia now plays less, Tom an Area Master, continued to play. A member in four clubs, including Dunleer, he plays nearly 6 days a week. "I was dealt my first hand over 20 years ago, I can't get enough of bridge, if I could play 7 days a week, 365 days a year I would".

Tom Hanlon, a Grand Masters is totally consumed by bridge. Growing up at home there were no Game Boys or DVD's, he was tossed a pack of cards. From an early age, he was playing snap, 25's and poker. He gave up the security of his full time job 8 months ago. He wants to play more and more bridge and he is very talented at it. Tom will represent Ireland in the Bridge World Championships later this year.

We will follow Tom Lawlor and BJ O'Brien to the IBU National Pairs final in Dublin, where they together with their partners will meet across the bridge table. They will play bridge for over 24 hours over two days. BJ will be going for a historical sixth national final in one year - this has never been achieved before.

Played by property tycoons, farmers, housewives and bankers, The Game of Life will explore the characters behind these men and women who's minds are seduced by bridge.


Additional website information

The Contract Bridge Association of Ireland (CBAI)
Templeogue House, Templeogue Road, Dublin 6W
Tel: (01) 492 9666 Fax: (01) 492 9751

Shielding your hand
Shielding your hand
B.J. O' Brien and Tom Lawlor in the IBU pairs
B.J. O' Brien and Tom Lawlor in the IBU pairs