Jack Timmons began playing bridge when he was 20 and working as a radar mechanic for the Air Force in Germany during the Korean War. It all started when a group of three friends was looking for a fourth person to play.
“I was pretty good with cards of any kind and liked the game,” Timmons said. “Some weeks we played as much as 70 to 80 hours a week, which was virtually all our spare time.”
He learned a lot at a young age and after playing for several months, decided to compete for money at a German bridge club in Frankfurt.
“We won a little bit and thought we were pretty good,” Timmons said.
Good enough to enter an international bridge tournament in Frankfort and make it through the first and second days of competition.
After serving four years in the Air Force, Timmons returned to the United States. He played occasionally for about 20 years until he retired from being a professor at the University of Missouri in 1998 at 67. Now he plays two times a week at the Senior Center.
After the American Contract Bridge League expressed interest in sponsoring the card game, it was added this year to the Missouri State Senior Games. Play begins today at 1 p.m. at the Senior Center and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday.
“I thought it was funny when I heard that they were adding bridge as an event in the Senior Games, but I was interested in playing.” Timmons said. “It’s not a contact sport, but it’s good for the thinking process and keeps our thoughts alive and clicking.”
Thirty-six will play today, and 24 will play Saturday.
“We are pleased with the turnout for the first time it is being offered,” said Jeanie Pearson, commissioner of the event who runs evening bridge games at the Senior Center. “It has been a learning experience, and we feel we will have even more players next year.”
The Senior Games run Thursday through Sunday with a variety of events ranging from archery to horseshoes and even washers. There are also traditional events such as volleyball, cycling and swimming. A high number of participants is expected at this year’s games because it is a qualifying year.
“A qualifying year means that the participants have the opportunity to go on to compete in the National Senior Games,” said Jennifer Coffman, a spokeswoman for the games.