By Chris Bavender
In 1980, a group of like-minded bridge players in Fishers formed a group to play bridge twice a month. Forty-two years later, the Fishers Marathon Bridge League is still going strong, with one of the original players, Pam Houck, still playing.
“When we started in 1980, the group was all housewives (and) homemakers and played during the day while the children were at school. Each team played the nine other teams twice during the season,” said Pat Richey, a league member. “Then the children grew up and the women got jobs, and after 20 years we switched to playing at night after work, playing each other’s team just once during the season.”
Then the women retired and found they were even busier than when they were working, so they switched back to playing during the day once a month. The season runs from September through May. Each year, there are 20 women in the league, and, during the past 41 years, 80 women and one man have played. Keeping track of how long each has been in the league isn’t easy.
“Of the current 20 people, this is my 39th consecutive year,” Richey said. “Two women have been in for 34 years consecutively, one woman for 23 years but she drops in and out of the group. One woman has been in for 22 consecutive years, and one for 19 years, then dropped out a couple of years and is back this year. Same with the woman who was in for 18 years, dropped out and is back this year.
“One woman (has played) 14 years, two women for 11 years, one woman for 10 years, two women for six years, three for two years and the husband-and-wife team are in their second year.”
Of the 81 people who have played through the years, at least 18 have died, Richey said.
“I play in other bridge groups where the average age could be 80,” Richey said. “Younger people are not playing bridge. It is not easy finding bridge players, which is why we have a man this year for the first time, and why some of the players do not live in Fishers. Four live in Noblesville, two in Carmel and two in Indianapolis.
“Of those eight, three moved from Fishers to those areas.”
Each team keeps track of the scores of the nine games during the season, and at the end of the season scores are totaled to determine winners. Every team gets a prize from first place to 10th place. Prizes are presented at an annual awards luncheon.
As to what keeps the league going strong, Richey said it’s simple.
“People who play bridge love to play bridge,” she said. “Now that I am retired, I play in four bridge groups. Many others play in multiple bridge groups.”