As everyone knows, the present pandemic forced many groups (queer or otherwise) to stop meeting in person. Instead, group members gather in front of their computers or other devices to attend virtual meetings or events.
One of those groups is Quick Tricks Duplicate Bridge Club, a “friendly gay” group of bridge enthusiasts. According to Dan Rosenblatt, publicity chair for the Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club, “prior to the pandemic we played Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. Once the pandemic hit, everything changed. We shut down and the leaders of the clubs in Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Pompano Beach, and Quick Tricks temporarily combined the clubs. While Quick Tricks does not currently exist as a separate club, members of each of the four clubs can play in these virtual games. We play online and there are multiple games each day.”
According to Jim Miller, the club president, Quick Tricks Duplicate Bridge Club was founded by Jack DeCrescente and the late Bruce Upson as a social gathering for gay and lesbian friends. It started at the Pride Center and then moved around before it settled down (pre-pandemic) with FLBC at their clubhouse in Holiday Park. During this time, it grew from a club with a handful of tables to one which hosted more than 50 tables at one seating. QTDBC is the largest LGBT club sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League and the only one in Florida. But it is not the first club of its kind. In San Francisco, the late Tadd Waggoner founded Quick Tricks in 1978 to provide games for the city's LGBT community. There are also clubs in Las Vegas (Sin City Gay Bridge), West London, and other places. Like Quick Tricks, these groups offer games and classes open to all.
Rosenblatt describes Quick Tricks as a “friendly gay club because we don't exclude players who are not gay [many working people play in the club because we play at night and on Saturday], but a fairly good majority of the members are gay.”
Prior to the Pandemic, Quick Tricks members played Tuesdays and Thursdays games that were limited to players with 1,750 masterpoints or fewer. On Saturday afternoon they played games that were limited to players with 2,000 masterpoints or fewer. The cost per game is $6 per player though some special games may cost more. There is a mentor game on Wednesday when newer players (non-life masters) play with a life master (mentor). The club also offers opportunities to learn or to improve one's bridge skills.
Like other specialized interests, duplicate bridge attracts a small but devoted following. Many of them get together for tournaments, regional events, or sea cruises. LGBT bridge players are as devoted to their game as anyone else. Those who currently limit their games to a small group of friends might consider Quick Tricks.
Beginner classes begin in March which might make it a good time for those of us who do not know a thing about bridge to get our feet wet. Each year Quick Tricks donates several thousand dollars to local charities, including a thousand bucks to help feed hungry children.
For more information visit Quick Tricks Bridge Club at www.bridgewebs.com/quicktricks or Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club at www.ftlbc.com. This article owes much to my friend Dan Rosenblatt, a lifelong bridge enthusiast.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and journalist. He has been an active member of South Florida's LGBT community for more than four decades and has served in various community organizations.