Matt Raj Mal
Central Coast Leagues Club Bridge Club, NSW
Born and raised in Suva, Fiji I started playing card games quite early in life. Constant wet weather in Suva prevented us from outdoor activities so learning to play Trumps was one alternative.
Trumps (we called it TROOP) I discovered is played in the same format as Bridge with thirteen cards and trumps nominated by the dealer. There were a lot frustrations as we had no means to find out from partners what they held so various signals were invented. We also realised that the opposition was always aware of what we were doing but it was all in fun and nobody really minded what we were doing.
Later in life we played whist with the Diplomatic Core in Suva. They were few and needed numbers. I was happy to join in and many pleasant evenings were spent at the local bowling club, the venue.
At about that time I started taking notice of the Bridge column in the local newspaper and spent many hours analysing hands that were printed. Having the Whist and the earlier Trump experience I worked out several alternative deals and wondered why they were not bid. I was aware of the local Bridge Club but was too shy to join.
It was not until I moved to Australia over 30 years ago that I took a second and serious look at Bridge. The local club was on the first floor of my workplace I got to know some players on their way upstairs. They always stopped for a chat. I was invited to sit in on one or two occasions to see what they were doing which I readily accepted. From there on I began learning to play Bridge.
I enrolled for 8 session course and was delighted to discover that apart from some minor variations the sport was very much what I had done in the past. That was over 30 years ago.
Later on doing my exam I directed Bridge sessions at my club for some time. I also realised that I needed to do more as my passion had built up and numbers were on the decline. What to do and where to go?
One day I read about a teaching session being held at a nearby club and decided to catch a train to find out a bit more. On arrival at the venue I was warmly welcomed by Joan Butts who was to become my teacher and mentor. The STEAM philosophy took a grip on me quite strongly and I knew that I was on the right track. That was just over three years ago.
The local 50+Leisure & Learning Centre were kind enough to give me the opportunity to start teaching. Because of the response I taught non-stop for over a year. I am still at it and having a great time teaching the great mental sport of Duplicate Bridge.
My dream is to one day gain enough support to travel and teach as many people as I can to keep Duplicate Bridge alive in the small Island nations.