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Patty Tucker Named Goodwill Member of the Year

If years of playing duplicate bridge is sure to give you a few ‘tricks’ up your sleeve, then Patty Tucker of Atlanta has her arm’s full. A bridge player for over 45 years, Tucker has been crucial to the game’s efforts in expanding its grasp to a younger generation. This is likely because she so vividly remembers her very first triumph in a game at the age of 12.

“I was playing [my card] and realized that my opponent was going to have to throw away one of the winners in their hand and allow me to make my contract,” explains Tucker. “I was so excited because I thought I had invented the ‘squeeze’.”

While she may not have invented the squeeze play, over the years she has made her own mark on the most popular card game in the world.

Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, Tucker was part of a game playing family, where she learned from a very young age about friendly competition and testing her skills. When a local bridge player began a series of beginner lessons, Tucker, along with her sister and cousin all took lessons.

Nearly seven years later when she began college, it was bridge that helped her assimilate to a city where she knew no one.

“Bridge was an outlet that allowed me to socialize, make new friends and learn the area,” Tucker explained. “Even though most people were older than me and weren’t going to be my buds, they were able to tell me where to go for dinner, what dry cleaner to use, and where the good shops were.”

The game of bridge consists of a deck of cards and two pairs of players. Finding the right partner can help improve your skill and success in tournament play, and some players consider a good pairing the strongest asset at the table. It only took Patty Tucker 20 years in the game to find her partner of choice, Kevin Collins. Together they have over 50 Regional championships, several national top-10 finishes, and have twice won their district’s Open Pairs competition.

As Tucker noted, bridge affords many with the opportunity for social interaction.

“Through bridge I have met people from all over the world and from every socio-economic strata of our society,” she explains. “I have made good friends with people I have known for 40 years, but I only see them three or four times a year. Many bridge players met their present bosses, spouses, or company investors through bridge.”

Tucker is no exception to the social aspect of the game and in 2006 she married her longtime partner, Kevin Collins. In spite of all her accomplishments at the table with Collins, it is the teaching aspect of the game that has given her so much recognition within the bridge community.

In 2006, Tucker along with several other top players from Atlanta, founded Atlanta Junior Bridge to expose the younger generation to a game they can carry with them into their golden years.

“For a young person, bridge allows them a social setting to hone their skills in talking and relating to adults, which will serve them well throughout their academic and early job-hunting years,” explains Tucker.

Bridge offers young players more than the opportunity to socialize with all generations; it also benefits them on the academic front.

“Children learn to develop logical approaches to problems, to face adversity through bad breaks or scores, and to overcome it. They work with a partner towards a common goal and learn to adjust their behavior to fit into a framework of acceptable and non-acceptable behavior,” Tucker said.

Tucker’s lifetime of achievements helped make her American Contract Bridge League’s (ACBL) 2011 Goodwill Member of the Year, an honor awarded for unselfish dedication to the causes of good conduct, worthy participation and ethical behavior.