There was plenty of chatter among the room of 52 people Friday, but as soon as everyone's cards were in-hand, it went dead quiet.
Bridge is big at the Summit County Community and Senior Center, drawing about 100 people for the games during the summer, and about the same for recent beginner and intermediate lessons. And it's not just the locals - players flock from around the state, from Buena Vista, Vail, Steamboat and Denver. The Summit County scene can get competitive, but it's friendly, players say, something that helps attract those big crowds for the games held two to three times a week.
"It's a great way to meet other people," said local Tammy McCammon, who has been playing for the 17 years she's lived here. "We have found it's the No. 1 social way to meet people in this county."
Bridge is a card game played in groups of four, split up into partnerships. It is complicated, probably equal to chess, McCammon said.
McCammon, who admits she's a pretty good player, said the game is a good exercise for the mind, and helps stave off dementia and Alzheimer's.
"It keeps you thinking, it's just edgy enough to be fun," according to summer resident John Darling.
Darling, who says he's a "newbie" compared to some of the other attendees Friday, said the game can get pretty competitive. His wife is sweet as can be, and is always understanding if he gets home later than expected, or forgets to take out the trash.
"But if I mess up playing bridge, it's 'bridgezilla,'" he laughed.
Darling even wrote a musical parody of the game, performed last month at the Silverthorne Pavilion. "Bottom Board Blues" consists of seven multi-talented performers who humorously attack various aspects of bridge through original songs and skits.
The games at the senior center are sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League, so they are a little competitive, but they're still really friendly, attendee Donna Ozark said, who has been playing in Summit for seven years. For her, it's the people that make it nice.
"For us, it's the social part," player Becky Price said. She's been playing for 15 years. "It's just fun to be with other people."
The senior center is also cheaper than other spots around the state, and the director, Steve McCammon, volunteers his time, unlike other sites. Some funds go to the league, and the rest go to the senior center.
"It's a challenge," player Jerry Eggleston said. "You have to communicate with your partner, and then play the cards."
Eggleston, who has been playing since 1963, claims he's "overrated" as a player, and likes the senior center games because of the people.
"It's a great group," he said. "I enjoy it."