• John Jantak

Resident brings hope to stuck-at-home seniors through online bridge


Vaudreuil-Dorion resident Selahattin Dagdeviren is being honoured by a Duplicate Bridge organization in Hudson/Saint- Lazare as an exemplary leader for organizing online bridge games for seniors and others who have to self-isolate because of new lock-down measures imposed by the provincial government due to the Coronavirus.

Selahattin Dagdeviren of Vaudreuil-Dorion has been chosen by a nominating committee for a seniors’ Duplicate Bridge organization in Hudson/Saint-Lazare as an exemplary leader in these challenging times living with Coronavirus.

Since the first lock-down that was imposed upon the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region by the provincial government in mid-March, Dagdeviren took the initiative to organize online bridge games which have now grown to include over 100 people in the community. Its reach has actually expanded nationally with one player from Toronto and internationally with another player from Turkey.

Important lifeline

For Cristina Radulescu, who is one of the members of the nominating committee, the online bridge tournaments have become an important lifeline for the people who participate because many are ill and isolated in their homes. Others live alone with no family nearby.

Their isolation is exacerbated because churches, community centres, film societies and theatre groups are unable to host social gatherings, said Radulescu. The bridge organization considers Dagdeviren’s leadership in creating a new safe outlet by providing a focus for its members through online bridge as a lifeline for the many seniors who participate. Dagdeviren is a member of three regional bridge clubs and gave tutorials before the Coronavirus began to take hold in late-winter. “When the virus started, my wife said, ‘If you cannot go to the clubs why don’t you play with your buddies online?’.”

Online platform

The online platform is called Bridge Base Online (BBO) – an incredibly sophisticated platform that was created by a Canadian, Fred Gitelman, who used to be a personal bridge coach for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, said Dagdeviren.

One problem Dagdeviren had to overcome was getting people to get online at first because many didn’t know much about computers or the internet. On the last day before the local virus lock-down was imposed in mid-March, he told people at one of the bridge clubs about the online platform. Three people signed up.

102 current members

“With me, that made four which is number of people you need to play bridge. Now I have 102 members playing bridge with me. I had to teach almost everybody how to use the computer and internet. That was hard, but we did it! The people love it. They cannot express their happiness enough,” said Dagdeviren.

All members are part the Coffee Cookie Bridge Club (CCBC) as it’s known online, a name that was also suggested by Dagdeviren’s wife, Arsev Eren, who supports her husband’s initiative. “It’s part of the partnership that we have with each other,” he said.

More queries expected

With the COVID-19 lock-down extended another 28 days in the region, Radulescu expects to receive queries from more people regarding the CCBC. She’s also excited about people having a safe way to engage in their favourite past time.

“We can’t stop talking about Mr. Dagdeviren. The bridge community is pretty big and everybody is excited and so happy about what he’s done. We practically cannot continue to live in a normal way without bridge online. He did something that’s helping so many people. I’m 62, but there are people in the 70s and 80s who have come to depend on our bridge games,” said Radulescu.

“His effort extends to enabling seniors with tech help as well as tutoring in bridge. He follows up by phone with individuals and everything is done in English and in French,” Radulescu added. “His leadership in providing a focus for members of this community has been a lifeline for many of us.”

For more info, contact Seladag@icloud.com