SEASIDE - About 800 "addicts" gathered in Seaside to get their fix from a dealer.

The Oregon Regional Bridge Tournament, which ran at the Seaside Convention Center last week, drew about 800 players.

"It has all the strategy of chess, but it's very social," said Peg Slocum, president of Bridge District 20, which includes Oregon, Hawaii and parts of Washington, Nevada and California. "It's addicting, it really is. You don't want to take it up too early."

Director John Ashton played his first Seaside tournament in 1972. "I love the game and I love the people. I grew up in a card-playing family," he said.

Ashton said when he moved to the West Coast from Indiana, the local bridge club helped him find friends. "People who play are in general above average intelligence and lead exciting lives and have stories to tell," he said.

Bridge is played by two pairs. Players first bid to set the suit for trumps then try to win the stated number of tricks. The tournament included speakers on bridge advice topics and games for pairs, teams, seniors and intermediate novices, local bridge club chairwoman Susan Kroning said.

"Everybody loves Seaside," Kroning said. "We're having so much fun. They look so quiet and serious."

Marti Ronemus was offering bridge tips. Also teaching was Audrey Grant.

"She's probably the best-known bridge teacher in the world," Kroning said.

The main room in the convention center had row after row of tables, each with four people concentrating hard.

"You meet such neat people and you exercise your brain," Joanne Murdock, secretary/treasurer for District 20 agreed. "I've never known one bridge player who developed Alzheimer's. It's even been written up in medical journals."

The tournament is held every two years in Seaside but will be annually after 2006.

Kroning oversees five clubs:

• The Astoria Duplicate Bridge Club meets 12:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Senior Center at 1111 Exchange St.

• The Seaside Duplicate Bridge Club meets 12:30 p.m. Fridays at the Episcopal Church Hall at 501 N. Holladay.

• The 299er Bridge Pals Club meets 9:45 p.m. Saturdays, also at the Episcopal Church in Seaside.

• The Lower Columbia Duplicate Bridge Club meets 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the Bob Chisholm Community Center at 1225 Avenue A in Seaside.

• The Peninsula Duplicate Bridge Club meets 12 p.m. Mondays at the Ilwaco Heritage Museum at 115 S.E. Lake St. in Ilwaco, Wash.

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