Game of bridge anyone?

A game of bridge anyone?
Rosemary Boden, certified bridge director and Silver Life Master shares insights and stories on the subject of what it's like being a bridge lecturer on board a Cunard Queen.

One of the many traditions Cunard likes to maintain is the game of bridge. Bridge lessons are offered on sea days on all three Queens with expert tuition for beginners and improvers, hosted by the bridge instructor. We were lucky enough to interview certified bridge Ddrector and Silver Life Master Rosemary Boden, who explains what it’s like being a bridge lecturer on board a Cunard ship.


Rosemary has directed at the club level for several years and is an accomplished teacher and presenter. She plays with several different partners each week, and is familiar with Standard American, the Two-over-One system and the ACOL system. She usually competes at all three National ACBL tournaments and has played in both the Spingold and Vanderbilt events. Rosemary is comfortable teaching large groups and she also works with smaller, more personal groups of three or more players. Previously, Rosemary was a principal in a highly successful computer consulting company, although she began her career as a teacher.


Rosemary was born in England, educated in New Zealand, and has worked in both London and New York.  She now lives in Florida where, in addition to bridge, she enjoys logic problems, needlepoint, travel and entertaining.

  • How did you hear about becoming a bridge lecturer?

    Back in 2003 I sailed on QE2, Sydney to Hong Kong, a fabulous segment of the World Cruise. I was already teaching and directing back home in New Jersey, where I owned a small bridge club with a business partner. The bridge directors on QE2 at that time, Judy and Dee, were grateful for a little help I provided and suggested I might enjoy sailing as a bridge director myself. I followed up and started directing and teaching at sea later that year.
  • What's involved with being a bridge lecturer?

    Well, my job really begins at home. As soon as I am booked on a voyage I make a plan, setting out the bridge program for each day the ship will be at sea. I am usually asked to provide two lectures each morning, one for beginners and one for more experienced players. On a short voyage I prepare a series of lessons which can stand alone and will be of interest for any level of player using any standard bridge system. For the World Cruise, when many bridge players are on board for 100 days or more, I don’t want to bore guests by repeating material, so I come on board with more than 60 unique lesson topics, one for every sea day. I do repeat the Beginner Program but so far there have been no complaints.
  • Each lesson lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and of course there are always guests staying after the session with extra questions. I come on board with literally thousands of handouts, one handout for each group per day. I’ve learned to number the handouts as guests are always coming and asking for the ones they missed – or lost. After lunch, people arrive much earlier than the program states in order to secure their favourite table for the afternoon game. At about two hours, it is a little shorter than games on land, but at sea it works out so that guests are finished in time for Cunard’s special Afternoon Tea – those scones with jam and cream.
  • Bridge seems very complex, is it actually that difficult?

    Well, we are teaching bridge to 9 year olds in after school programs so how difficult can it be for grown-ups? The modern approach to bridge for beginners is to make it fun and easy. Guests are surprised to find that they play their first bridge hand at their very first lesson on board.
  • How often do you like to be at sea?

    If it were not for my family at home, I would be content to be at sea 52 weeks a year. As I have two gorgeous little grandsons and lots of other family members I limit my travel to about six months each year.
  • What is the most enjoyable part of your role on board?

    I enjoy the entire experience, meeting new people, visiting exotic ports, delicious meals, so it is difficult to say which is best. However, I think it is the sense of fulfilment I get when guests come up to me, and say that I, and bridge, have changed their life. That sounds over the top, but it has happened many times.
  • What is the most frequent question you get asked?

    I think the question is, “How do I get better (at bridge)?” The answer is, play, play, play and you WILL get better. Most guests who learn on board can go home and play bridge for the rest of their lives without ever learning another thing – and have a great deal of fun. Some, like me, become addicted to learning and improving and it becomes a lifelong task which we embrace. I just competed in the US National Tournament in Washington DC. Hundreds of people showed up every day to compete, attend lectures, buy books and watch the crème de la crème - the Tiger Woods of the bridge world - play on a huge vugraph with a commentary.
  • What's surprising about being a bridge lecturer?

    One does not have to be a world class bridge player to be able to teach the game well. In fact, many of the leading bridge players of the day prefer to play rather than stand and talk to novices. I remember how I felt when I was a beginner, truly ignorant and stupid, so I try to make everyone feel capable and competent.
  • Where has been your favourite destination so far?

    That’s a tough one because there have been so many amazing ports of call. Visiting the Taj Mahal in 2006 was so much more than I anticipated – the sheer size of the grounds and the gates, and the marble, and the heat and the crowds. I really love Thailand and here I am on a Cunard shore excursion in Pattaya. This year, visiting Petra, it was such a surprise even though I knew what to expect. It was the realization of a fifty-year old dream.
  • Which new places would you like to visit?

    I have been more fortunate than many, having completed four World Cruises on Cunard ships. I have seen the ports or gateways to many wonderful places, but there are many places inside those countries that I have never visited. I’d like to see the Great Wall of China while my knees can still get me up those steps. And I want to visit all the Norwegian fjords. I grew up in New Zealand and visited many of the south island’s magnificent fjords, walking to them before there were roads in some cases.
  • What advice would you give guests who are new to cruise?

    A cruise gives you the luxury of doing as little or as much as you wish. My best advice though, is to use the time to learn something new, possibly bridge, which can become a lifelong passion long after your voyage is over – new friends, new places to go, and you need never be lonely.
  • What is your favourite quote and who said it?

    “Look you, the stars shine still.” This is a quote from The Duchess of Malfi, a revenge tragedy by John Webster, which I studied as part of my degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. My interpretation of this quote is that no matter what problems we have, the stars go on shining and we can too.

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