Howard Kinns


An interview by Anne Kane in January 2018.

At the end of 2017, Howard Kinns decided to finish his many years of generous contribution as tutor of the Hurstbridge Bridge class. This class has been one of Nillumbik U3A’s longest running and thanks are due to Howard for all he has offered. In the following words, he has kindly shared his interest in bridge but also in other courses and as a member of Manningham U3A. They are a wonderful reminder of the sharing and receiving that is so much part of this great organisation. Thank you, Howard, and good wishes for your continued enjoyment in lifelong learning. Anne Kane.

My introduction to the card game bridge occurred in about 1965, when I was teaching Mathematics to diploma students at Swinburne, before it became a university. The maths staff shared a rather large common room with individual desks around the walls. At most lunchtimes, four of us played bridge, as it was then. Bridge as a formalised card game is less than 100 years old, so fifty years ago it was a pale imitation of the game today. After a while, we decided to enter a team to play competition bridge in the Melbourne Bridge Club. I can’t remember how well we performed as a team, but I can remember that there was much discussion after each evening, mainly focussed on interpretation of the rules and conventions (which were at that time still being developed).

In 1968, Isolde and I married. We had met at Swinburne where Isolde was a teacher in the girls’ school. We moved to Canberra for an appointment at the ANU, where I worked and continued my academic studies. We returned to Melbourne in 1984 and bridge became a distant memory. When I finally retired (for the second time) in 2001, Isolde realised that it would be difficult for me to cope with no ongoing interests, so she suggested that I join the Manningham U3A bridge group. I also joined the Manningham recorder group, which met once a fortnight. This interest has remained and I currently play once a week with the Deepdene recorder group led by Kathy Conlon, and coached by Barb Praetz.

In 2010, when Sabi Buehler was President, Isolde and I joined the Nillumbik U3A and the bushwalking group led by Rob Gardner. Later, Bob Stubbings and I offered to run a classical music group, which met each week at the Calvary Retirement Village in Greensborough for around a year. Then someone suggested that I start a bridge group at Hurstbridge, catering for beginners. This was the beginning of several years of enjoyable interaction with over forty people from all walks of life who decided that they would like to learn Bridge, extend their card-playing skills to bridge or simply extend their knowledge and experience of the game. Classes varied in size from a maximum of twelve to a minimum of four, the latter being during mid-winter when some class members fled north to escape Melbourne’s cold winters. In part compensation, one class member who had moved permanently north used to return to Melbourne each summer to escape the northern heat, and would re-join the Bridge class!

Through the bridge classes, I have met many interesting people, and this has enriched my life. Also, my ability with bridge has increased. As many tutors will acknowledge, you can’t talk the talk until you walk the walk. At the end of 2017, I decided to hang up the Standard American Yellow Card Bridge cheat sheet, and spend more time in other activities – in particular, recorder playing with the Deepdene recorder group and sailing small yachts in Westernport and at Sugarloaf reservoir.