MEMORY BOOST: Gerald Schaaf has the answer to Alzheimer's in his hand.
MEMORY BOOST: Gerald Schaaf has the answer to Alzheimer's in his hand. Alan Lander

Ace the ageing disease

DO YOU want to live longer? Or at least stave off Alzheimer's Disease?

Simple: take up bridge.

Bridge players are much less likely to go down with the dreaded dementia disease, according to long-time Noosa Bridge Club player Gerald Schaaf.

"Research has been done through Bridge for Brains,” Mr Schaaf said.

"It's a proven fact.”

It's not surprising, given the need for a sharp memory in what is the ultimate card game; as all cards are used and played, there are no jokers or "wild” cards, and unlike in casinos, counting the key cards is an absolute necessity.

"You have to see the game through the long term,” Mr Schaaf said of the game's intellectual health benefits.

"A friend of mine was still playing a great game on her hundredth birthday; while she died age 107, she was still playing well at 106,” the 42-year long player said.

Last Sunday, the intensity was strong as members toughed out a competitive round of the Grand National Open Teams event.

"Noosa Bridge Club has 385 members,” Mr Schaaf whispered. Well, all bridge games are played in very quiet, focused style.

"It's the largest, with the Sunshine Coast club at Buderim the second, while there are affiliate clubs in Caloundra, Coolum and Gympie.

There's also a trophy award between the clubs, started four years ago.

"Coolum has it this year; we had it last.”

He admitted the game's average member was aged around 70 but encouraged younger people to take it up - in the interests of good long-term health.

And a hand or two of 500 becomes a cake-walk after learning the game of kings.

If you're not keen on competition-level playing, social bridge takes place every second Sunday.

Noosa Bridge Club is based in Wallace Dr in the Wallace Park precinct Noosaville, on 5447 1341.