At an age when many youngsters start mastering the subtleties of Go Fish, Doug Simson was learning how to play bridge from his parents.

At an age when many youngsters start mastering the subtleties of Go Fish, Doug Simson was learning how to play bridge from his parents.

"They were home players," he said. "I was about 9 years old when they taught me the game sitting at our kitchen table."

Simson, 65, a lifelong Bexley resident and CEO of First City Bank, a community bank in the Grandview area, will play the game a long way from home when he competes in the 42nd World Bridge Team Championships in Chennai, India. The event is slated Sept. 26 through Oct. 10.

Simson is captain of the U.S. team that will play in the senior division. The U.S. also will send a team to play in the all-ages division.

The six-member senior team, which Simson put together, won the U.S. championship in Chicago last summer.

"It was a thrill," he said. "I've won five U.S. championships and the World Pan-Am title, but I've never qualified for the world championships."

The squad includes three pairs of players who play together throughout the tournament. Two of the players are from Oregon, two are from Indiana and Simson's partner, Jeff Aker, lives in New York City.

Aker has been Simson's bridge partner for five years.

Simson had played 25 years with Columbus resident Walter Johnson until his death.

"It was extremely hard to find a new partner. It was trial and error," he said. "I tried several people" until he clicked with Aker.

"It's hard to explain why a partnership works. It's just chemistry, like a marriage," Simson said. "There's a right person for everyone."

Like a good marriage, one of the keys to a successful bridge partnership is the ability to communicate with each other, he said.

"You're always trying to improve the way you communicate with each other and support one another," Simson said. "It's like doubles tennis. There's a team and individual aspect to it."

At the world championships, Simson's team will compete with 23 teams from around the globe.

The initial rounds are round robin, with two pairs from a team competing against two pairs from another team at the same time in different rooms. Eight teams will make it to the quarterfinals and the start of head-to-head competition leading to the championship.

"You're playing for two weeks, eight or 10 hours a day. At the U.S. championship, it was eight days," Simson said. "It's really grueling. Stamina is an important part of the competition."

A team's third pair of partners rotate in and out of play throughout the day to give players the chance to rest, he said.

"Playing bridge is like going down a ski slope," Simson said. "You're not thinking about anything else. You're not worried about the stock market or thinking about your kids.

"You're just thinking about trying to stay alive through the next turn," he said.

By the end of a day's competition, "you're done," Simson said. "You have a nice dinner, then you go to bed. But then, it's hard to sleep, because the hands you've played are rolling around in your brain."

Still, competitive bridge "is unbelievably fun," he said.

"Bridge is a game you cannot master," Simson said. "It's so intricate; no matter how hard you study, there's always room to improve."

He said he will leave Monday, Sept. 21, for India with optimism about his team.

"I like our chances. We're a talented team and we've been preparing really hard," Simson said. "You can't predict that you're going to win, but I'd be disappointed if we don't make it to the round of eight."

Each game of the World Bridge Team Championships can be watched online.

"You'll be able to see every hand that's played," Simson said.