Bridge instructor Kathie Walsh’s teaching tip won first place in the national Apple Basket Awards. PHOTO BY SHAE DALRYMPLE

Kathie Walsh has been an avid bridge player since the 1960s and she has being sharing her knowledge since 2003.

“My husband and I used to play with friends because we couldn’t afford much else. And I just loved it,” she recalled. “When you first start, you’re so addicted to the game.”

The local bridge teacher recently was recognized for her expertise during the American Bridge Teachers’ Association convention in Toronto, Canada, where she won first place in the Apple Basket Awards for “best teaching tip.”

“One of the things we like best as teachers is sharing tips and seeing what other teachers have done,” Walsh said. “I’ve won second place a few times over the years, but this is my first win.”

The winning tip she submitted this year involved playing with the bid boxes at the start of lessons.

Walsh won Teacher of the Year at the 2011 convention, honored for excellence in inspiring students, promoting the game, and providing instruction and fun in a social and competitive environment.

Her students had plenty of praise for her skills at the Hilton Head Bridge Club, located in Port Royal Plaza.

“She’s the best,” said Lissa Hobbs, who has been helping Walsh with classes for the past four years. “I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as she does.”

“It’s like if you skipped out on all of your college classes but went to the summary and still passed,” Bo Peterson said. “That’s the best accolade you can give a teacher, I think. I started late, but it didn’t matter.”

Over the years Walsh has cultivated many friendships with her students. A group of 16 club members journeyed to Italy with her in 2008, staying in villas, enjoying tours and playing bridge, of course.

“What a wonderful teacher she is! She made a big difference in my game,” said Judy Snediker. “I really mean it. She showed me a whole new way of thinking about bridge.”

There are about 100 members on the Hilton Head Bridge Club during the on season, according to Walsh.

“This is a wonderful, active club, every day,” she said.

For more information or to get in on bridge games and lessons, contact the club at 843-342-7529.

Shae Dalrymple is the assistant editor of the Bluffton Sun.