Bridge: Social, sociable, rubber defined

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August 29, 2014

I get queries now and then on my use of the terms social and sociable bridge. Simply put—social bridge is ACBL’s term for rubber bridge (non-duplicate bridge), and sociable bridge is my term for the ladies-only-bridge-lunch-club kind of social bridge.

These days I rarely hear someone use the term rubber bridge—it’s simply bridge or duplicate bridge.

Sociable Bridge is a term I confess to creating to identify the ladies-only-bridge-lunch-club kind of bridge as unique because of the role women played in bridge history and reflected in my bridge book’s epigraph:

“It is conceivable that [bridge] never would have been anything but the sport of an esoteric few, had its growth depended entirely on the male world. Its development, however, has been primarily in the hands of women.”—Robert & Helen Lynd, Middletown in Transition.

Reading that quotation the first time was a light bulb moment, coming as it does from two of the leading researchers ever into America’s popular culture. It changed everything, and instead of writing a bridge and brunch cookbook [my original intention] I ended up delving for years into pop culture, bridge history, women’s history, to end up with Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? An affectionate look back at sociable bridge & ladies lunch.

In the early years, researching my book, I used the term friendly bridge for the women’s bridge clubs. As I got close to publication, I discovered the ACBL was using “friendly bridge” for a while to describe a benign version of duplicate bridge, and so I changed that to sociable bridge.

I like that term much better! I like the alliteration in writing about social vs sociable bridge or sociable vs serious bridge.

Bridge with Food = Sociability

In my book I define sociable bridge on page 19 as “the kind of stress-free bridge played amongst friends, with food—ladies-only-bridge-lunch is quintessential sociable bridge.”

But you know, from what I hear and Google, both serious and social clubs are adding food to bridge game rituals as a welcoming “come-on” for bridge newcomers. There’s at least one serious duplicate club (Wisconsin I think) whose owner wrote me has featured food and eating from its founding.

Politicians have known this forever—that’s why they suffer thru eating ethnic foods and sharing food experiences—hungry or not–as they travel about New Hampshire looking for votes. The last NH primary I experienced was 2008. I managed a great close-up seat at Governor Huckabee’s appearances at a restaurant in Concord that features bison burgers. Well, of course, he had to eat one for a photo op, and did take a couple bites. There’s something about sharing food that creates good will and an ambiance and politicians know that.

Bridge with food is shrewd marketing!





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