Simple Goren bridge & learning to drive at 55

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Simple Goren bridge & learning to drive at 55

August 8, 2015

Simple Goren is Paul Mitchell’s learning system for people who used to play Goren years ago and want to start playing again.  A while back, I blogged about Paul and playing bridge—both serious and sociable–in Charlotte NC. This past week, while vacationing in Florida with his family, Paul visited me and at his request I put together a foursome for an afternoon of bridge.

We played three rubbers so that each of us played with all three partners, and when the afternoon ended Paul had the high score with a slam doubled, redoubled, made. Paul’s partnerships played Simple Goren; the second partnership their normal game. Great fun.

The whole experience recalled for me learning to drive at 55 at a Manhattan driving school, quitting and then being taught by friends.

I was intrigued with the driving school’s TV ads showing older women, like me, learning to drive and signed up for five lessons. First day at the wheel, instructions began with adjusting the seat to my height, adjusting the rear and side view mirrors, sitting properly, hands on the wheel correctly (10 and 2 position), pressure used for gas and brake pedals, etc. And then we took off, me driving, instructor with controls in the left seat, south on Madison Avenue 2 blocks to 34th Street, across mid-town Manhattan to the West side, then north to 42d Street across to Madison and back down to 36th street, with corrective instruction all along the way as to my techniques.

After 3 lessons, I quit–too tense! I felt immobilized by all the instructions, like the centipede who can’t creep when he thinks about all those legs.

When friends in the small suburban town I lived in found what I’d been up to, they said, “For God’s sake Maggy, we can teach you to drive!”

And they did. No driving controls. No instructions on my posture and all that stuff. Just got in, they fixed the mirrors and in a quiet part of town on that first day I did 24 right turns, and then 24 left turns around the same block. Totally unprofessional instruction BUT the thing is, I was relaxed in perfecting one small thing, and—over time–learned to drive, one small step at a time added as the one before became routine.

Simple Goren is something like that.

Forget the etiquette of bridge, the traditions of shuffling, scoring, etc. etc., forget five-card majors, and short clubs and all that jazz. Deal the cards, and hand the potential player a single cheat sheet for counting points, opening best four-card suit with 12-14 points, alphabetical suit ranks, first response points and wing it from then on. Four clubs is reserved for hands with slam potential, seeking aces. Mitchell has cheat sheets also for those who know some Goren, or play some American Standard–so typical of social playing.

The idea is to get STARTED playing, having fun, moving forward one small step at a time depending upon the motivation and persistence of the players.

Is it possible newcomers to bridge are put off by being taught to learn correctly from the outset the several aspects of bridge, thereby avoiding bad bridge habits that must be un-learned? Fine if you plan to play duplicate bridge—not necessary for social players. Better to get them up and playing and having fun than freezing up—like that centipede—and dropping out.

Sorry, this is a bit longer than my self-set 500 word limit to a blog.



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