When I came across the Buffett Cup website in early 2008, I was so entranced I included it in Bridge Table’s Chapter 51. I thought, my gosh, Mr. Buffett must be as fascinated with Culbertson and 30s bridge atmospherics as I am! Here’s some of what was said when the Cup was first announced in the newspapers:
“In the 1930s, the first great heyday of bridge, transatlantic matches between the best
players in the United States and Europe were a regular feature of the day. Matches such
as that between the American showman Ely Culbertson and Colonel “Pops” Beasley,
held in London in 1933, attracted huge crowds and was routinely featured on the front
pages of the newspapers . . . “
They then went on to contrast the Buffett Cup tournament with the Bermuda Bowl and the Olympiad. These, they said, are marathons with complex bidding systems in which teams play a series of matches.
“The Buffett Cup in contrast marks a return to the exciting head-to-head challenge match
format that so excited audiences in the 1930s. The players will use a simple bidding system in
which all bids are easily explicable to a non-expert audience. The idea is to help make
bridge once again the spectator-friendly sport that so entranced audiences when the game was
in its formative years.”
I fully expected to be watching, maybe even participating at home, by 2010! What’s happened to that “easily explicable” bidding system promised? A friend who plays tournament bridge took a look at the website for me and said: “They didn’t mean easily explicable to players like you, Maggy, they meant easily explicable to non-expert duplicate players.” Significantly, she’d never heard of the Cup tournament until I called her attention to it.
And then I came across this discouraging item in a bridge newsletter about the 2010 meet in Ireland. Three Americans were having difficulty getting past United Kingdom Security at the Cardiff airport in Wales (the closest to the tournament location). The security guard, calling for permission to clear their entry, says:
“I have three Americans with a story about a bridge match between Europe and the USA
but we’ve not heard about it. Is this true?”
Title of the article was “The Media’s Fault?” It is not clear to me if the reporter was questioning if the incident was the media’s fault for not publicizing the Buffett Bridge Cup match or questioning the premise that lack of publicity could ever be the media’s fault? The fault has to be the fault of those who manage the tournament.
2010 was the third such tournament, Buffett is world-known, the Ryder Cup with which it is deliberately paired is world-known. Should not the officials at the closest airport to the tournament KNOWN they’d be getting international visitors looking for it??
Given the combination of playing bridge and golf–by both men and women–has historically been so common at country clubs that it became almost a cliche, shouldn’t such a tournament get some publicity in the Irish press even if today’s competitive bridge players no longer play golf?
Today, those huge crowds of 1933 could gather on the internet. I envisioned PR would lead to living rooms of bridge friends gathered to watch the matches, drink in hand, food on the buffet–like football. Yet my friend–who both works on Masters Points and plays internet bridge knew nothing of the Buffett Cup’s third tournament!