44. Bridge: In the 90s–of Retro, business tycoons, the Regency Whist Club

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By the 90s, pop culturists were referring to that decade as the “Retro 90s”–despite Schoenbrun’s 80s warnings against nostalgia for the past. The Retro 90s were yearning for the pop culture of both the 50s and 60s. If you think of the phenomenal popularity of the TV series Mad Men Retro yearnings  never ended.

Playing bridge, Time magazine declared in the 90s, is what business tycoons were doing for “kicks” when they weren’t making money. Warren Buffett and Malcolm Forbes were “celebrities” amongst tycoons. And the Regency Whist Club was–still is–home base for their bridge playing when in New York. 

When it comes to bridge, Retro–nostalgia for its past–is one of the strongest PR themes ACBL’s marketers have if they would but use it.

From the “invention” of contract bridge by Harold Vanderbilt 20s, unto today, there’s always been an affinity between business tycoons (corporate types) and contract bridge. I summed up that affinity in Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? comparing contract bridge  to the auction bridge game it replaced.

“The new scoring rules added risk . . . made the game attractive to gamblers . . . more action, more suspense. This was the capitalistic era, 1925, just a few years before the stock market crash in 1929. The new scoring laws added capitalistic-style risks for slams, penalties for the timid under-bidder, harsher penalties for the rash over-bidder.”

Googling the Regency Whist Club, I found the text of its Purpose and Objective when incorporated in 1964. [The Club had existed, however, as the Regency Club since 1936–occasion for that incorporation in 1964 was its merger with the Whist Club founded in 1894.]

That text is both interesting and provocative–the emphasis with bold is mine.

Its first listed purpose and objective is unexpectedly and surprisingly, “promote social and literary contacts between men and women.” Bridge comes in second!

“. . . promote the practice and development of the game of contract bridge and promulgate, or join in the promulgation of laws applicable to contract bridge.

Two reactions:

One–if promoting social and literary contacts between men and women (i.e., sounds like promoting romance to me) is the first purpose/objective of one of the most exclusive contract bridge clubs in the world–home to Buffett, Gates and other business tycoons–why can’t the ACBL decree ALL ACBL clubs incorporate that text in their documents? Would sure help with marketing strategy. 

Two–what IS role of the Regency when it comes to promulgating contract bridge laws–does the ACBL coordinate with the Regency when promulgating contract bridge laws?

If so, I’m asking Mr. Buffett to use his influence toward making all ACBL clubs as hospitable to promoting social contacts between men and women as his Regency Club does. And make managing masters points secondary.

Just a suggestion. 

Note: Please also read #44 under Ladies Bridge Lunch for a vignette of social life at the Regency. 

Meanwhile, read a vignette about the social aspect of play bridge at the Regency in #44 under Sociable Bridge.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge