51. Bridge: After thoughts on Chapter 51 of my book

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the title of which was “Serious Bridge is Doing Well”–about my perceptions based on what I found in various media of where serious bridge was when I wrote Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway? in 2009.

I concluded then that things were “changing for the better in the world of the ACBL and bridge Establishment . . . There are new ideas, new plans, dissent from within, and interesting–even shocking–views from London’s bridge establishment.”

ACBL & AARP. Then, I thought there was great potential in an alliance between the two to grow bridge amongst the boomer generation.  The AARP was sponsoring bridge events/tournaments at its annual conventions.

Now, it’s not clear to me if they continue to sponsor bridge tournaments at their annual conventions. The Good News is members of AARP can now play bridge for free at their website http://games.aarp.org/games/bridge.aspx. The Bad News people at http://www.techsupportalert.com don’t think much of the AARP bridge-playing website and say:

“Alas, it [the AARP] opted instead [of providing a great place to play bridge for free] for selling ad space on the site as its first priority. If you’re an AARP member, please complain.”

ACBL & Warren Buffett. Then, I termed Warren Buffett “the patron saint” of bridge and the ACBL. Now, he still is (along with Bill Gates) something of a patron saint financially. Good News–While neither participates anymore in bridge games with school students, they continue to financially support the ACBL’s programs to reach youth and students. Warren Buffett still sponsors the Buffett Bridge Cup Tournament played biennially in sync with the Ryder Golf Tournament.  Bad NewsPromotion efforts for the Buffett Cup appear no more successful than in the past despite that the 2012 tournament was held in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha–an ideal PR opportunity to reach both bridge and bridge-playing golfers with its Ryder Cup tie-in.

Pamela Granovetter’s Proposal. Then, I quoted Granovetter’s proposal out of her 1996 book Movie Guide: “I suggest we change direction . . . develop bridge as an entertaining, rather than a cerebral sport . . . by simplifying the bidding so that auctions would make sense to a wide audience.”  Now, looking back, that was proably unfair to quote her from over a decade earlier. Would she still agree with that 1996 viewpoint? I’ve written to ask her and will amend this blog if and if I get a response.

Backwash Squeeze. Then, for me the book was a revelation. That book  lead to re-writing Chapter 51 because of what I learned about London’s bridge scene–Andrew Robson, Zia Mahmoud and the Portland Club. Now, I know McPherson has moved back to the midwest and has written about bridge in articles–sounds like serious social bridge, not tournament bridge. I will always blog about anything McPherson writes in the future on bridge.

Andrew Robson. Then, Robson’s London bridge club was a dream place to me–where I’d go if I won the lottery!–led to sending him Chapters 51 and 52 of my book for pre-publication comment–which he graciously gave.  Now, even if I won the lottery, I probably wouldn’t get there–I’m too old. But bridge-playing readers who DO get to London, please! Go play at the Robson Club if it’s possible to participate one time without a membership and let me know what it’s like.

Zia Mahmoud. Then, I quoted him saying someone needs to do for bridge what Kerry Packer did for cricket in Britain. Also quoted his revolutionary suggestion to create tournaments that appeal to a wide audience, by allowing no conventions at all!  [If a player can’t function without conventions, he’d have to pay in the points for the privilege.] Now, I’m still waiting for a surge from within the ACBL to create a populist bridge tournament to rouse interest in the game. For someone to do for bridge what Kerry Packer did for cricket–how about you Mr. Mahmoud?

Portland Club. Then, I wrote about revelation (for me) in Backwash Squeeze that this most historic and prestigious bridge club in the world bars all conventions and has done so since the 20s when contract bridge was created. I believe Mahmoud is a member of the Portland Club and it therefore makes his suggestion for a convention-free tournament (above) not so revolutionary after all.  Now, hasn’t changed far as I know, as befits this tradition-steeped club.

I keep hoping a member will write an article about what that’s like to play bridge without conventions. Probably, however, that article will never happen–what goes on inside the club stays in the club is no doubt one of the rules for membership.

If I hear of progress in any of the areas listed above, I’ll blog about it in new series The Bridge Table, starting on my 94th birthday in 2014

 

One Response to 51. Bridge: After thoughts on Chapter 51 of my book

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you are ending this blog series. I’ve enjoyed your perspective and have tried to keep the social bridge player in mind in my community bridge efforts. Wishing you the best!

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