11-4. Nonagenarian Notions: A bridge tip from a nonagenarian author

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Identifying blogs published by nonagenarians, that is. I’ve not been successful so far. Recently, however, Google Alert came up with a winner– http://tinabishopauthor.com, “Writing for Fun And Health.” Well worth a visit from anyone who’s always wanted to write, never have and thinks they’re too old to start. Tina wrote her first novel at 90 and at 93 has just published her third!

Not only that, the website includes a short story, The Taxi Ride, that validates a belief I’ve held since first learning to play bridge back in the 50s and had never ever seen in print before. That the way you arrange the cards in your hand can be a dead giveaway to crafty serious players.

The story is set in New York City. Heroine Maggie plays high stakes bridge with three other older women she doesn’t like all that much and that game precipitates events that involve a rude New ork taxi driver taxi driver who gets his come-uppance when he takes Maggie to court for refusing to pay her fare.

Maggie is an ex-bridge teacher, by far the most expert of the four, and wins often. At the end of this particular evening (having won yet again) she decides to “educate” them:

“Well, I’ll let you in on a professional secret. You may have noticed that I never sort my cards.
The top players at my bridge club taught me that. Those players are so crafty about watching
the players’ hands as they draw out their cards, that in a matter of minutes,  they can dope out
the holdings of each player. Once you’ve learned that trick it’s as good as having X-ray eyes.”

Just what our friend Paul told me fifty years ago! He was one-half of the couple who, along with my husband Bill, insisted I learn to play bridge to provide a fourth because we couldn’t afford to get a babysitter and go out all that much. Paul had been shot down over the Netherlands in WWII as an 18-year old, ended up in prison camp where they played bridge 24-hours a day–wore out decks of cards. There he learned to pick up his cards in one fell swoop and bid and play without any sorting into suits or high to low, otherwise opponents could “read” your hand.

I could never quite do as Paul did. On the other hand, from the beginning I’ve never arranged my hand as most casual players do–highest rank (spades) at the left, red/black with diamonds at right. Nor do I arrange cards within a suit from Ace down to 2. But here’s the funny thing–I doubt the people I play with ever think to watch where I pull cards from, nor do I watch where they pull a card. Maybe I’ll try that!

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