27. Sociable Bridge: Do you play Goren? was the bridge question in the 50s

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For sociable bridge players, the answer back then was “Yes” except for die-hard older women who stuck to Culbertson. As Good Housekeeping magazine put it back then, right in the middle of the Canasta boom of the 40s, “that had kept bridge teachers from starving” people were asking to be taught Goren. Culbertson’s Honor Tricks were passe, replaced by Goren’s Point Count Bidding.

Like Culbertson, Goren targeted those sociable ladies-only-bridge-lunch clubs while at the same time competing in tournaments and making a name for himself as a champion bridge player. As indicated in the description of Goren playing tournament bridge in 27-1, Goren (unlike Culbertson) was just plain nice. Not nearly as colorful or controversial as Culbertson. Nevertheless he too became a household word. If you played bridge back then you “played Goren” — or thought you did.

Even I would say (until way into the 80s!) that I played Goren. Looking back I realize I hadn’t a clue what I was playing–totally inconsistent and mostly just winging it. Which is absolutely possible to do in a long-lasting sociable bridge club setting, and what drives more expert players crazy.

These more expert players (I have found, anecdotally speaking) split into two.
1. They just leave that sociable bridge club (or are making the rest of the club so edgy
about always being told how to play that they are no longer welcome there) and they
depart for the world of duplicate bridge and are never seen again.
2. They recognize (as I do) that the way you play is in your DNA, and lead two
bridge lives–one with their friends in the sociable club and give up on trying to
change them–just go with the flow–and a second as a duplicate/tournament player.

As one woman who stopped by at my book-selling table at a bridge tournement said:  “I have two bridge lives–this (tournament) is bridge; my bridge club is therapy.”



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