That was a question I received from John Smithman, a Canadian businessman with very positive views on the virtues of playing sociable bridge (rather than serious competitive bridge), and closing with Keep up your worthy mission to re-elevate ‘social’ Bridge to a position of distinction, but please include us men!”
The people at the ACBL responsible for marketing strategy need to read this blog.
There have been many articles on the symbiotic relationship between billionaires (like Buffett, Gates, others) and Wall Street gurus with playing competitive duplicate bridge. Now here’s Mr. Smithman who wrote me about what playing social bridge had done for his successful career.
I’m repeating Smithman’s views here (a long blog) because while I agree with everything he says, and have even said some of them myself, many readers–and the ACBL–will find them more convincing coming from a man, and a businessman, than from an old lady like me.
On the role of the ACBL. “We should leave Duplicate Bridge in the wings; that style of Bridge is divisive, not unifying. ACBL be damned! Formalizing Bridge events is what led to its shrinking fan base, IMO, it took the fun out of bridge.”
Mr. Smithman is more radical than I when it comes to the ACBL. There are days when I agree–the future of bridge might be better without the ACBL –but I’m realistic. The ACBL is not going anywhere no matter how much I wish for a more enlightened organization with a vision that goes beyond the narrow, minority world of duplicate/tournament bridge.
On the solution to growing bridge: “People are yearning for social connections. Hence, the success of Facebook and Linkedin. Social Bridge would bring the new generation what they long for: making social connections. Let’s start a new Underground Bridge, with the sole intention of encouraging social networking!!! If we make Bridge illicit, it will elicit a generation of new fans.”
Love that illicit/elicit play on words!
On social bridge and his business career. “Playing Bridge once a week with my male colleagues has proved very beneficial as a networking opportunity where great deals are made over the Bridge table!”
Ditto the networking at women-only social bridge.
On life lessons learned learned from his Moms Saturday night bridge parties.
“. . . Although I didn’t know it at the time, I learned the most important lesson of my career at my mom’s bridge parties. In 1953, when I was 11, I played bridge. My mom and dad . . . taught me to play so that I could sit in (to make a foursome) if someone didn’t show up . . . . the lesson I learned from my mom when I was a young teenager was to become the secret of my success in business.
“Mom would have regular Bridge Parties on Saturdays for 4 tables . . . . On Fridays . . . mom would go to the five-and-dime store in downtown Montreal and buy up a bunch of small gifts (trinkets, like a comb, a mirror, a small appointment book, key chains and so on). She would wrap each gift and put a ribbon on it. Then, after the Saturday evening event was done, Mom would serve snacks and beverages to her guests while Dad tallied up the scores and determined the evening’s winners.
“Then, she would give out the gifts to her guests: one for the overall winner; second and third place winners would get a gift; there was a “booby prize” for the player with the lowest score; a prize for the player with the greatest story or joke of the evening; a prize for the best dressed guest; and so on. I think you get the picture. Mom had a prize for each of her guests. She would find a reason to “recognize” everyone. . . At the time, I had no idea of the power of this lesson.
“Later in my career when I became a business manager, I ‘naturally’ looked for reasons to reward each and every worker around me. As a result, people liked to work for me . . . . I had great business successes because of what my mom had taught me about finding and recognizing the strengths in others. Much later when I started my manager-training company Champions in the Workplace I taught supervisors, managers and company leaders how to recognize the strengths in their employees and how to focus on their positives, not the negatives. . . . ”
Far different than the skills and joys proclaimed in articles I’ve read about Wall Street tycoons extolling the value of playing competitive bridge. But, I say to ACBL’s marketing department, tycoons playing duplicate bridge is an esoteric target market compared to the populist possibilities of business owners networking with colleagues over weekly social bridge games. Now we’re talking cutting in on poker players!
So, why have I not commented more on men who play social bridge? Way back, I made an editorial decision to center my bridge book around the ladies-only-bridge-lunch because almost the only paper trail there is for ladies bridge clubs is in old cookbooks and women’s magazines. I’m not sure there is any paper trail at all for men’s bridge clubs! I’m too old to find out.