Do's and Don'ts of Competitive Bridge and Bridge Whores



The big convention of the American Contract Bridge League, which has its headquarters in nearby Horn Lake, Mississippi, is in town this week. Thousands of players, supposedly including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, are at the tables over at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

My friend Bob Levey is also there. Bob is a former columnist for the Washington Post and a former journalism instructor at the University of Memphis. He is also a very good bridge player and has been after me to write something about bridge, which I will now do, and in return I expect him to write something about the Memphis City Council, which will make sitting through a bridge marathon seem easy.
I play bridge but not the kind they play in this tournament, which is called duplicate. Same players play same hands, so the cards don't matter. In party bridge, on the other hand, it's all about the run of the cards, the compatibility of the couples, and the host's supply of snacks and liquid refreshments.

Here are some helpful do's and don'ts of tournament bridge.

If you run into Bill Gates, don't say "Hey Bill, can I borrow your iPad?"

If you run into Warren Buffett, do say in a loud voice "Man, I can't believe the Dow just fell 1000 points in the last five minutes" and see how he reacts.

Don't wear sunglasses and a baseball cap and talk about "the flop" or "the river" or going "all in."

Do, however, ask people if they will, for the right sum of money, be your partner for a few hours or even fly to your home town and meet you at a hotel to play games. In bridge, this is known as "consulting" although it is ok to refer to it as being a "bridge whore" in the right crowd.

Don't say "Oopsie, these clubs look so darn much like spades that I mixed them all together. Is that all right?"

Don't fist bump your partner after making a contract. A chest bump is much better.

Do wear team t-shirts while at play and at play. Don't, however, make up insulting chants about the other teams' parentage, ethnicity, or IQs.

Don't burst out laughing if someone at your table says that big pyramid across the street is empty but is soon going to be a giant Bass Pro Shops.

Don't say "director" unless you mean it.

Do try to execute finesses, coups, end plays, and squeeze plays.

Don't mistake the barbecue served outside the meeting rooms for the real thing.

Do revel with self-satisfaction in the intellectual superiority of this form of March Madness, but don't miss the Sweet Sixteen pre-game show.

Do come back.

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