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November 14, 2007

The Dixie Chicks of bridge

(Click to enlarge.)

I was actually a two-letter man in high school. Math team and bridge team.

If that sounds incredibly dorky, you don't know the half of it. I was on the "B" team in bridge. One of the highlights of my high school career was beating the "A" team in our only match against each other. One of the lowlights was narrowly losing the final round, the veritable World Series of Bridge, to the feared X High School.

But it wasn't too long after high school that I became disillusioned with bridge. Some of it was just dealing with the morons who played in tournaments. At my name-brand college, where all the children were way above average, bridge tournaments took approximately forever, because all the Philosopher Kings (no pun intended) had to ponder the geopolitical and philosophical implications of every single card played. I, on the other hand, had played tournaments in high school under the watchful eye of a director known for her motto "Play fast and make mistakes." I couldn't stand how slow things were.

Another part of the reason I became disillusioned with bridge was the cheating. Bridge has a long history of cheating -- even at the international level. Back in 1965, Reese and Schapiro caused an international furor over accusations of cheating. Later on, the international tournaments were set up with numerous devices to prevent cheating. Reflected well on the players, didn't it?

Most of all, I didn't like the way partners treated each other. We'd see long-time married couples yelling at each other for failing to reach the right contract, or for supposedly misplaying the hand. One older woman denounced her husband, because he "bid like a fish." Another earned the nickname "Mrs. Results."

In fact, when I became engaged to Mrs. Attila, I made her promise she would never learn how to play bridge. That's a true story, by the way.

So when I read about the yahoo who held up a sign reading "We didn't vote for Bush" at an international bridge tournament, I can't say it surprised me. She was probably signaling the number of spades she was holding.