Bridge Some no­table quo­ta­tions, and good­bye from the road

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Jared John­son

Here are a few no­table quotables on the pros and cons of bridge. The first three are from sev­eral decades ago by Fleur Tamon of The Hous­ton Post, a writer who must have had a re­ally bad day at the bridge ta­ble:

“There is a de­li­cious but painful form of masochism that has never been recorded in books about ab­nor­mal psy­chol­ogy. It is known as du­pli­cate bridge. It is eu­phemisti­cally called a ‘game,’ but it is about as play­ful as sky­div­ing or shoot­ing the Colorado rapids in a leaky ca­noe. This is a com­pe­ti­tion where the nor­mal el­e­ments of gen­eros­ity, gra­cious man­ners and gen­teel sports­man­ship are all laid aside. All that counts is how you score.

“One of the pop­u­lar gath­er­ing places for this rit­ual blood­bath is the (lo­cal bridge stu­dio). The open daily mem­ber­ship games draw an av­er­age of 80-100 peo­ple. The play­ers’ ages range from 19-90, and to­gether they com­prise a ver­i­ta­ble hu­man zoo of two-legged loonies.

“Want to learn bridge or take on the pros? Or does de­flat­ing your ego, suf­fer­ing hu­mil­i­a­tion and mak­ing your­self out as one of the more brain­less liv­ing things let loose on this Earth sound like a good time? All is pos­si­ble (at the bridge ta­ble).”

Now let’s look at a less cyn­i­cal view from one of the game’s clas­sic writ­ers, Vic­tor Mollo, a quote that so beau­ti­fully en­ca­pu­lates the scope and grandeur of the game: “But then bridge is much more than a game. An in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise and at the same time an out­let for the emo­tions, it mir­rors life it­self, al­low­ing ev­ery player on ev­ery deal to ex­press his per­son­al­ity, to be vic­tor and van­quished, plot­ter and plan­ner, by turns, with­out ever know­ing as he picks up his cards which role he will be called upon to play or how his ad­ven­tures will end.”

Still, one should keep in mind, es­pe­cially given one of the Tamon quotes, that Mollo first made his rep­u­ta­tion in 1965 with “Bridge in the Menagerie,” fea­tur­ing a wide va­ri­ety of an­i­mals in­tended to rep­re­sent all the foibles, idio­syn­cra­sies and an­noy­ing traits of re­al­life bridge play­ers.

More Mollo: Thanks to a newly dis­cov­ered long lost man­u­script, a brand new Dr. Seuss book, “What Pet Should We Get?,” came out last year, 25 years af­ter his pre­vi­ous book. Dr. Seuss died in 1991 at the age of 87.

Now, the bridge ver­sion. Like Dr. Seuss, Mollo dealt with strange crea­tures, but his pop­u­lated the bridge world, in­clud­ing the Hideous Hog, the Rue­ful Rab­bit, and Char­lie the Chimp. Mollo died in 1987 at 78.

There have been sev­eral post­hu­mous vol­umes with “Last Call in the Menagerie” (Mas­ter Point Press, Toronto) the fi­nal in­stall­ment. Tech­ni­cally, the sto­ries aren’t pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished since they orig­i­nally ap­peared in var­i­ous bridge mag­a­zines around the world. Col­lected for the first time in book form and thus brand new to most bridge play­ers, “Last Call” con­tin­ues the ad­ven­tures of Mollo’s quirky, cranky and quar­rel­some cast of char­ac­ters in the set­ting of clever bridge hands. And speak­ing of last calls. ... End of an Era: This is the last Sun­day Den­ver Post bridge col­umn. I’d like to thank The Den­ver Post for the op­por­tu­nity to write for al­most 40 years on the world’s great­est card game.

And I thank all the long­stand­ing and val­ued friend­ships in the bridge world over the years. It’s been a great plea­sure.

I’ve been on ex­tended hia­tus from ac­tual play, which will con­tinue be­cause of travel. There are still so many gritty Third World coun­tries I haven’t been to yet. At least I made it to fun places like Syria, Al­ge­ria, Nige­ria, Mali and Ye­men be­fore they got even dicier.

See you at the ta­ble (even if only as a kib­itzer.)

SU­DOKU AN­SWER JUM­BLE AN­SWER COWARD IM­PEDE HAM­PER ABRUPT CAM­PUS

AD­VICE When her grand­fa­ther gave them each a valu­able paint­ing, it was — MUCH AP­PRE­CI­ATED

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