Take It To The Bridge
Alex James on the many pleasure of the king of card games
Aren't casinos rotten? I mean, great to visit with good company, but there,
where isn't? Woolies is potentially a scream. Take Caesar's Palace. You think
you're going to feel like James Bond and then you end up being surrounded by
ghastly lizards and tough nuts in a neon lit Ancient Greece. Fuckin' losers. It
is absolutely certain, that is absolutely certain, that the more you
play, the more you will lose. It must be the playing that people are willing to
pay for and it's a pity because there are far better games than blackjack.
Blackjack is a arsehole's game for people who drive cars with personalised
Although the origins of most are obscure, all card games tend to fall into two
categories - those where you have to win tricks (whist, black maria, belote) and
those where you try to make runs and groups of the same value (gin, rummy,
canasta, poker). People really started playing cards after gas lighting was
invented and before telly. Various games enjoyed enormous popularity at
different times, and the national British card game is in fact cribbage, which
seems to work well in December.
The ace of all card games, though, is bridge. It was invented in 1925 by Harold
Vanderbilt while he was on a cruise. It is played by two opposing teams of two
players using all 52 cards of a standard deck and is a whist-type game. It is
the most sophisticated, subtle and posh game in the world. I have the same
compulsion to play bridge today as I did to play football when I was twelve. I
could happily go on all day and think of nothing else. The formality of the
game, slightly annoying to begin with, soon becomes a source of comfort, a
place, even. The strictly observed etiquette is all for the purpose of
conviviality and making the game flow smoothly. You have a lot of common ground
with other people who play. You can look your partner in the eye and tell them
the truth in a secret language on an island of calm and it's you against them
and nothing else matters.
Cards are a delicate but profound pleasure. Going to a bridge evening is like
attending the AA , in that you get a total cross section of all kinds of dudes.
The amount of laser thinking that has been applied to the game is stupefying.
Foyles is jammed. A good bridge book would be a guide to bridge books.
It takes about as long to learn the rules of bridge as it does to learn the
rules of chess and I'm not going to explain them here,but for how to play and
for willing partners try msn/bridge or yahoo/games/bridge. Pretty soon you'll
start saying things like this: "The club bi was artificial, asking for partners
major. North's jump shift to four spades was conventional. Stayman showing
opening control and Blackwood's five diamonds confirmed they had slam
potential," or: "Making seven no trumps redoubled is better than a nosh in the
There really is no better pension plan for our dotage.