On the Cards
16 Feb 2003
My long-suffering bridge partners
My long-suffering bridge partners
One of the reasons why the Youngs have remained happily married for so long is that my wife and I do not play bridge. Neither with each other nor against each other; nor indeed in a non-connubial relationship with anyone else. We do not discuss the bridge problems in the Times. I am not sure there is even a pack of playing cards in the house – apart from an unopened double pack of House of Commons cards from the Parliamentary giftshop, kept as a spare present for any visiting dignitary.
We are assisted in our abstinence by the fact that I have not played for forty years and my wife has never played. I played bridge and poker at University, and my wife married me in the belief that I had given up both, along with backgammon, cricket, sports cars, pipes and undergraduate debating societies. (Yes, I know I am a member of the House of Commons)
As a result, invitations from friends to play are politely declined. Along with croquet, it is a game which we have seen destroy many a marriage.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was asked to help raise funds for a local charity by playing bridge. I refused; I was asked again and so I thought about it. There were careful negotiations with the wife, who was suspicious that I might be reverting to type; men of my age often buy sports cars to recapture their youth. Clearance was given and secondary negotiations began with prospective partners. There are those who take bridge seriously, and those who take bridge very seriously. I would not be an appropriate partner for either. If prominent Conservatives were present when I performed, there was a risk of deselection. If we were going to play for money, the overdraft limit might need to be raised.
The negotiations were concluded, and a tolerant, forgiving and discrete trio were handpicked to share an evening looking at me over a green baize table. And so it came to pass.
Pass indeed was what I spent most of the evening doing; partly because the cards I was dealt appeared to have few pictures and partly because I was not anxious to play the hand. When I did bid, there was movement in the eyebrows of my partner as he/she worked out what I might have meant. (The conventions have changed over the past forty years.) And the movement became more agitated as I played my hand. But there were no tantrums, no public rebukes, no post-mortems. We started as friends and remained friends.
I am now looking for a local poker school.
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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015