The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats: A Newcomer's Journey into the World of Bridge

Paperback
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Author: Edward McPherson

ISBN-10: 0061127655

ISBN-13: 9780061127656

Category: Bridge players -> Biography

At one time the game was even bigger than baseball. Today bridge is played by more than twenty-five million people in the United States alone, with Bill Gates, a sitting Supreme Court justice, and the guys from Radiohead among its devotees. In this spirited homage, Edward McPherson recounts the colorful history of the game and his attempts to master its mysteries in time to compete at the North American Bridge Championships—despite being barely able to shuffle cards, let alone play...

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At one time the game was even bigger than baseball. Today bridge is played by more than twenty-five million people in the United States alone, with Bill Gates, a sitting Supreme Court justice, and the guys from Radiohead among its devotees. In this spirited homage, Edward McPherson recounts the colorful history of the game and his attempts to master its mysteries in time to compete at the North American Bridge Championships—despite being barely able to shuffle cards, let alone play competitively. Insightful, funny, and steeped in respect, The Backwash Squeeze is an affectionate view of a grand game by an outsider trying to make his way into the inner circle. Publishers Weekly McPherson is an amusing writer who believes that "bridge is a battle between fate and chance mediated by skill." In this lighthearted book, he relates bridge's history and tours its contemporary universe. Originally derived from the British game of whist, the modern version of contract bridge was developed in 1925 by railroad heir Harold Stirling Vanderbilt. McPherson provides snapshots of men such as Ely Culbertson and Charles H. Goren, whose writings and activities spurred a bridge craze in the '30s and '40s. Traveling to Kansas City, Gatlinburg, Tenn., Las Vegas and London, among other locations, McPherson attended tournaments and visited clubs, interviewing famous players and collecting fascinating anecdotes. During classes at the Manhattan Bridge Club, the author became friends with 83-year-old Tina and persuaded her to accompany him to Chicago where the two played as partners in an annual tournament. The author says the bridge-playing population is aging, a process exacerbated by the current preference for poker among younger card players. Although McPherson provides a brief introduction to the rules, those who have played bridge will derive the most enjoyment from this breezy, absorbing account. (July 3)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Acknowledgments     ixThe Introduction I Am Not Qualified to Write: A Brief Bridge Tutorial     xiA Clean, Well-Caffeinated Place     1The Miseducation of a Bridge Player     23Kibitzing in Cowtown     47A Short History of Bridge: From Hoyle to Halloween     59Gamblers and Grannies     64A Short History of Bridge: From Ballyhoo to Mr. Bridge     96A Manhattan Interlude     106The Kids Are Alright in Gatlinburg     109Social Studies     145Fear and Loafing in Las Vegas     163London Bridge Isn't Falling Down, But It Might Come Second to Fishing, Part I     200London Bridge Isn't Falling Down, But It Might Come Second to Fishing, Part II     217East Side Story     241The Battles of Gettysburg     251Oh, the Sunny Saturdays I Have Missed     273Wild Times in the Windy City, or My Travels with Tina     281Notes     321Bibliography     341