Cave stared at his food. "Look," I said, "let's talk this over."
Back in the room Cave explained that normally he could shuffle as well as the next player, but under the least bit of pressure he folded. "My hands start trembling, and the cards fly all over the place. I just can't help it. It goes back years."
"Well, one night my wife and I entered a little duplicate tournament in the YMCA in Baltimore. We were scared to death and she was riffling the deck before the first hand and one card got away and went straight up in the air and came down in a cup of coffee."
"Now, compose yourself, Ray," I said.
"And our opponents looked at us as though we had just committed some unpardonable social error. And ever since then I haven't been able to shuffle."
To help calm him down, I confessed that I did not know how to keep score. He smacked his forehead with his hand and suggested that there were only two avenues open to us: we could sit up all night practicing shuffling and scoring or we could kill ourselves. So there we sat, the two bridge demons, Cave mixing the cards over and over, me studying a Goren scoring napkin. Once Ray said, "Another thing tomorrow. Play fast and you won't look like an amateur."
"That makes me play worse," I said.
"Yeh, but if you play fast they think you must have had some clever reason to do what you did. They see clever reasons you'd never think of."
"O.K.," I said. "Now be quiet. I'm learning how to score slams."