Chess, that creaking old game, is catching on everywhere. The Chicago Tribune hired as a chess columnist Grand Master Larry Evans, whose first appearance in print was accompanied by a chess contest for readers. It was not a very big contest; first prize was a chess book. But hundreds of telephone calls were received that first day, and more than 1,000 responses came in from readers in 20 states and Canada. Sounds as though chess might last as long as the Hula Hoop.
A GOOD STEP BACKWARD
Some people in the state of Michigan are kind of excited, and should be, about a move to permit girls to compete with boys in varsity sports. A girl at Berkley High in suburban Detroit was not allowed to play on her high school tennis team. She appealed to State Senator Daniel Cooper, who introduced a bill that would let girls compete on varsity teams in noncontact sports. The bill passed the state senate and went on to the house of representatives. The Michigan High School Athletic Association fought it because, says MHSAA President John Cotton, "It is strictly illegal for girls to compete on boys' teams. Senate Bill 1082 gives the MHSAA control of high school sports, and the MHSAA handbook says, 'Girls are not to engage in interscholastic athletic contests when part or all of the membership of one or both of the competing teams is composed of boys.' " (This convoluted bit of prose makes one wonder what the "part" of the team would be that is not boy and cannot be girl.)
At about the same time, two girls at Huron High in Ann Arbor who regularly defeated boys in tennis practice but could not play for Huron's team appealed to the local board of education, and the board unanimously agreed that the girls could be on the varsity whether or not the legislature completed passage of the Cooper bill.
Hurrah for Ann Arbor. And Senator Cooper. Opponents argue that sex segregation is necessary to protect the girls' interscholastic athletic program, but that argument seems bureaucratic and contrived, at least to one who recalls the tennis team that represented Gorton High School of Yonkers, N.Y. in the 1930s. Liby Ostruk, a pretty girl and a whale of a tennis player, was No. 3 "man" on the four-player "boys" tennis team. Aside from a slight resentment that a girl could play tennis better than all but two boys in the school, there was not a great deal of fuss and bother. There must have been dozens of similar instances back then. What has happened around the country since to create the problem that Michigan and other states are having so much trouble trying to solve?
From San Francisco comes word that a book has been written on bar dice, that favorite sport of golfers and other drinkers. The book has a title commensurate with its importance: Complete Rules and Strategies For More Than 80 Different Bar Dice...GAMES THEY PLAY IN SAN FRANCISCO...Including Boss, Liars, 4-5-6, Horse, Indian, Turnsies, Ship Captain, Selection-Rejection, Zilch, Yahtzee, Red Dog and Many Others.
The author is Jester Smith, a pseudonym. Smith has put the probability factors of the various games through a computer, but the 105-page book is far from being a dull compendium. Smith says he has played all the games and he analyzes, as they do in poker books, the various types of players and the tricks they use, including the subtle change from strategy to plain old cheating. "A friend of mine did not want me to write this book," the author claims. "He said he spent $5,000 learning to play bar dice, not to mention another $20,000 he'd blown on drinks. Now, for $5, amateurs will have the information it took him 10 years to learn."
Drink up. Wanna roll for the check?
Since cooking ranks as No. 2 sport in France (according to the French, No. 1 is something called belote), it is worth noting that there is a lot of talk about a culinary revolution over there. So much talk in fact that the international press has got into the act, along with France's own newspapers, every last one of which has a dictatorial gastronomy column. It is still difficult to tell what the precise aims of the revolution are, but in general haute cuisine (as exemplified by La Tour d'Argent's pressed duckling) is out and simplicity is in. Even the mighty Guide Michelin is in trouble, with a younger, livelier index to good food, the Guide Richer, listing dozens of small bistros the Michelin would never even give a nod to. This is no doubt a healthy trend, but for those of us who have been accustomed to looking to the French to tell us whether to drink pink or purple with the roast vulture, it is rather a letdown to know that we can now make the gastronomic pilgrimage to Paris for what?—a perfect, pure, pork chop.