For years men have dominated the field of bridge, both at the table and at the typewriter. And for just as many years husbands and wives have been battling at the table. Bridge is now the No. 2 indoor sport. But these horrendous fights over the game could easily dislodge No. 1. After all, how can you be affectionate toward a spouse who has just gone down five tricks doubled?
It is time to examine the whys and wherefores of women in bridge. It is time to ask why men behave badly when they are partnered by their wives. And why the wives put up with their nonsense.
The key word is ego. It is impossible to play bridge without ego, but it is just as impossible to play with it and not know its role in the game.
This damaging little three-letter word interferes with us in almost every endeavor, but in bridge it always comes to the table with us. There it is jarred, insulted and damaged, and then, strange though it may seem, it rises to such heights of indignation that its size grows faster than the national debt.
Most arguments at the table have nothing to do with the game. In fact, if an argument were stopped mid-scream and the screamers questioned, I doubt if any bridge theory could be extracted. In other words, the players' egos have taken over the argument, which now becomes a battle of emotions.
There are no trophies for such battles, just tears, scars and, in one infamous instance, even a murder. Like the No. 1 sport, No. 2 involves, first, desire, then understanding—a little understanding of our spouses and a great deal of understanding about ourselves.
Let's take a look at a typical Poppa and Momma bridge game. Every single Wednesday night for years Poppa and Momma have played bridge with the Callahans, and every Wednesday night for years Momma has gone to bed with a headache—instead of with Poppa.
On the way to the game on this particular Wednesday, Poppa is seated behind the wheel of his extravagant car, puffing on a cigar, the cigar his doctor has repeatedly told him not to have. As he puffs away he wonders why his new secretary ignored his bright remarks that day. After all, he is the head of the business; he is still pretty good-looking for his years and his shape is not too misshapen. "Hmm," he thinks, "that silly chick's got a problem." (Poppa is not aware that his ego already has been tweaked, and, unfortunately for her, Momma is not aware of it either.)
Distracted by his thoughts, Poppa creeps over the center line, failing to see a little red MG passing on his left. He swerves, but not in time to avoid giving the MG a good poke.
Thirty minutes late arriving at the Callahans—and he's ready to play bridge? With his wife?