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The transatlantic introduction was made this month at the River Club in New York. There were calypso singers and a brief, informative lecture on the game by its obstetrician, Kenneth W. Konstam, star of the world champion English bridge team (SI, Jan. 24).
Calypso was invented out of the head of R. W. Willis, an executive of British Overseas Airways Corporation stationed in Trinidad, and was developed, revised and refined by Konstam, who is General Manager of Thomas De La Rue & Company, Ltd., a London firm which prints playing cards, postage stamps and bank notes, all of which, he points out, require the very highest standards of printing. A poorly printed playing card might as well be marked.
Konstam has represented England at international bridge contests since 1937. He is also a golfer, good enough so that he got into the final 16 of the British amateur in 1936, and has played court tennis, squash and cricket as well. His large, athletically developed hands are fine for shuffling four decks of cards at once, but he doesn't think most people will have trouble with this phase of calypso.
"You can shuffle a set in sections and then mix the sections," he said confidently.
As for the game itself, Konstam believes it offers advantages in being a trick-taking game and a partnership game, like bridge, though there are variations for two and three players. Each player has his own personal trump, different from his partner's, and may take tricks against an opponent's lead either by playing a higher card of the same suit or by trumping. Object of the game is to make calypsos, which are sequences from the ace down to the deuce. The first calypso counts 500 points, the second 750 and any made thereafter count 1,000.
"Anyone can learn the game in five minutes," Konstam says.
An unrelenting promotion program has been set in motion to put the game across. Konstam will make appearances in St. Louis stores and is going to Miami to play bridge and push calypso. There will be a calypso cocktail (two drinks and you lose your meter). Calypso music will be plugged on radio and TV and, in fact, there has already come up from the Caribbean a calypso song about calypso. "I Love Calypso," it's called.
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