High among the contributions of Charles Goren to bridge have been his efforts on behalf of the kibitzer. By his own urbane demeanor at the table, whether as a tolerant player or discreet spectator, he has set an example for all to follow. The result has served to raise the kibitzer from depths of unendurability to comparative heights of respectability. This Sunday afternoon over the ABC-TV network, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's Contributing Editor on cards will be demonstrating the fine art of kibitzing at its highest level as he presides over a weekly half-hour series called Championship Bridge with Charles Goren.
The program will consist of hands played in a set match between pairs of bridge champions, all Life Masters by reason of their tournament victories. From the soundproof sanctity of an observation room Goren explains and criticizes the unrehearsed evolution of the play. "This," he says, "is kibitzing, and I'm all for it and always have been—as long as it doesn't disturb the players."
Goren's qualifications for discussing the performance of Life Masters in their presence are in a class by themselves. For among other distinctions in bridge, he has for years been far ahead of his nearest rival in the number of master points he has earned. He is indeed the "master" of the Life Masters, and his total points now number around 6,000. "Exactly how many?" I asked a few days ago when he returned from Europe. (A U.S. delegate to the World Bridge Federation, he had been working on plans for the first World Bridge Olympiad scheduled for next spring in Italy.)
"How many?" Goren replied. "I honestly can't say until I have a chance to see my mail. The American Contract Bridge League sends a postcard each time it officially adds to your total. And I'd left for Europe before I heard from the last tournaments I played." Whatever his present total of points, Goren's lead is a strong one, and no competitor is likely to be trumping it for a good many years.
A television veteran, Goren mentioned that his only difficult moments in the new series come on those rare occasions when he is obliged to discuss an error by one of his fellow experts. "Even Life Masters," he said, "like major leaguers, sometimes throw to the wrong base."
Let 'em throw—and now those of us with lower fielding averages can look forward to two good chances a week to learn from Goren what the right base is: first in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, second on television.