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Duplicate pairs are required to write the conventions they play on a card, which is placed where their opponents can see it. All a novice can think of writing on his is his own name and "Goren." Any LOL worthy of the title has a convention card that looks like a microfilmed Gone With the Wind.
When the novice finally takes his hand and manages to bid a quick, "One club," an LOL will ask sharply, "Are you playing the Hazard Inverse Transfer?" Somehow she manages to get across the simultaneous implication that if you aren't playing such a thing you should be, and if you are you shouldn't.
Eventually, when the newcomer has remembered not to shuffle the cards, not to play them in the center of the table and not to breathe, when the sweat has stopped trickling down his yellow spine and the face of his partner is again in focus across the table; in short, when he just begins to relax, one of the LOLs will suddenly bellow, "Director," loud enough to startle a sloth.
The official running the tournament advances sternly. Every pair of eyes at every table jerks up to look grimly at the novice, and there he sits, the Caryl Chessman of the East Orange YWCA. He had burped. The LOLs claim he was trying to signal his partner.
When he finally finishes three hands against these Mesdames Defarge the novice is amazed to see them smile sweetly, thank him and move off to the next table. Of course they thank him. They figure they have scored more points on those hands than anyone else possibly could during the rest of the night. Then two more sweet Little Old Ladies sit down.
Ridiculously, novices rarely give up. Pointsmanship triggers a hostile reaction. The peaceable card player gets so mad he is determined to come back next week and give it to some frail LOL right in the gizzard.
A couple of months of returning to the same weekly tournament to get revenge on the same LOLs, and the beginner and his partner unexpectedly finish third. Next week he is handed a small pink slip of paper. Across the top it reads, "Fractional Master Point Certificate." It bears his name, and in a small box at the lower right is the figure .05. He has five-hundredths of a master point. These people are pretty friendly after all, he decides. Two weeks ago didn't one of them say hello?
He will now buy a five-foot shelf of the 1,000-odd bridge books available, read some of the six syndicated newspaper bridge columns and take lessons for $20 an hour. He will find out about a Thursday night game in a church cellar and a Saturday afternoon game at a community center and a Sunday morning game in a closed hardware store. He will play five times a week, take his vacations during regional tournaments and develop insidious pointmanship techniques of his own with which he tortures not only novices, but LOLs (he has found they usually are not the best players).
He may eventually travel from coast to coast to play in national events, take a bridge cruise (400 have signed up already for this year's trip to Hawaii) and a bridge tour of Europe.
In the course of doing all of these things he will have become a very good bridge player—the quality of tournament play has risen immeasurably since World War II, a fact bemoaned by some oldtime experts who find points coming harder than ever. And he will be a delighted insider among those quarter million happily combative cohorts for whom a pink slip of paper has become the Ticket to Everything.