The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats: A by Edward McPherson

By Edward McPherson

At one time the sport used to be even higher than baseball. this day bridge is performed via greater than twenty-five million humans within the usa by myself, with invoice Gates, a sitting superb court docket justice, and the fellows from Radiohead between its devotees. during this lively homage, Edward McPherson recounts the colourful background of the sport and his makes an attempt to grasp its mysteries in time to compete on the North American Bridge Championships—despite being slightly in a position to shuffle playing cards, not to mention play competitively. Insightful, humorous, and steeped in recognize, The Backwash Squeeze is an affectionate view of a grand video game by way of an intruder attempting to make his method into the internal circle.

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This is working out well for everyone. Bridge has long been played for its social component. One place the bridge community is booming is on the Internet, which allows hermits of all stripes a seat at the table. They log on to experience the company of like-minded fans, though as in all cyber-communities, it is a shuttered sort of socializing. com), a site where players can watch or play bridge for free. A championship match is taking place in Houston, and we check out the live Vugraph, which is essentially a digital broadcast of the game with the bidding, play, and all four hands represented in real time by brightly colored graphics.

For a true Yarborough is quite rare. The actual odds are 1,827–1. Outrageously bad hands, like outrageously good ones, don’t come up very often. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, the chances of drawing any one predetermined hand—thirteen specific cards—is 635,013,559,600–1. So if you’ll permit me a minute of armchair philosophizing (and the math majors stifle their yawns), it seems to me that each bridge hand is a minor miracle. In retrospect, the odds of your getting that particular collection of cards are staggering, a once in a lifetime occurrence.

She might be joking, but I can’t tell. She says I have a hidden talent for bridge, though I imagine she tells that to all the players. As we newbies sit in the glass-enclosed classroom, the club heavyweights lumber by and stare in at us as if we’re zoo animals; we gaze blankly back, like the sad, confused menagerie that we are. Outside, in the big room, some seventy people are murmuring over their cards. It is a mixed crowd. There is a smattering of yarmulkes, baseball hats, and garden-variety bonnets; a young guy in leather sits across from a blue-hair in a seasonally themed sweater.

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