Everyone familiar with Charles Goren or his writings on bridge knows that he is as concerned with the manners of play as with the manner of play. His natural diplomacy, in fact, has made him not only a delightful bridge partner but one of this country's best ambassadors—in the world of international bridge, where the going can become slightly treacherous.
Part of Goren's tact lies in a talent for telling stories on himself. This week Goren states a bridge rule: When you give a come-on signal, play the highest card you can spare. It recalls an anecdote he recently told me when the conversation had turned to golf, a game Goren professes to play with more devotion than finesse.
On one occasion—when Goren was still a practicing attorney—he decided to play the course alone, in the interests of self-improvement. His game that day only endorsed the wisdom of his decision. "I began to suspect I was imposing even on my caddie. With a faint hope that I might be wrong, I led my card. 'I guess,' I said, 'I'm just about the worst golfer in the club, hmmm?'
"From the ensuing pause it was plain that hope had gone aglimmering. Finally the boy answered, 'No sir, I wouldn't say just that. I hear there's a lawyer who plays quite a game of bridge. And he's the worst!'
July 27, 1958
"A clear case," Goren said, "where my come-on was the highest card I could spare, and I got back not only the same suit but the very same card. I could hardly call a misdeal."
The demands of etiquette on the golf course to which Goren would seem to be oversensitive, if anything, are no less acute at the card table. One of these involves the problem of what to do with the fifth at bridge. There is no more frustrated soul than the player waiting for his chance to cut in while a rubber stretches into eternity. But a solution for this social dilemma exists. It has a strategy of its own. But it is still bridge and insures that a good time can be had by all, even when their number is not divisible by four. In the very near future, Goren will be explaining it.
First things first, however, and next week Goren presents from Miami Beach a preview of the Summer National Championships (Aug. 2-11). When the tournament is over, he will be on his "ambassadorial" way again, this time to Oslo, to report the European Championships and participate in the international meeting of bridge laws commissioners.