May 25, 2012

”When we perform, we generate communication and thereby build forms of communality.”

Jan Verwoert, Exhaustion, p.14

Bridge is all about performance, and according to one very famous bridge player (Bob Hamman) /…”bridge is a game of current form”. In other words; one cannot survive on old merits. The pressure to perform and to consistently do well in tournaments is sometimes extreme, and one can quickly become obsolete or regarded as a poor player. Once that happens, it is very hard to fight your way back.

Sometimes when it comes to young players, it is, for a time, sufficient to show potential to be regarded as a good player. Although that shine can soon wear off, and when you’re in the senior category, the competition can be fierce.

”Corruption – the art of brokering the open secret – therefore is the mother of the coded forms of indirect communication that traditionally constitute high culture: sexual seduction, political diplomacy, economic bargaining, poetry, theatre, painting, etc.”

Jan Verwoert, Secret societies, p. 136

This competition is not only a competition between the experienced vs beginners, old vs new, it is also a competition between genders and familiars vs unknown faces. There is a considerable surplus of men in the bridge society, and there is a constant discussion about whetheror not women can achieve at the same level as men.

This is not just a discussion concerning the factual living and social conditions which many women still have to succumb to ( career, family, etc. ). It is, astonishingly enough, also a discussion about women’s physical attributes. Such as whether or not a womans brain is even capable of operating at the same level as a mans.
It has even been argumented (on internetforums and even printed media) if it is not so that womens ability to perform decrease during the menstruation period, and that that in itself would be a sufficient reason for rejecting women in the national teams.

This discussion has been around for as long as I can remember, and I have also felt that if a woman is to really have a figthing chance to be a recognized player she has to either be the child of a well respected (male) elite player, or girlfriend/wife to one. This is probably not a conscious decision from the male part of the bridge community, but it is a sort of “truth” that everyone knows, but refuses to discuss on a logical level.

In the states, there was a case a few years back, where a female elite player decided to sue the ACBL (American Contract Bridge League) because she felt that she had been discriminated when they decided against putting her in the national team, although she was clearly qualified. She won the case, but unfortunately things didn’t really change for women in the rest of the world. This discussion will have to go on until the old secret of womens incapability has been completely buried.


– Kristin Nedlich


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