ACBL District 21 From the Golden Gate
to the Silver City
Feature Article

Bridge in Paris

By Grant Vance

Jessica and I took a glorious one-month vacation in Paris this May. During the days, we went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Rodin, and attended several days of the French Open tennis tournament, on their bright red clay courts. But in the evenings, we found the local duplicate, owned and run by former Bermuda Bowl champion Philipe Soulet. The club over looks the Eiffel Tower.

The French know how to run a club. 20–30 tables each day, 10–15 tables in the evening, seven days a week. The evening games are very civilized. 7pm for Champagne and wine. 7:30 for dinner. Only at 8:30 do you actually start playing cards. The club has three full-time non-bridge playing staff: a cook, a bartender, and a manager. Well, actually the bartender does play bridge, and is sometimes asked to fill out a table! We were welcomed with open arms, perhaps because they appreciated our attempts to explain all our alerts in French. Finding the proper words for an Impossible Negative in a Precision strong club auction was challenging. Even with the correct words, my pronunciations were very suspect. We found the players didnít bid quite as well, donít play many conventions, but in general play their cards a little better. The entry fees were a little pricey by American standards, 12.50 euros (or about $15), but the club was beautiful, the ambiance great, and the amenities made the game quite hospitable. They also had cash prizes. After a string of 2nd and 3rd place finishes, we finally won, and pocketed 100 euros, recouping one weekís worth of entries!

The evening dinners were our best experiences practicing our French with the locals; sharing an hour of talking to French players about bridge, travelling, and garnering suggestions for our next dayís sightseeing. I was surprised by one idiom. We were dining with the Fousards, a French man and American woman, who own a home in Paris, and another in Menlo Park (where they play in the Palo Alto unit). Asked how his dinner was (that I thought was wonderful), he said Cíest terrible. Later we discovered that the French word terrible means terrific!