Archive for April, 2011

Guys, p-leeasssssseeeeeeeee

Geez. Well, this is MY blog and I can be irritated if I want to.

Are you all completely mad? Every last one of you?

Andrew, for heaven’s sake. Where did I ever say anything like you suggested re pros vs amateurs. I said that professionalising sports makes the standard go up a lot. Are you seriously going to argue about this? Are you seriously going to say that the standard of football and tennis, to take obvious examples, have NOT greatly increased in standard as they became professionalised? Of course many of our top players are ones who play with people who pay them. Where on earth did I say that ‘bridge pros’ are bums? But the term is laughable when you look at the wide range of players it covers, almost all of whom make nothing like a living from what they do, and at least some of whom have the talent to do so. Obviously there are dedicated amateurs and undedicated pros. That doesn’t in any way affect the general argument that the general standard goes up.

Where did I say bridge pros are complacent? I would have thought that is the last thing in the world they would be. They are employed on a whim. They will get sacked on a whim. How they play doesn’t necessarily relate to whether they will be employed. They live a nerve-wracking insecure life. If they were chess players, if they played well enough, they would win prize money, if they didn’t play well enough they wouldn’t. Still nerve-wracking, maybe, but at least one’s destiny is under one’s control.

As for Tim Seres, give me a break! He is this completely amazing exceptional player who loved the game, was utterly dedicated in the most professional way to it, who managed to say in the top handful of players in the world despite being able to compete against people close to his own level for a couple of weeks a year. I don’t see how we can possibly compare anybody to him, nobody else has done or, I imagine, will do anything like he has.

I DO say this, at the risk of further controversy. A professional bridge player is one who earns his living by PLAYING BRIDGE. Not by teaching it, taking bridge holidays, directing, writing. PLAYING. For your interest, having given Greg Quittner as an example of somebody who ISN’T a professional bridge player, and having had – was it Khokan? – comment that this IS what Greg is, Greg wrote to me recently and in discussions he made the very obvious point himself that he IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL BRIDGE PLAYER. That bit seems simple. A professional bridge player would be one who makes his living by PLAYING bridge. Sorry to labour what I would have thought was an obvious point. Ron Klinger, for example, is a bridge teacher by profession. He also plays bridge. He is NOT, to the best of my knowledge, a professional bridge player, paid to PLAY bridge and making his living from this.

Khokan. Ask not that I played two times for Australia in the women’s at great cost. Ask why I stopped. Because it cost me a huge amount of money for monumentally little reward.

Ben, get real, please. You point out that a chess tournament with a large sponsorship at the moment has now had the plug pulled on it. Like that means what? What it means is that it DID have that large amount of sponsorship for a long time and the Amber tournament isn’t even serious, it is just for fun. As if somebody in bridge sponsored a tournament for millions of dollars over a decade that was blindfold speedball. Like THAT would happen. Equally chess hasn’t found a sponsor for the $2M or so needed for the forthcoming world championship. But it expects to and does get that sort of sponsorship.

I asked a question more than once a while ago and eventually Bill Jacobs gave an oblique answer. The reason none of you go out and play on the international bridge circuit is that there ISN’T one. To the extent that you can go and play tournaments overseas, outside of representing Australia, every cent will come from your pocket with no chance of covering your costs. Chess, like other professionalised sports isn’t like that. You can go out, play tournaments, cover your costs, get better, get invites to better tournaments, etc etc etc. You can prove yourself without the great burden of trying to get to represent your country, and if you do prove yourself, there will be a positive financial outcome. As Bill pointed out, he has a job. Well, he would have, wouldn’t he? That’s how bridge players finance their bridge. By having day jobs.

Chess doesn’t have the money that big sports do and so it supports less in the way of professionals. But it gives everybody equal and fair chance to get to the top and get to a point where it can support you if you put in the effort, for relatively little financial input and it is input that might come back to you in spades. So to speak. All of this means that chess, like tennis, like footy, like – fill in as you please – has improved fabulously over last thirty years or so. I rather think the same thing is happening in poker at the moment. Lots of money. Standard goes up. Not a great surprise, is it?

I find it fascinating that the post before this was about a very important aspect of bridge: suit combinations and the fact that the Encyclopedia is so deficient in this area and how we might all have input into a comprehensive book on the subject which will be published in a while and what happens? NOTHING!!! Not one relevant comment.

I do think that if I’d written something of the same ilk on a chess blog, actual chess players would have written thoughtful things about what is missing, what is wrong….you get the drift. I’d spent some time recently trying to explain to Ian that bridge players aren’t interested and he simply didn’t believe it. Well. The data bears me out, I guess. Ian, I’m SORRY!!! Bridge players aren’t interested in a complete reference source on how to play suit combinations. Let me just read that again.

And then sign off, shaking my head.

PETER GILL: It’s time for you to wade in here.

April 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm 8 comments


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