Geir Helgemo, the world’s number one ranked bridge player, has been suspended by the World Bridge Federation for failing a drug test. I’d never heard of Mr. Helgemo and I’m sorry for his problems. I am not a bridge player. But for the life of me I can’t figure out how leaner muscles or pumping up your body is going to help you in a card game.

I’m filing this one under, “Who’d a’thought it!”

It would be a more logical trend in football, baseball or maybe soccer. Folks in those sports need their bodies to perform. And some players, especially those on the cusp, are looking for an edge. No one is saying it’s right. But it is understandable.

We’re talking about a game of cards. How physically demanding can it be? Do you have to wrestle the dealer for the first bid? If you lose the opening hand, are you attacked by your sponsors?

We can only hope this thing doesn’t spread to chess or Chinese checkers!

Geir is from the Netherlands. But he represents Monaco in World Bridge Tournaments. That by itself is enough to make you scratch your head.

If there are illegal drugs floating around that will improve your card playing ability, I’m not aware of them. And you would think if they did exist, some Las Vegas casino would have cornered that market by now.

I have no idea what he was taking. But it must have been synthetic and near ’bout lethal to get him banned from Championship Bridge for a whole year! Back home we got our required “stimulants” by eating turnip greens, carrots and pinto beans. And let me tell you, there wasn’t nothing synthetic about any of those food groups!

They were required eating in 1959. And they came accompanied with cornbread and buttermilk. If Mom thought we looked a little on the wormy side (low performance power in today’s parlance), she’d throw a skillet load of cow’s liver on your plate.

Leon warned us from the very beginning there was something a bit synthetic about that liver! It sure didn’t taste like any real food that I knew of. It was dense, hard to chew, and you had to cut it with a double bladed ax. Leon accused Mom on several occasion of ripping the soles off of Uncle Garner’s World War I parade boots.

And I’m dead certain positive that cow’s liver didn’t help our thought process one iota…..unless you count all the clever ways Leon came up with NOT to eat it!

Our card game of choice was Rook. Any single card in the deck didn’t weigh a smidgen of an ounce. Tommy Fields’ baby sister could throw one “out on the table” just as easily as Sputt “Tank” Garnett. Big, strong, lean, muscular arms didn’t have a thing to do with it.

We didn’t have national rankings or play our Rook games on TV. And we couldn’t play for money for obvious reason. But don’t think it didn’t mean something!

One evening Nicky Joe and Leon teamed up against me and David Mark. It was the big guys against the little brothers. Nicky Joe kept dealing the Rook and all the high cards to either himself or Leon. Along about midnight Dave began to question how one team could get the best hand EVERY TIME!

You didn’t have to be a student of the game to know something wasn’t on the up and up!

People would have already been shot dead if this was a downstairs poker game at the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1882. David must’a read my mind; he reached over and slapped the cards out of Leon’s hands. Nicky pushed my chair over backwards and I tumbled to the kitchen floor.

I leaped to my feet and Leon sent me flailing up against the wringer washer. David was on Nicky’s back trying to get his skinny arms around Nick’s neck. He was going for the sleeper hold! I threw a dirty pair of overalls toward Leon and dove for Nicky Joe’s legs. We all went down in a heap…..with me kicking and screaming on the bottom.

We had no chance in the crooked card game, but if me and Dave had eaten a few more turnip greens and liver, we might have faired better in the free for all!

And if bridge is anything like the way we played Rook, Geir Helgemo’s drug test failure might be a little more understandable……

 

Respectfully,

 

Kes