The world of bridge gets political

swanplay.com What do you think of when you hear the word “bridge” (the card game, not the physical structure)? A bunch of white-haired ladies, sitting around a card table, having tea, right? It’s not exactly the place where heated debate on foreign policy happens. Or is it? The NYT is reporting that at the world ...

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598111_071115_bridge_05.jpg

swanplay.com

What do you think of when you hear the word "bridge" (the card game, not the physical structure)? A bunch of white-haired ladies, sitting around a card table, having tea, right? It's not exactly the place where heated debate on foreign policy happens.

Or is it? The NYT is reporting that at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month, the winning team from the United States caused a stir when one of its members held up a handwritten sign reading "WE DID NOT VOTE FOR BUSH." During the course of the tournament, American team members had been repeatedly asked by other international competitors about U.S. policies on torture and on Iraq. To demonstrate that they, too, were not always in agreement with the Bush administration, they spontaneously scribbled the sign and held it aloft as they received their trophies while singing along with the national anthem and waving Old Glory. Now, the U.S. Bridge Federation, a private association that picks U.S. teams for play abroad, is threatening to punish them for mixing politics with bridge. However, the American team is getting support from some of their competitors:

swanplay.com

What do you think of when you hear the word “bridge” (the card game, not the physical structure)? A bunch of white-haired ladies, sitting around a card table, having tea, right? It’s not exactly the place where heated debate on foreign policy happens.

Or is it? The NYT is reporting that at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month, the winning team from the United States caused a stir when one of its members held up a handwritten sign reading “WE DID NOT VOTE FOR BUSH.” During the course of the tournament, American team members had been repeatedly asked by other international competitors about U.S. policies on torture and on Iraq. To demonstrate that they, too, were not always in agreement with the Bush administration, they spontaneously scribbled the sign and held it aloft as they received their trophies while singing along with the national anthem and waving Old Glory. Now, the U.S. Bridge Federation, a private association that picks U.S. teams for play abroad, is threatening to punish them for mixing politics with bridge. However, the American team is getting support from some of their competitors:

By trying to address these issues in a nonviolent, nonthreatening and lighthearted manner,” the French team wrote in by e-mail to the federation’s board and others, “you were doing only what women of the world have always tried to do when opposing the folly of men who have lost their perspective of reality.”

Somehow I doubt that this kind of e-mail message, especially coming from France, is going to change anybody’s minds at the federation.

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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