Fair Play or Foul: Cheating Scandals in Bridge by me

Dear Ms. Chua,

On an afternoon where my bridge partner had to cancel at the last minute, I looked through some books on a shelf in a side room. Serendipitiously and gloriously I found Fair Play or Foul. As mathematicians would say: elegant. Right to the point and way way ahead of its time. A pleasure to read and to learn from. A wonderful book.

Bernard Schneider

(Connecticut, USA)

I don’t know if the review I wrote below makes it sounds like nobody bought this. In fact the whole edition of 1200 copies or so sold out in a few months and I received many amazing comments on it. A couple of people even said it changed their lives, difficult as that may be to believe. I keep all this mail for a while, but lost it all in the mother of all computer accidents.

But I still get correspondence about it and a couple of days ago the above letter turned up.

So there, Jeff Rubens, who wrote not one but two dedicated angry editorials in Bridge World complaining about what a terrible book this is. Bernard (whoever he is) and I poke our tongues out at you.

Fifteeen or so years ago the author was in NY on the phone to Jeff Rubens, highly influential editor of the world’s most important bridge magazine, Bridge World. Having finished this ms. she was finding it hard to publish. For some reason it was engendering a lot of ill-will. At any rate, her American friends had insisted she talk to Rubens about it, and, having described to him what it was, he said ‘Hmm. So it’s a Godel, Escher, Bach sort of book.’ She thought for a second and said ‘Yes, I suppose it is’. Pleased as punch, of course, who wouldn’t want their book compared with this absolute classic. Much later on, she’s just read wiki on Godel, Escher, Bach and noticed this:

In response to confusion over the book’s theme, Hofstadter has emphasized that GEB is not about mathematics, art, and music.

All of a sudden the light’s switched on. Rubens meant the book isn’t about anything, he meant but it isn’t a bridge book is it, he meant who’s going to read the bloody thing? I can hear his pursed lips now, I can see him rolling his eyes as he makes this impolite comparison.

Disclosure: the star system isn’t necessarily reliable in this instance.

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