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Understanding the USA - it is all about US

One of the peculiarities of my homeland is that while we are a nation of immigrants and decedents of immigrants, we do not much care for ideas that did not originate here or have not been stamped with our version of “Yankee ingenuity”.

Consider our sports. We follow American football, baseball, basketball and NASCAR as far and away the top grossing sports. We like the sports we invented. The rest of the world follows soccer (our term), cricket and rugby. Whereas other countries have taken to many of our sports - notably basketball and baseball - total revenues for major league soccer in the USA are less than a quarter of the revenue generated by college football. The transfer fees for just one your footballers exceeds the value of any of our entire MLS teams. We just do not care about things “foreign”.

We accept things like “Chinese food” only because ours is an Americanized version. As is, (somewhat fortunately) our interpretation of Italian food. But for the most part, we view anything that has not been properly “Americanized” as a fifth column, commie conspiracy. There are many “French” restaurants in the USA. But we do not eat frogs legs nor pigeon. The concept of dining on pigeon grosses out most Americans. We prefer the much more tasteless turkey. A bird that is just gross looking, as well. But it is an American bird.

We rejected tea as too British. We view coffee as the proper American drink. Willfully oblivious to the fact that is was first cultivated by Arabs and Turks. We reject other languages. Many Europeans are bilingual or even multilingual. The old joke is  one calls someone who speaks only one language an American. And our language is been properly sanitized. Aluminum is four syllables and we do not run anti-clockwise.

We were perhaps, crazy about the Beatles.  But that was OK because “we invented rock n’ roll”.  To our minds, this was the UK paying homage to an American invention.  The way we now view Toyota or Nissan.  I am quite sure that we Yanks "invented" the automobile.  The US Patent office issued George B. Seldon the patent in 1895.  Benz's "Patent-Motorwagen" some nine years earlier was, in our view, a tricycle.

We took to Bridge because we “invented it”. We gave all the credit to Harold V. Those commie Ruskies could have never contributed ideas like placing dummy face up. Or the very name of the game that we corrupted into “bridge”.

And that great American hero, Ely Culbertson (born in Poiana Varbilau, Romania) was master of the universe. He defeated British Bridge. First 1776, then 1812 and now Ely. Beating the Brits yet again was the biggest thing to happen before “the miracle on ice” - which is the only reason we in the USA still follow any hockey.  Hockey is nearly a religion in Canada.  A country we refer to as "our neighbor" and view mainly as an extension of Minnesota.  Nice people who don't mind bad weather.

If Jack Marx had published in the Bridge World rather than Sam Stayman, I am fairly certain that the ACBL would still have the Marx convention on its banned list along with Multi. How could a convention named “Marx” not be part of the great commie conspiracy like fluoridated water? Everyone now f-i-n-a-l-l-y plays “Roman Keycard”. But we still call it Blackwood or “RKC” as no true American would want to admit that some Italians improved on Easley’s idea. If we accepted ideas from fur-i-ners, more than 6 or 7 US players would actually play Gazzilli.

Bidding boxes were invented in Sweden and were adopted by the WBF in world champion play just 8 years after introduction. 20 years later in the USA, American players were still bitching and complaining and refusing to use them. Sweden? It is a socialist system. To an American, that was like communism only without as many tanks.

I first saw a bidding box at the Cavendish Bridge Club in Boston. I thought it was simply brilliant. I described it as man’s fourth greatest invention. Right after fermentation, fire and the wheel. (In that order). My fellow Americans HATED the device. Today, new players accept the bidding box without question. But like the coffee they drink, they remain blissfully ignorant of its historical origins.

It is standard practice in England (and probably other countries) to leave the bidding cards on the table until the opening lead has been placed face down.

Why? Because it makes sense!

But we will never do something that logical simply because we did not think of it first. No, what we do in America is start by putting all the cards away. Then someone usually either asks for a review or leads out of turn.

But there is no chance we will ever let “our game” be modified by those transatlantic fools whose asses (note: there is no ‘R’ in ass.  Unless we are telling you 'R' one) that we in the good old USA had to save twice during the last century. Why give you Brits credit for defeating the Luftwaffle or stopping Rommel?

In Norway, it is standard practice to pause 20 seconds after the dummy comes down before a card is played. This is a wonderful regulation. It eliminates UI from tempo. If employed in this country, it might even cause declarers to count their winners and losers and create a plan of play.

But no! This is America. This is where players exercise their Constitutionally protected right to instantly call for a card from dummy and then spend many minutes later agonizing over what card to play halfway through the hand they screwed up.

I often see others post regulations or procedures that their NBOs follow that make much more sense than what we do here in the USA. And I think: gee, too bad this will never happen now. Another foreign innovation, doomed to be rejected by us.

Because America does not need the world. We “invented” bridge. That great American, Fred Gittlemen, founded BBO. And that great American, Gavin Wolpert, helped found Bridgewinners.

Well. North Americans, anyway.  Currently residing in Vegas.  And what is more American than Las Vegas?  A place with our version of the Eiffel tower and the Great Pyramid.  Like DisneyWorld, it is our view of what the world should look like.  Since the rest of you simply do not live up to our standards in real life, we had to build it in the desert and swamps.  Gotta love our ingenuity.

Please feel to comment on any bridge procedures or practices we Americans should adopt if we were not so xenophobic.

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