Ace of Trumps

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I&'m the hostess of a weekly drop in bridge group. Some of us are long
time players who do pretty well at the local club. Others are friends of
friends who play good social bridge. You sit with whoever’s there when
we star and eventually people rotate in and out till we have two tables.
Long story short one of the people invited her cousin who moved to
town. Said cousin was a beginner but we all put up with her for the
sake of group harmony.


Now she&'s started taking classes and instead of things getting
better they have gotten much worse. It&'s like she swallowed
a bridge book but only partially digested it. Our fun Tuesday afternoons
have turned into a hectoring discussion of what&'s right and
wrong every hand. People used to have fun. Now they&'ve stopped
coming and I&'m worried that this one bad apple is going to ruin a
decade-long gathering that’s been a wonderful source of friendship
and support. I don’t want to alienate anyone, but I know I need to say
something to someone.

Ace of Trumps

Dear Ace of Trumps:

As the hostess you have the right to set the house rules. First, take an
inventory of the regulars who haven’t been attending to understand if
you’ve diagnosed things correctly or if it’s a temporary confluence of
scheduling. If people seem hesitant, ask them up front if what’s
bothering you is bothering them. Assure them you will not use their
names directly in subsequent conversations.

Then talk to the old timer who invited her cousin. Explain the next
convo you’re gong to have is to explain to the cousin that the group is
not a class, and that it’s also not for beginners. Say that you value the
long-standing friendship and do not want to be perceived as in any
way rude or unwelcoming, but that her cousin is in the wrong place for
her level of play. Tell her you’re going to suggest that she attend
classes at the local bridge club for a year so that she can get the
10,000 hands of playing experience that most of the regulars have.
You can admit your own discomfort with the amount of talking and say
you’ve heard the same from others. Say you’re happy to defer to her if
she prefers to have the conversation with the cousin directly, or do the
deed yourself, whichever is easier for her family harmony.