No Trump

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

What do I do about a person I met online? I recently discovered online
bridge, an incredible community of people. At any hour of the day or
night there are 10,000 tables going. A woman whom I met asking to
be taken to any open seat complemented my playing. We did well, had
compatible styles and values of fun and fast play, so we began playing
regularly. I liked her enough to give her my cell number, so we have
been able to text to set up games. We also see when the other logs on
because we are ”friends.” Appreciate she is my replacement for my
best friend and partner of many years who died of breast cancer six
months ago. The new woman, call her Barb, was great in the
beginning but the last few weeks she’s been slow on the uptake and I
have had to prompt her with a “P?” when it is her turn to bid or lead.
This now happens a handful of times in an hour of playing. We tell
people we are fast and friendly but lately in addition to lapsing out she
has made bids that have both opponents and me scratching our heads
and generally seems out of it. What should I do?

No Trump
Dear No Trump:

Online friendships are different than in-person ones, but in both cases
there are real people on the other side of the relationship. I suspect
you could change some settings on your computer and cell phone and
she might think you had vanished of the face of the earth. That’s
cowardly and rude. Instead of disappearing into the mists of
cyberspace, be the kind of friend you probably were to your former
partner. Even if there is a medical reason for her lapses, you’re
unlikely to cook her chicken soup or drive her to chemo appointments
the way you would a close friend. But simple courtesy suggests that
you treat her like a real person with real feelings not some imaginary

Send her a simple text that says, Are you okay? The last few weeks
you have seemed slower and distracted than when we met. I am
uncomfortable telling opponents we are fast and then not playing that
way. I also feel weird prompting you. Please tell me if there’s
something that explains it or how we can get back on track. Wait for a
while before you reply. If it’s temporary accept the inevitable apology.
If it persists, tell her you want to diversify your partner base. The
cyber world has both limitations and advantages. Distance is a double-
edged sword.