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Last Updated: Monday, 3 December 2007, 14:05 GMT
Bridge players told to smarten up
A bridge game
Players dressed more formally at the beginning of last century
Bridge, a game not usually associated with aggressive players, is to get a new behaviour policy to clamp down on rowdiness and unsuitable attire.

The English Bridge Union is planning to introduce the national policy in a bid to tidy up players.

Top British and European player Tony Forrester supported the policy, saying that clothing did affect play.

He criticised men of all ages who attended tournaments "in shorts, smelly T-shirts, sandals, no socks".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that bridge "has moved in a direction we're not entirely happy with".

Back in the 60s and 70s players wore jackets and ties to evening sessions, but now they are more likely to be scruffier.

Mr Forrester added: "You act according to how you dress - you go to a funeral, you won't go in a nice loud t-shirt; you go on the beach, you won't go in black.

Bridge has always had an element of aggression and extreme competitiveness
Norman Hart
Bridge player

"If you allow people to dress in a particular way they tend to act according to what that dress is."

But he described a wider problem in bridge - involving the abundance of regulations that players have to abide by as a "minefield".

"It's not simply enough to play, you have to make sure you tell your opponents exactly what you are doing in the right way at the right time. And it scares people."

Fellow player Norman Hart, who has played for more than 40 years mainly in London clubs, described the game as "the recreational equivalent of freemasonry with all the systems and conventions and gadgets".

"Bridge has always had an element of aggression and extreme competitiveness.

"It's a bit like driving - it brings out the worst in people."

'Passion'

But he does not support a new policy on behaviour, saying clothing was "irrelevant".

"As long as people are dressed in a smart manner - obviously they shouldn't be wearing smelly T-shirts at all.

"But the clothes are irrelevant. Bridge is a partnership game and it can get very tense and sometimes it spills over into bad manners."

Both players called for a simplification of the game to encourage new players.

Mr Forrester said: "People must not be scared of coming to play bridge. But can you really criticise something for creating passion?"



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