Bridge in the LAND of SMILES
You are coming to play bridge in Thailand. Here are some facts that might surprise you.
Virtually all the members and visitors at `farang` run clubs are under the impression that Thais do not play bridge outside Bangkok. Not true. In fact there are a lot of clubs where only Thais play. But these are not advertised on the internet in English. What is the point of Thai people who can`t speak English trying to attract foreign visitors who can`t understand a word of Thai? Let me put the question the other way. Why do farang run clubs not advertise their bridge sessions in Thai?
Next surprise: At the weekly regular Club tournaments at the Polo club - Federation HQ - they don`t use bidding boxes. Instead they write their bids on special small sheets of paper which remain on the table and in view of the players throughout the play of the hand. Strange you may think. But is it? How many times do club players lead out of turn? How often do you have to ask for a recap of the bidding? And all because even experienced club players wrongly put their bids back in the boxes before the lead is made. It happens all the time. Let me also put this question another way: Why do European clubs not insist that bids remain on the table until the play of the first trick has been completed? Logical or illogial in your view?
Another surprise: Except for the British Club, most bridge clubs in Bangkok play their regular sessions in the morning. Starting around 0930 and finishing by 1PM. Odd you may think! But I can tell you that it is much easier to concentrate and stay awake for 3 hours at that time of day than in the afternoon. Perhaps we should try it elsewhere. The afternoons are for post lunch siestas not bridge, are they not!
Next, let me draw your attention to the fact that, in Thailand, individual players do not usually pay a fee to be registered as players with the National Federation. True they can take out an individual annual or life membership if they wish, but they would still pay the same table fees at any of the affiliated clubs. Most clubs instead pay a group fee which covers residents and visitors alike. This is a point to bear in mind if you want to know how many people play in Thai clubs. You probably need to multiply the official number given on the WBF website by at least....twenty
And finally the subject that received a lot of publicity in February this year. The 120 card rule and the legality of card games. The 1935 Thai law is quite clear and unambiguous on many points. Namely that (1) you are not allowed to possess more than 120 playing cards unless they are stamped to prove they are tax paid, (2) not allowed to import ANY packs of cards without official approval, and (3) not allowed to gamble.
The 120 card law at (1) above probably arises from the fact that chinese packs once had 30 cards. We are reliably informed that China was the first country to play cards around 800 years ago. The law at (2) would probably not be enforced strictly at airports when it is clear that the cards are being used to amuse the family on long journeys. As for (3) it goes without saying that, to avoid misunderstandings, you should not put money on a table. Even if it is simply to pay for the teas, the table fees or the annual subs.
The only other point I will make on this sensitive subject is to say that the first reference to playing cards in the archives of British history was in 1462. More than five centuries ago in Britain, playing cards were BANNED by PARLIAMENTARY DECREE!!! That was a surprise for me. I am British, by the way. Trevor 8/11/16