It is often joked that " bridge is not a matter of life and death.........it is far more serious than that ! " such is the intensity and passion that this game can instill in those renown for their fierce competitive spirit. In the USA, the infamous incident of The Bridge Table Murder proves beyond doubt how bridge can cause so much friction, especially when husband and wife partnerships are involved.
In this story Myrtle Bennett shot her husband after an altercation over a game of bridge. Already frustrated with her husband John's inept play, the final straw came when he went down in a 4S contract she viewed as makeable. After calling him a " a bum bridge player ", he proceeded to slap her in the face several times in front of her guests. At this point, she went to the bedroom to find her husband's firearm........and the rest is history.
The case caught the public imagination big time. It became a media sensation and a flash point in the bridge craze that was sweeping the nation. Indeed, after a not guilty verdict, someone then remarked " it looks like an open season on husbands ".
Well, here in little old Britain we might well have an identical case to rival the Bennetts. Yesterday's newspaper headline was " Bridge player who constantly slated his wife's ability at cards stabbed her to death. " A trial currently taking place at Preston Crown Court concerns a 57 year old man, Stephen Green, who allegedly attacked his wife, leaving her with 100 injuries. Three days after the body was found, he was found by the police in a bath with self-inflicted cuts to his wrists.
The prosecution are claiming that Green believed that he was better bridge player than his wife Carole. Moreover, as a result of his drinking habit he had become vociferously critical towards his wife when they were playing cards. He often put her down, calling her stupid for failing to understand what was going on. Clearly the marriage was breaking up, and her bridge misdemeanours became the catalyst for his violent outbursts.
If one considers this to be an open and shut case , despite his pleas of innocence, Stephen Green will not escape as lightly as Myrtle Bennett. Maybe this trial, in an era where the popularity of bridge is in decline, will soon be forgotten.......never to achieve the same degree of notoriety. However, both cases should reinforce one important message : bridge is a seriously good game, one we should take seriously but never too seriously.