On Sunday, the New York Times, a 52-floor-high bastion of hard-hitting journalism (kind of officially) announced that it will be canceling its bridge column after 80 years. The decision, I imagine, is a cost-cutting move that probably came after bean counters crunched the paper’s numbers and provided higher-ups with bulletproof evidence that commentary about the ancient game—and the space that holds it—is no longer read widely enough by bubbes and zaydes from their terraces in Florida, and therefore should be snipped in favor of advertisements about, say, some totally hashtagable tech conference.
As a tribute, current bridge columnist, Phillip Alder, remembered the column’s history:
…the first regular column started in 1935, when Albert H. Morehead was appointed. He wrote only for Sundays until the column became daily in 1959. He held the post until the end of 1963, when he retired. He died three years later.
[Before he died, Morehead] worked on encyclopedias and thesauruses, becoming one of America’s leading lexicographers.
For most, the news will most likely elicit a reaction along the lines of: “The Times has a bridge column?”
But it stinks that the New York Times, America’s (as of 2013) second most-read newspaper, is cutting yet another column dedicated to an old-school game while providing no concrete promise of its continuation in realms elsewhere, digital or otherwise.
In October 2014, the Times (again, somewhat surreptitiously), axed its chess column run by Dylan Loeb McClain, despite the fact that professional chess, for the first time in decades, has a fresh-faced assassin atop its rankings.
Though many feel otherwise, including Garry Kasparov, I continue to lament the death of the Times’ chess column because I love to play the game, and the column remained one of the last to hit the ink.
I feel the same way about the bridge, which Alder, in one of his final columns for the Times, calls “the world’s greatest card game.”
Maybe now the paper will hire a young’n to write a catchy think piece about the intersection of Tinder and Candy Crush.
Related: Bobby Fischer vs. The Rebbe