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Bridge Anyone? Or Chess?

By Dean Norman

It didn't take many moves for him the checkmate me. I wasn't surprised, because I was a pretty average chess player. Well, no, I was surprised because he didn't look like a chess player. He was a stocky, muscular guy who might like to compete at wrestling or football.

“How did you get to be good at chess?” I asked.

“Well, after dinner we can go back to our cells, or we can come to the library and read. Or we can play cards or play chess. They won't let us play poker. Because poker is associated with gambling, and that is associated with crime. The only card game we can play is bridge.

“The first two years most guys play bridge. When ladies from bridge clubs come here, we tear 'em up. They don't have a chance. After two years playing bridge it isn't much of a challenge. So we play chess. It takes longer to learn chess. You cats from chess clubs win most of our games. Learning chess can keep a guy busy for a long time.”

Most of Kansas City Chess club players were still involved in their games with the men from the Ft. Leavenworth Federal Prison chess club. I wanted to ask my opponent how come he was here, but that would be impolite. I think we had been told not to ask that. I wondered if he would continue to play chess when he got out? Does learning bridge and chess prepare an inmate for a good life when he has served his time? Did any of them have sentences long enough to be able to tear up the visitors from chess clubs?

I think they should have ping pong tables at Ft. Leavenworth. I like that better than chess. If I ever got sent there for correction, I would enjoy playing ping pong every night.

— Dean Norman

Dean Norman is a cartoonist and humor writer, whose work has appeared in greeting cards, The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine and The Kansas City Star. He's also written comedy for cartoon shows and written and illustrated children's books. He illustrated a cartoon book for Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks Adventures.

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