Danielle MattoonMattoon

American Contract Bridge League, a client of McNeely Pigott & Fox PR of Nashville, will not campaign against the ditching of the bridge column by the New York Times culture editor Danielle Mattoon.

Ben Baden of MP&F, spokesperson for ACBL, said that while ACBL has no campaign of its own it is “correct to say that many bridge players nationally—including ACBL members and leadership—see the decision as harmful to the game and would love to see the paper reverse itself.”

New York City bridge players, who are able to play daily at seven bridge clubs, were flabbergasted at the axing of the bridge column, noting that the New York Post, supposedly intellectually inferior to NYT, is keeping its daily bridge column. NYT’s column ran three days a week.

NYT had dropped its weekly chess column in October 2014.

The cuts were made by Mattoon, a graduate of Barnard College, who has been with NYT since 2002 after working for Talk magazine, Rolling Stone, Details and The New Yorker. She was appointed in 2013 by former NYT executive editor Jill Abramson.

Bridge Column Took Time

The explanation that she gave to NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan for cutting the column—that it was “time-consuming” because the day’s game had to be played to check it out--particularly roiled bridge fans. One of the more than 2,500 emails sent to Sullivan was an offer by a bridge player to “play the game” for the NYT’s "overworked" editors.

“We have fewer culture writers and enormous demands on them,” Sullivan quoted Mattoon as saying.

Bridge players noted that NYT has almost unlimited resources for topics it is interested in such as the debate over the legality of gay marriage, injuries to football players, earth warming and other topics. “Hardly a day goes by that there is not some lengthy piece attacking the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for president,” said a bridge player. Players also said dropping the column does a disservice to senior citizens and is a form of age discrimination.

Water Mill Bridge OpenACBL, formerly based in Greenwich, Conn., where it had its own building, is now located in Horn Lake, Miss. It is a 401/c/3 (charitable, civic league) organization that had income of $16.1 million in 2013 and expenses of $15.2 million. Net assets were $7,773,272. It has 167,000 members. EIN is 13-0430330.

Bridge Players an Aging Group

The average age of bridge players as noted by this writer, who plays in a half dozen New York groups and three in the Hamptons, is in the 70s. Many players are in their 80’s, some in their 90’s, and one is 100 years old. A former investment banker, he sometimes has the highest score in the room.

ACBL has been asked what it is doing about attracting a new generation of bridge players.

Bridge is flourishing in the Hamptons as indicated by the construction in 2011 of a building dedicated to the game by the Water Mill Bridge Club.

The facility, operated daily by Jim and Kathie McLauchlen, can handle up to 120 players. They are provided a light snack and four hours of bridge playing for a modest fee.