This week's Friday Five is from J-P Voilleque, known as "lawduck" on Twitter and the internet (and "Mr. Duck" in our initial communications). After becoming obsessed with contract bridge, he now occasionally blogs about his adventures at Cards Down. And when he's not fooling around, he works as an attorney at Immix Law Group.
Let's get this clear - I'm not talking about 'old' games like Zaxxon or Commodore 64 classics. I'm talking about old games - older than computers, older than Milton Bradley, sometimes older than the hills themselves. Games that your grandparents played. These are the byroads and alleyways along which you may discover the classics.
People have been writing about games for as long as they've been writing about anything. The ancient Egyptian game Senet appears to have gone from parlor diversion to a part of the rituals of the dead, and the writing and depictions of the game underwent a similar transformation. In our modern era, much ink has been devoted to the classics, and we sometimes encounter people who wrote about games (because they happened to be exceedingly good at them), but who were also fantastic writers. As we know, this is not always a requirement for writers in niche subjects.
It makes it all the more wonderful to read Victor Mollo's books about contract bridge technique, as well as his anthologized vignettes of the bridge exploits of his "Menagerie" of characters at a London bridge club. David Bronstein is a phenomenal writer who just happened to be one of the greatest chess players of his era. From the moment he picked up a pen until his death in the last decade, he provided incisive and astonishing insights into the mind of a chess player, the pressures of tournament play, and the wonder of chess. You can read these two authors without a drop of understanding of the game in question and still be the better for it.