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There Once was a Limerick Contest

Readers flood our inboxes with limericks ranging from good to really awful

In the January editorial, I announced a limerick contest, inviting submissions from readers of the Bridge Bulletin. Boy, was that a mistake. Because limerick writers typically employ puns and strained rhyming constructions, the poems are often groan-inducing by their nature, but many Bridge Bulletin readers seemed intent on lowering the bar even further. To see what I mean, keep reading, but at your own risk. You have officially been warned.

First, many of our readers seemed determined to deliberately ignore the concepts of meter and rhythm. How many syllables go into a well-composed limerick? “Who cares!” seemed to be the reply from many of our poets, who littered their limericks with lines of random length.

Maybe I should have been clearer in my instructions. Traditionally, limericks consist of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines have between seven and 10 syllables. Additionally they must rhyme and have the same rhythm. The third and fourth lines should have five to seven syllables, and they must also rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm.

Check out this effort by Jo Anna Smith of Cotter AR:

My partner almost lost her composure
When I doubled her and got director’s disclosure.
She had to pass.
And then she asked,
Now I have to play this? Are you sure?

There are 13 – count ’em, 13 – syllables in that second line. No, ma’am. We’re bridge players; we’re supposed to be able to count.

Next, here’s a literary atrocity from Victor Weedn of Alexandria VA:

It was just the other day
That I sat down to play,
When I realized I had the wrong partner.
“How could this be?” I asked the director.
And so I was told it was the wrong day to play!

It’s hard to know where to begin an analysis of that one, but life is short, so I recommend not spending too much time doing so except to gawk.

This one by Nancy Smagala of Fairfax VA is an arrhythmic mess::

The bridge player’s eyes lock on her hand
As her brain reels and makes a slam plan.
Thirty-two points she does hold,
Should she be ever so bold
To bid seven and hope it will stand?

Fittingly, nausea is the theme of this limerick by Alan Levine of Massapequa NY:

We decided to take an ocean cruise
I became seasick and drank too much booze
The boat was so rocky
I threw up souvlaki
No masterpoints – I forgot to pay dues.

And people wonder why we don’t have more poetry contests in the magazine. At least the meter and rhyme were good, Alan.

Leonard Feld of Jericho NY sent in several stinkers, but redeemed himself with this one:

Bridge Bulletin Editor Paul
Was crying way out in the hall
Poems came in
Ten thousand and ten
The doggerel pile was too tall!

Fortunately, there were some better efforts. Here’s one by James Wicht of Bristol VA:

My teammates and I went away
To Gatlinburg for a week’s stay
So we played in KOs
Against dozens of pros
Netting 20 points each, hip hooray!

Phil Graham of Tulsa OK submitted this:

A rookie had very few bubs
For his bidding produced many flubs
The lad was a layman
And didn’t know Stayman,
Was dummy sometimes in two clubs.

Sarah Saltus of Hackettstown NJ understands the structure well:

A bridge playing fellow named Wade
Was unhappy with how he had played.
He was down in the dumps,
For though hearts had been trumps,
The card he’d pulled out was a spade.

Sheldon Kushner of Cincinnati OH penned this:

I know a bridge player named Cass
Who simply never will pass
Complains of bad breaks
And his partner’s mistakes
Oh, what a pain in the ass!

From Elihu Schepps of Boca Raton FL:

We all know the story of Chase
Who played at a maddening pace
But the slowness proved minor
To the sin much sublimer
The trumping of his partner’s ace.

Mind you, it’s OK to distort the meter a bit to accommodate odd words. Neil Stern of Napa CA was challenged by friends to incorporate “pusillanimous” in a limerick, and he was up to the task:

At duplicate bridge it’s unanimous.
To opponents we’re never magnanimous.
For the surefire way,
In the bidding and play,
To prevail, don’t be pusillanimous.

Faye H. Dempsey of Greenville NC wrote:

A handsome bridge player named Bert
Was known by the girls as a flirt!
His partner would bid
And just after she did
He’d wink twice and then blurt, “Alert”!

Ward Thompson of Penn Valley CA called his entry “Dissing a Name”:

When pard mentions the Grosvenor Coup,
Bridge purists get into a stew.
“That refers to a gambit,
It’s not a coup, dammit,
And it’s ethically dubious, too.”

Marc Rissman of The Villages FL sent several limericks, including this one:

The woman who sat at the table
Was my bridge partner, “unlucky” Mabel
She would make such a scene
If you know what I mean
Which is why some would call her unstable.

John Rowell of Alert Bay BC sent this one:

There once was an old Grand Life Master
Who wouldn’t play cards any faster
He said, “Oh, I know
Why I play too slow
That’s how I prevent a disaster.”

Haters of computer deals will find this one from Jim Feinstein of South Bend IN especially pleasing:

There once was a man from Racine,
Who programmed a dealing machine.
With the cards oh he toyed,
So there was always a void,
And the king was behind the ace-queen.

First runner-up is this submission from John Morris of Jonesboro AR:

For fifty-six years of my life
I’ve partnered at bridge with my wife.
It’s been a long road
But she’s carried the load
And now we are Masters for Life.

And the winner of the miserly first-place prize of $40 in Bridge Bucks is this entry from Pam Hudson of Hilo HI:

To staunchly conservative Loren,
All post-Fifties ideas are foreign.
Our partnership ended
When he got offended:
I told him he’s no Charlie Goren.