DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother and I have played party bridge for many, many years with several different groups. One group has only two tables of four women, for a total of eight women, whom they call the “regulars.” My mother and I are substitutes and fill in when asked.
Lately, when a regular cancels, we are called, only to be called back the following day and told, “Oh, so-and-so decided to play after all, so I won’t need you.”
I find this rude and in poor taste, don’t you? This has happened several times recently. I hoped that bridge etiquette would address this.
GENTLE READER: Bridge player though she is, Miss Manners has never understood players who interpret the rules as barring the door to anyone whose friends do not come in exact multiples of four. Has the dummy not noticed that at least one person will always be sitting out in every hand? Of all sports, bridge is particularly amenable to socializing.
Better to rotate the extra person in between rubbers than to rescind an invitation. But if the seriousness of the players absolutely requires consistent teams, then the regulars should be instructed that telling the hostess they are unavailable can no more be taken back than a thoughtless lead.