The Life and Times of Robert Morris
By Phil Smith

The 1st thing to note about Rob is that he is not a Bob. Under No circumstances should you call him Bob, or Bobert, or anything that starts with a B. It's Rob or Robert, or Morris, or The Morris Man. Well, unless you wish to irritate him, in which case fire away. But I would warn you that he is well versed in self defense, so he might beat you up, or call you a tosser, or something.

The Birth of Bob Morris

He was born in darkest Brumshire, in a home birth that lasted for some 5 hours. With great labour pains did he enter this earth in a remote cottage a short walk from the apple tree under which he, we are told, was conceived. So was his first birth. It is more interesting, however, to understand the story of his second birth, and his subsequent life into which he was born: his birth into the misty grey that we, the guardians of the true way of life, know as bridge.

Again, it was under an apple tree, though this time a Cox, that he was conceived a second time; only this time the conception was of his own doing. At the tender age of 14, in the month of August, he was talking to a man of twice his age and, perhaps, three times his wisdom. They had talked already about the issues of the day: of politics and the weather, when the curious boy — for this was all he was at that point — asked the wise man about the piece of paper that he held in his hand. He did not know it at that time; but the magical piece of paper was a bridge score card, nor did he understand the strange markings which were written upon it. But he was intrigued, and inquired further, and so the three hour communication that would truly change his life began.

And so it began; the spark of interest in the misty grey world that is the dominating force in all our lives. But in the hilly dales of Brumshire, there was no place to learn about the game and thus the received wisdom lay dormant, like a lioness waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting buffalo.

Graduating in Poorness

The country life of his younger years was set aside the day he became a man, as Robert was sent, by his family, to an ecumenical collage to train for the priesthood. The family were devoutly catholic, with Robert's Uncle already tending a flock in the shire. But the transition from the countryside to the big city at Durham changed young Robert, as he became overawed by the opportunities that were available. The vice that lay within the doors of the public houses of the city, the late night games of cards that combined the drinking of hard liquor with high stakes gambling, the arms of a beautiful but manipulative woman, took their toll. Within just 6 months, away from the simple country life he once led, Robert Morris had truly fallen from grace, with no good friends, no money and no faith in his god, he left ecumenical training and took a room in an apartment block that overlooked the prison.

It was here, when all the bets were down, that the great game of bridge re-surfaced, and probably saved his life. A small bridge club met in the bar of the apartment block, and Robert, remembering his experience some 5 years earlier, joined the small band of card playing desperados. And for the first time in his life, there was a connection with a higher principle. The fundamental understanding that had never crossed his mind before. For you see, it was in the graduation from novice to old-hand that you graduated simultaneously from non-player to poor player.

And herein lies the paradox at the centre of bridge, a paradox that has caused Robert to join the team at poorbridge.com, and devote his time and energy to the cause. For he came to realise, as all of us that devote ourselves to this game have realised, that a person who plays no bridge can never be a poor bridge player, for he doesn't play. A novice bridge player cannot be a poor bridge player for he is not a bridge player but a trainee to the game (simularly, as Rob would point out from his past leaning in Ordination College, a student is not a priest until he is ordained.) It is only with graduation to the level of bridge player, endowed with the skills of a player that you become a poor bridge player.

It is a striving for continued poorness that focuses Rob these days. Be it in his study towards a secular Degree at a University, or his continued work in the game, poorness is seen as a sign of graduation, renewal and rebirth: the labour pains of poorness are thus to be celebrated.