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Bridge to the 21st Century?

Forget the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, the SGMA Capital Challenge road race and all those Congressional golf tourneys. For these Members, Congressional competition was all about bridge.

The four Republicans pictured above — from left, Rep. Arlan Stangeland (Minn.), Sen. Bob Packwood (Ore.), Rep. Bob Smith (Ore.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) — competed in the first Congressional Contract Bridge Match on Oct. 26, 1989.

The House trounced the Senate, scoring 83 international match points to the Senate’s 21 points. Each chamber fielded six Members for the bipartisan match, which was held at the Capitol Hill Club and lasted four hours.

“Mr. Speaker, several weeks ago several foolhardy Members of the Senate had the audacity to suggest a challenge to the House in the genteel game of contract bridge. … It was a dark day in the halls of the Senate. As captain of the House team I was proud to accept the winner’s trophy,” Stangeland said on the floor after the victory.

Current Members who participated in the tournament included Cochran, then-Rep. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.).

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