Fine Points


See if you can make a slight refinement in each of these sentences from the Bridge Bulletin, the monthly magazine enjoyed by members of the American Contract Bridge League.

1. Masterpoints, as they are presently constituted are meaningless.

2. Watch out for an opportunity to block the opponents’ suit.

3. The lineup for France, winners of Group B in the round-robin, were Pierre, Marie, Claude and Isabelle.

The hairsplitting edits

1. We need a comma after constituted to complete what we started after Masterpoints. (I’d also delete they are to get rid of the weak verb to be – in this case, are. And to get really hairsplitting about this sentence, some purists like to reserve presently for the meaning soon, so they’d use currently here. Our finished product then becomes Masterpoints, as currently constituted, are meaningless.)

2. The apostrophe in opponents’ suit is correct because bridge is played in teams of two. We’re not talking about an opponent’s suit. But I’d change Watch out for to just Watch for. We watch out for something that will hurt us, but here we are referring to an opportunity.

3. The verb were (plural) does not agree with lineup (singular). The fact that we have four names doesn’t change the grammar. We want The lineup … was.

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