The privilege by which writers and editors decorate their offices with items of personal and obscure significance has long been a tradition in the trade. Even in quarters of as recent vintage as those SPORTS ILLUSTRATED occupies within the new Time & Life Building the walls already reflect the individual character of the persons stationed nearest to them. Thus this basset hound now sets the tone in Staff Writer Jack Olsen's room.
Olsen's contributions to this magazine have covered football, baseball, water polo, billiards and, only three weeks ago, the revolutionary electric pistol. But during recent months Olsen's major effort has been a book, The Mad World of Bridge. Published this week by Holt, Rinehart and Winston ($3.95), it suggested our cover and is the source of Olsen's account in this issue of the often wondrous behavior of the geniuses of bridge.
Although he has played a kind of bridge for most of his 34 years, Olsen's interest in the game took on new proportions a couple of years ago when, as a TIME correspondent, he began to gather material for a cover story on Charles Goren. Meeting Goren and a number of other bridge titans, Olsen was surprised to find many of them "pleasantly nutty" and involved not so much in what until then he had regarded as a game as in a way of life like none he had seen before.
The result Olsen describes as an "unauthorized biography of bridge," a work in which he received the unstinting cooperation of Goren himself, who also wrote the introduction. The book, says Goren, manages "to show how bridge has been the real cause of murders, assaults, divorces, intrigues, blackmail and just plain insanity."
Which brings us back to the basset hound. "It is," according to Olsen, "a true and excellent likeness of the author at work on The Mad World."
And it may indeed give you an idea of what to expect when you read Jack Olsen on bridge. But it doesn't really look like Olsen. He looks like this.