Game, set and match to you

中国日报网 2017-04-28 11:24



Game, set and match to youReader question:

Please explain this sentence: Game, set and match to you!

My comments:

In other words, you won – and your victory is total and complete. Congratulations!

“Game, match, set”, you see, is what commentators describe the conclusion of a tennis match. Let me take a few minutes to explain.

A typical tennis match is consisted of three or five sets. Let’s take a three-set match for example. This is also called best-of-three, meaning he or she who wins two out of three sets wins the match.

Now, each set has 6 games with each game consisting of 4 points. Without going into detail, let’s just say that you are a good player and a much better player than your opponent. I mean, you win every point. At the end of a game, you’ll hear the umpire (who officiates the match) call out “Game!” to signal and signify that the game is over and you win.

You’re very good, of course and you win another five games to run your game score to 6-0 and set score 1-0. At the end of the last point won here, the umpire or chair umpire because he or she sits perched up in a high chair overlooking the playing field will shout out: Game, and Set!

Again, to say you win the game and then the set.

You’re very good indeed and you run off another six straight games to win the second set 6-0 and, this time, you hear the umpire say: “Game. Set and match!”

This means you’ve won the point for the game, the second set and therefore the match as a whole.

By winning by the remarkable margin of 6-0, 6-0, you’ve also forced your opponent to eat two bagels.

Two bagels?

Well, never mind that. I don’t mind inflating your ego and make you feel really good but I won’t keep piling on your poor opponent. Let’s just say you’re really good. You won and did it convincingly. You dominated. So all (sorts of) kudos to you!

See, essentially, that is what it means when someone says: “Game, set and match to you.” It’s usually after you’ve accomplished something and done it with flair and in style.

All right, here are media examples:

1. I have been married for 15 years and I think things have gone pretty well. We have four perfectly acceptable children, we all get along OK, and as husbands go, I’m not a bad lot. I’m loyal, I recognise my wife as a superior human being and I even have the odd moment of unselfishness. (I expect such moments to be verbally recognised and physically rewarded.) My wife stays at home to look after the children because returning to the teaching job she loved was made impossible by the incompatibility of teacher's pay and the cost of childcare. The other option – of me becoming a househusband – was categorically not on the table. I don't mind a bit of gentle hoovering, but I do mind babies. They’re like drunks: incomprehensible, unreasonable and prone to vomit on you. Anyway she loves it, doesn’t she? Well, that’s what I had assumed, until an incident a couple of weeks ago that shocked my smug, complacent, delusional self to the core.

I see a lot of modern and contemporary art; it’s a pretty fundamental part of my job. The vast majority of work I see I like on some level or another. Even the stuff I don’t like, I find interesting simply by dint of it existing and being revered enough to find itself in a museum or gallery; a sort of sign of the times. On the whole though, most art doesn’t have an immediate emotional impact on me in the same way as, say, a David Lynch movie or an Arsenal football match does.

Art and emotion tends to be a slow burn, built up over a period of time as I get to know and really appreciate the artist and their work. In fact, I would go as far to say that the only time I have been knocked sideways by a piece of art was when I first encountered the work of Willem de Kooning in my early 20s. Of course, when I saw Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I was completely blown away, but I already knew what to expect and the sensation was more like meeting your hero in the flesh. So when I strolled along to see a retrospective of the work of the 96-year-old French/American sculptor Louise Bourgeois, I was looking forward to a cerebral hour of gentle perusing and mulling on her gigantic spiders and famous phalluses. I will never forget what happened next.

I was the victim of a brutal emotional mugging. It was a comprehensive assault on my sense of wellbeing, a bit like the tragic moment when you walk into work looking forward to the challenges of the week ahead, only to be told you have been sacked. The attack isn't physical but your reaction is. I was shaking, on the verge of tears and genuinely frightened. I had gone into the exhibition expecting to see some big sculptures, but it was a group of small paintings that did the damage.

The paintings formed part of a series called Femme Maison that were made by Bourgeois from 1945–47, six years after moving to New York from her native France. By this time, she was married to an American art historian called Robert Goldwater and had three children (the first of which was adopted). Goldwater was a good bloke – a loving husband and a source of intellectual companionship for Bourgeois – and she adored her children. But that didn’t stop her from making a set of paintings that are so filled with rage, fear and frustration that, for the first time in my life, I began to understand what it must be like to be a woman. To have to accept that the world's view is male and all the assumptions that come with it, such as: everything you do and say is seen and judged through the prism of your sexuality, that the expectation is you will fulfil the multiple roles of mother, housekeeper, companion, worker and lover with deference and gratitude, and that men – lazy, selfish, conceited men – are not forced to wear the same, or any other straightjacket. Bourgeois’s genius is that she is able to put all this across with some small paintings that are so simple they are almost naive.

All the Femme Maison (literally house woman/housewife) paintings share the same idea. In each one, a woman has a house covering her head, below which her naked body protrudes. She thinks she is safe and secure in her domestic prison, because that is all she can see around her. She has no idea that she is flashing her genitals to all and sundry, more vulnerable than ever. It’s the stuff of nightmares where you are publicly exposed and shamed. These paintings succinctly sum up the struggle of every woman and their destiny to live with the responsibilities and constrictions of trying to maintain the balance of wife, mother and housekeeper while trying to retain a semblance of individuality in such sapping domestic circumstances. The simplicity of the paintings adds to the sense of entrapment; there wasn’t the time for anything more studied or crafted.

These works have been related back to the surrealist movement that began in the 1920s with artists such as René Magritte, where he juxtaposed two seemingly incongruous objects or situations in order to make a point. Maybe they are, she certainly knew Marcel Duchamp and André Breton, the leaders of the movement, very well. But I'm not so sure. I think her work is much more closely aligned to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, another woman who found out early what a letdown men can be. Both Bourgeois and Kahlo created warts-and-all autobiographical art, something that had never been done by women before. They exposed themselves to expose the truth, a daunting and dangerous thing to do, which requires immense courage. An approach to making art that can be seen most obviously today in the work of Tracey Emin, another person whose art, I suspect, will prove to be just as important in years to come.

Bourgeois’ Femme Maison paintings scream that women are put upon, jailed, abused and patronised. Up until seeing them I had thought I was a decent, caring husband – now I know I’m just like the rest, a chauvinistic bore. I rang my wife and mumbled some inadequate apology. She was a little taken aback, but not half as taken aback as I had been. Bourgeois made a note in her diary in 1980 that read: “The only access we have to our volcanic unconscious and to the profound motives for our actions and reactions is through shocks of our encounters with specific people.” I should coco, Louise. Game, set and match to you.

- My life in art: The day Bourgeois moved me to tears, by Will Compertz, October 8, 2008.

2. Reasonable people know they have to do everything possible to make sure what they put in their bodies is safe and legal. If it is not, they know the risks and the likely consequences. It's a chance we all take occasionally.

Elite athletes know more than the average person about staying healthy. Sportspeople understand – or at least they should – that millions of fans, billions in sponsorship and the integrity of their code depends on them fulfilling a higher than normal duty to know what they consume.

Athletes know by now that the risks and consequences of doping are great. They know that due diligence is required before consuming anything. They know they cannot rely on the excuse “I didn’t know”. And when it comes down to it, as confessed drug cheat Maria Sharapova said this week, “at the end of the day, anything you do is about you”.

That should be game set and match against the Siberian-born tennis player. She says that in 2006 her family doctor prescribed her the cardiac treatment drug meldonium (sold online as meldronate across Eastern Europe). “I was getting sick a lot, was getting the flu every couple of months,” she says. “I had irregular (electrocardiogram heart test results) as well as indications of diabetes, with a family history of diabetes.”

The packaging says meldronate should be taken for four to six weeks at a time, for two to three times a year. She took it for 10 years: “It made me healthy and that’s why I continued to take it.”

The World Anti-Drug Agency told athletes last September that meldonium was being banned because some used it as performance enhancer. It improves oxygen uptake and as such aids recovery. Sharapova did not open the email with that notice and says she did not see the list of substances banned from January 1. Her support staff either didn't look or didn't tell. Yet they all must have known the drug the Florida-based player was taking was not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration because she had to make special arrangements to access supply.

Meldonium had been implicated in Russian athletic doping, too. A peer-reviewed study of the 2015 European Games in Azerbaijan found 13 winners or medallists were taking meldonium. A further 66 athletes tested positive.

Four weeks after the global sports ban on meldonium began on January 1 this year, Sharapova was caught in a drug test at the Australian Open.

- Game, set and match against dope cheat Sharapova, March 12, 2016.

3. When a woman’s daughter asked her to write a letter explaining to the school why she was late, she had a pretty original response.

She wrote the letter as requested – but in the note, Nicole Poppic blamed her 14-year-old daughter’s lateness on ‘teenage-ism’.

‘Cara is tardy this morning as a result of a condition known as teenage-ism,’ Nicole, a 34-year-old from California, wrote.

‘Adolescents across our great nation are afflicted, and there is no known cure.

‘Symptoms are multitudinous, but this particular morning, she suffered from an inability to remove herself from her bed, and also felt the need to talk back to her birth-giver.

‘She seems to be recovering her senses after watching her cell phone fly out the car window. Please call me if there is another flare-up.’

The note, which Nicole shared on Facebook, was such a massive hit with parents online that it was shared more than 32,000 times.

As a teacher and a mom, well played, game-set match to you!’ one commenter wrote. Another added: ‘I love this, I need to keep this in mind for when my little one gets older.’

- Mother blames ‘teenageism’ for daughter being late for school,, September 27, 2016.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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