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President Bush Comes Out to Play

Whether at tennis or tiddlywinks, `Mr. Smooth' is a fierce competitor - a letter from Washington

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AS spring washes in and out like a warm Washington tide, the nation's First Gamesman - the one who doesn't like broccoli - is coming out to play. Not since the Kennedy clan frolicked through the White House, and probably not even then, has an American president been such an enthusiastic and tireless sport as George Bush.

His zeal is wide-ranging, from the country-club staples of golf and tennis to the good-old-boy traditions of fishing and horseshoes to such previously unrecorded presidential pastimes as Wally Ball and tiddlywinks.

Yes, President Bush plays tiddlywinks.

A famously good sport who is intensely competitive, Mr. Bush likes nothing so much as getting the family together for a good, close game.

A recent weekend guest at Camp David, author George Plimpton, put it this way: ``It was like being invited to a country estate by a very rambunctious, amusing family.''

Check the schedule of this first truly fair-weather weekend:

Tennis. The president paired up with 13-year-old Taylor Plimpton against George Plimpton (Taylor's father) and an accomplished woman tennis player. President loses.

Skeet shooting. President wins, 18 skeets to 7 over Mr. Plimpton.

Horseshoes. Plimpton beat Mr. Bush a year ago at his favorite game, a rare feat. Not to be repeated. President wins.

Wally Ball. In this off-the-walls version of volleyball played in a racquetball court, president wins against a team including three of his sons.

Jogging. Bush jogs before his guests arrive in a rare break from competition.

Tiddlywinks. Small plastic disks are snapped into a cup in a game that is a Bush family tradition.

Pegity. The president took on Taylor Plimpton in an old board game.

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