Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT)

Bill Gates may be the nation’s richest man, but he admits no amount of money is likely to make him a professional bridge player.

Gates, who joined about 5,000 other card players Saturday at a national bridge championship in Reno, concedes his card-playing skills are no match for those of professionals.

“I wish I had more time for bridge. I’d be better,” Gates told reporters at the Contract Bridge League’s North American Championship.

Gates was playing with his frequent partner, San Francisco consultant Sharon Osberg.

The league has set an attendance record for the spring championship with more than 15,000 tables, each with four players.

Gates, who played bridge with his parents as a youngster, describes the game as “very relaxing.” He began competing in tournaments in 1999.

“It’s a very logical and a great mental thing,” he said. “It’s a game that you can play at any age.”

Before taking the weekend off to shuffle and deal, Gates spoke at a conference for Microsoft advertising and marketing executives Friday.



SINGER DAY ARRESTED

Singer Howie Day was arrested for apparently locking a woman in a bathroom and breaking another woman’s cell phone after one of the women allegedly refused his sexual advances.

Day, 23, who opened for the band Barenaked Ladies at a concert Wednesday, was charged Friday with misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct in connection with the post-concert incident on his tour bus.

Day was released from jail after posting $850 bail Thursday. He is scheduled for a court appearance on April 1.

According to a criminal complaint, Day allegedly locked a woman in a bathroom on the tour bus after she refused his sexual advance. He then broke the cell phone of another woman trying to call police.

“That was probably wrong of me,” Day told police of breaking the phone. “But I felt violated.”

The singer-songwriter has received critical acclaim with his 2003 album “Stop All the World Now.”



CHAN WEIGHS IN ON TAIWANESE ELECTIONS

Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan said Sunday that Taiwan’s recent presidential election was “the biggest joke in the world.”

President Chen Shui-bian narrowly won the March 20 vote. The opposition wants to nullify the results after Lien Chan lost the election and claimed the vote was marred by irregularities. Thousands protested in the streets for a week after the vote.

“People will talk about it for 100 years,” Chan said at a news conference in Shanghai. “It was a shame. Not so good to look at. I was very upset and couldn’t fall asleep.”

Chan’s comments were aired on Taiwanese television.



JACKO TO GET NOD FROM AFRICAN GROUP

Pop star and accused child molester Michael Jackson is to be honored Thursday for his humanitarian work by the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association, the group said.

“In Africa, Mr. Jackson has financially supported programs to build and equip hospitals, orphanages, homes and schools. He has also financially supported programs relating to child immunization, HIV-AIDS, education and apartheid,” the group said in a statement.

The statement said Jackson was expected to travel to Washington to accept the award.

Jackson, 45, is free on $3 million bail on charges he molested a boy at his Neverland ranch in California.

The internationally known pop star insists he is innocent, and many fans have rallied to his side.



SCOOBY DOOBY DOO, WHO SAW YOU?

The Mystery Inc. ghostbusters might have to cut their budget for Scooby snacks.

“Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” took in $30.7 million in its first weekend, good enough for an easy No. 1 finish but 43 percent below the $54.2 million debut the first “Scooby-Doo” managed in June 2002.

Kevin Smith’s “Jersey Girl,” with Ben Affleck as a widower raising a daughter and a cameo by Jennifer Lopez, debuted at No. 5 with $8.3 million.

It was a solid opening for “Jersey Girl,” which appears to have dodged the taint of last summer’s Affleck-Lopez bomb “Gigli.” In just one weekend, “Jersey Girl” surpassed the $6 million total U.S. gross of Gigli.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” $30.7 million.

2. “The Ladykillers,” $13 million.

3. “The Passion of the Christ,” $12.5 million.

4. “Dawn of the Dead,” $10.3 million.

5. “Jersey Girl,” $8.3 million.

6. “Taking Lives,” $6.5 million.

7. “Starsky & Hutch,” $6.3 million.

8. “Hidalgo,” $5.43 million.

9. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” $5.42 million.

10. “Secret Window,” $5.4 million.



HILTON’S HORSEPLAY LANDS HER ON HER BUM

Paris Hilton can blame her recent run-in with a horse on a wardrobe malfunction.

Instead of wearing, let’s say, cowboy boots – or even sneakers – Hilton, 22, opted for stiletto heels when she went for a ride on a 7-year-old horse during a taping for “The Simple Life 2” at the Bull-It Rodeo in Hernando County, Florida, on March 19. Immediately after saddling up, the hotel heiress was thrown to the ground.

“Paris was wearing these big heels and kicked the horse right into the ribs,” eyewitness Rex Hinkle told Us Weekly’s Hot Stuff.

“If you kicked me in the ribs, I would have done the same.”



MONDAY’S BIRTHDAYS

Former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy is 88. Political commentator John McLaughlin is 77. Former British Prime Minister John Major is 61. Comedian Eric Idle is 61. Rock singer Perry Farrell (Porno for Pyros; Jane’s Addiction) is 45. Tennis player Jennifer Capriati is 28.



(c) 2004, The Miami Herald.

Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.herald.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-03-28-04 1815EST



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