The game's still played by candlelightduring various social events where influential Washingtonians come together (but not too close, it's a puritanical town) to gossip and exchange ploys. No one is a guest or host without a purpose writes the author, a former magazine editor, who crashed the life for six months and describes it all with the aplomb of a shoe salesman presented at Court. Administrations come and go -- and so too their appointees -- but real and continuing power remains with the capital's rooted residents such as Averell Harriman (can anyone imagine him accepting a job in Cleveland?), Mrs. Dean Acheson, Alice Longworth Roosevelt, etc.; lobbyists and lawyers; party givers (a successor worthy of Pearl Mesta has yet to surface); journalists; ""Cave Dwellers"" of the Social Register. Place is important (Georgetown and McLean are most acceptable, Alexandria is more than miles out of the running); so are clubs (Metropolitan, Cosmos, Burning Tree) and where one winters (leaving town is a tip-off that you're no longer ""in"" enough to stay around for the political season). Essentially the trivia Barbara Howar has already told us laughing all the way -- but less personal and just about as enlightening as a congressional newsletter to the constituents.