Bridge Over Troubled Wat….

I tell people who ask that I’ve been playing bridge for about five years which isn’t quite true, but usually makes me looks good. If I play well people will think that I’m smart for someone playing only five years; if I play lousy, people will be more prone to forgive me my lapses.

I don’t know exactly what year I started playing bridge but due to me working full time in Montreal and not having a partner there it is true that I haven’t played at a club all that much; some while studying administration between 2010 and 2012 and then last year when I stopped working and began living in the country full time.

I play twice a week; one in Sutton close to where I live, the other in Cowansville, about a half-hour drive away.

That is with people; I also have close to half a dozen apps on my IPad where I play online, against people or a robot, and it’s usually a very humbling experience how poorly I fare against them.

Yesterday, while driving home from Cowansville, I played music to soothe my troubled soul; the bridge session had been unkind to me, which is another way of saying I played poorly.

Just a few weeks ago I was riding high with session after session finishing first or second out of 11 or 12 tables.

The bridge players I know are very philosophical about finishing either poorly or finishing well in bridge. They might say, “Oh, I was lucky.” “We had some good cards.” They may or may not feel great about their playing but wish to downplay to others how things turn out.

For good reason. Except for a few very good and consistently good players, many of my friends see-saw from good to middling to poor results week in and week out.

Bridge is like that. If it were more straightforward, maybe it wouldn’t be so popular.

And bridge can be cruel. A mistake here or there, a lapse in thinking clearly, poor memory, mental tiredness, or overconfidence can result in a humiliating defeat. You have to sit there helplessly before three other people (your partner and the opposition) and watch as you lose trick after trick. From one not-so-little mistake or one overlooked fact!

Then you all compare your score with other teams’ scores only to find out that they have made their contracts, or have surpassed it, where you couldn’t get your head around the way to do so. Was it so obvious? Not to you, apparently.

I’ve heard from my father-in-law, a bridge Life Master, that certain clubs in Montreal are ruthless and cutthroat, meaning partners can turn on each other for the kind of mistakes, or less egregious ones, I made with regularity yesterday.

I played with Morty once and saw partners who were quite upset with each other. It was embarrassing.

'Have you been playing football again? No, bridge.'

I don’t need this level of competitiveness, even though I am very competitive and love to win. I like it that where I play people are very cordial with each other, know each other personally, and are very forgiving.

Maybe even more forgiving than me; I’ve gone through a number of partners who drove me crazy. The two that I have for now I’m happy with, if only for the reason that they don’t hem and haw too much while playing. Just put down your card, I say. It might be the wrong one but don’t make a big thing about it. Try to learn from you mistakes, if possible.

The most often heard expression in bridge? “I should have…”

The best thing about bridge is that with all the playing that I do in person and online, it is possible to say that slowly, very slowly, I am learning a few things that make me think (I pray that I’m right!!!) I might be improving…

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