74 English Bridge October 2019 www.ebu.co.uk
HOW TO PLAY BRIDGE
n interviewer once asked a woman who had
achieved a great deal in her life, 'How did
you manage to achieve what you did?' Her
response was 'I never learned to play bridge'
If you decide to ignore that woman's warning and
play bridge, now or in the future, I'm going to share
with you, from my own experience, some tips on:
D how to play bridge;
D how to enjoy playing bridge;
D and most importantly, how to survive playing
The first and the most important consideration is
In bridge you must play with a partner.
'Play' is an interesting description and not always
a valid one. Take great care in your choice of
It's very tempting to play with a real life partner.
But this can be dangerous. Very dangerous, as the
several spouses who have been murdered during or
after a bridge game, have learnt to their cost.
It can, and does, work playing with a real life
partner. One way this appears to work is if one
person in the partnership is a sadist and the other a
Bear in mind that you cannot not communicate.
Facial expressions, voice tone and body language
will all be communicating messages to your partner.
If you want to keep a real life partnership going,
or stay friends, or stay alive, be very aware of what
you are communicating across the table.
A useful rule to apply is 'What happens at the
table, stays at the table' - Don't take it home. Doing
so could be very bad for your health!
Second, Jargon. There's lots of jargon in bridge.
Terms like 'ruff', 'finesse', 'endplay'. Wow, playing
bridge can be like speaking another language! A tip
is to translate the jargon into something more
The game bonus, which is awarded for accurate
bidding, is often forgotten by novice bridge players.
Calling it a 'Brucie bonus' makes it much more
Hands which contain lots of high card points -
for the non-bridge players, this is 13 cards which are
aces, kings, queens and jacks - have special bids that
need to be remembered. How about describing such
hands as 'real stonkers?'
Given there is so much jargon, it's wise to adopt
the approach KISS, which is most usually
understood as 'Keep it simple stupid.'
Given your relationship, or planned relationship
with your partner, you might prefer to use instead
'Keep it Simple Sweetheart'.
Talking about KISS, one way to deal with a
partner who's moaning, or pulling a face at you
across the table, is to blow a kiss at him or her.
Now, this approach will certainly have an impact.
However, take care, as it may lead to another bit of
bridge jargon - a 'squeeze'!
Bridge is a mind game. Literally. Your state of
mind will affect yourself and the people you play
with and against.
My final suggestions are about how to use your
mind to your advantage.
D First, play either stone cold sober or blind drunk.
Never in between. Stone cold sober and you're
more likely to play effectively. Blind drunk and
you won't care how you play. In between, and you
get the worst of both worlds, still caring about
your performance, yet not having the clarity of
thought to perform well.
D Second, keep a poker face. Keep hidden what you
are thinking and feeling about what's going on at
the bridge table, so you are not giving away
information that could be useful to others. This is
going to be much more difficult to achieve if
you're playing drunk than if playing sober, but
hey, if you're playing drunk you won't care much
about your performance!
by Krista Powell Edwards