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74 English Bridge October 2019



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


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