Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 29th, 2020


David SnookSeptember 12th, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Hi Bobby…

Fun hand today… I enjoy your column very much… I look at it every morning as I eat breakfast and play the hand of the day over and over (on paper) until I feel I understand the point you’re trying to make.

I have a question for you.

Some hands require a firm grip on technical play to win, and sometimes one needs to analyze the situation in terms of player psychology, like today’s hand.

How much of good play is technical, in your opinion, and how much is psychological?

Would you say it’s 50/50? Half good technique and half good grasp of player psychology? 75/25?

And how has the years of experience shaped your opinion?

bobbywolffSeptember 13th, 2020 at 2:13 pm

Hi David,

Glad to meet you and welcome to Aces on Bridge.

Your post is indicative of, at the very least, the beginning of a love for a very challenging game, which no one player will ever master, while, at the same time, especially when fortunate enough to play with and against good players,
will surprise you by its enormous scope of what will rightfully be thought to be, a magnificent competition, one that will continue to grow in stature until you will agree that it is overall, the best mind game ever conceived.

Now to attempt to answer your consistent excellent questions, to which I’ll be guessing, but only relying on my 75 years of experience,
to hopefully at least, close to being on target.

First, there is a considerable to overwhelming difference between teeing it up with worthy opponents, rather than relative social to non-serious ones who only play for fun or just bragging rights. Your post has convinced me that, if asked, yes would be your preference.

Technical play is incredibly necessary, since to concede that advantage to the opposing partnership is equivalent in baseball as equal, for a batter, to start each bat with two strikes.

However, the good news is that by your post, I would expect you in record time, if not already, to be well on your way to succeeding, say 75%+, to reach a substantial goal, with the rest of the way, well in sight, depending if you are able to play against decent and formidable competition and, important, select a partner who will have similar goals, with at least well above average arithmetical potential.

From there and what you ask, after a good start, the grasp of player psychology (to use your words) becomes 90%+ in determining your then rating, with no ceiling in search of the remaining 10% and up to you how quickly (if successful) it will take.

However, that psychological factor has an unbelievably wide range of bridge acumen, where and when you get there, will include in lay terms,everything, including the kitchen sink, to the drums of overbidding and/or underbidding against some opponents, but not others, deciding on opening leads and experimenting with partner about overall bidding system, select conventions to play, types of legal signals, mind and body habits before playing, and a thorough, if time permits, discussion about opponents, both their strengths, weaknesses and, most important, their tendencies.

Many rules and truisims about bridge show up while growing up to be an adult, much like other competitions including physical as well as mental, which, particularly in our favorite mind sport, are ever present and become an incredible factor, together with partner and/or his idiosyncrsicies,, in helping determine the results we seek.

Without trying to overly dramatize your responsibility to yourself, partner and the game itself, yes, our love will be strong enough to warrant these changing habits, but sometimes life itself, doesn’t allow all or even perhaps most of the above concentration, I still will recommend giving it a try, since its rewards extend much more than just the game itself. The game itself is now being taught in all of China’s overall school system (200+ million students) and in eleven countries in Europe for credit scholastically, it is sad (to me beyond belief) that the USA has not decided (forgive me) to follow suit.

Yes, your questions struck a nerve, but, whatever your future brings, good luck and, if possible, do not be a stranger.

If not,, you’ll meet a variety of informative bridge lovers from all over the world, each in his or her own way, who will likely post worthwhile questions, with others offering their own experiences.

Stay well and safe!

David SnookSeptember 16th, 2020 at 8:41 pm

Thank you so much for your insight, Bobby!

I appreciate your generosity in sharing your perspective.

Yes, I will not a stranger. I love your column and do come by every day to see what’s on the menu, so to speak…