Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 21st, 2020


Iain ClimieFebruary 4th, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

Well it is better than yesterday’s slam – East needs to have HK and 4+ clubs or there are one or two very minor chances e.g. HK alone or CJ109 dropping. I recall some friends of mine (a married couple) bemoaning their luck when well-placed at a pairs congress; late on their (very weak) opponents lurched into 6N needing a 3-3 break and 2 finesses. 91% of the time they’d have got a top but not that time.

I think the husband managed to come up with a suitable compliment which wasn’t too petulant e.g. nicely done and can you tell me what lottery numbers you’re choosing this weekend.” I’ve also used “Well done” as opposed to “Well played / defended / bid” as a way of hiding screaming frustration when fixed. The latter relates to opponents doing well and getting a deserved good result about which one can do little; the latter has a hidden subtext of “you lucky “. Surprisingly therapeutic.



Iain ClimieFebruary 4th, 2020 at 1:07 pm

The “expletive deleted” after lucky got removed for some reason (and no I didn’t say what I might actually think)!

Robert LiptonFebruary 4th, 2020 at 1:12 pm

I try to compliment people when they get a good result. Recently I complimented a pair who had bid a grand, noting they had the methods to get there, and it should be a high par. After the results were posted, it turned out it was a top. I went back and congratulated them, and cursed the rest of the room.


Iain ClimieFebruary 4th, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Hi Robert,

I remember a comment from Terence Reese in “Practical Bidding and Practical Play” where he got an inferential count on a hand (but had been misled by a falsecard from one opponent, setting up a useless extra winner). He fell for it, misplayed the crucial suit and then wrote “With murder in my heart I congratulate West on his good defence.”

Courtesy to opponents (and teammates and even partner) is of course part of the civilized game; nobody says you have to feel it inside.



Bobby WolffFebruary 4th, 2020 at 3:52 pm

Hi Iain & Robert,

While the goal in all competitions is to receive congratulations rather than to give, the playing of bridge, lends itself to more up front and personal contact (possibly excluding boxing and wrestling) but more importantly, rather uniquely, represents mind battles rather than physical.

The question then relates to a truthful (no doubt more difficult to overcome the despair of the loser) “bravo” to a well bid, executed and declared (or defended) hand which succeeds, but, in a perfect world, at that time and IMO, should kudos be extended from the vanquished to the conqueror(s).

Of course, there are usually extenuating circumstances, often on other close hands and more to come, but nevertheless what I am trying to emphasize is, especially at a high-level game, the players are good enough to understand the difference between skill and luck, and while Dame Fortune too often shares her involvement, victory may still need a heavy dose of executed knowledge to succeed.

IOW, at least to me, there is a good reason to be a good loser (that phrase has been thought to be a contradiction in terms) when the opponents with both their skill and always expected, proper ethics, have succeeded.

Like most things in life, honesty in feeling should win the accolades, especially when all involved know the individual mindsets at the time.

The reactions at this time will truly distinguish the character of the participants, especially when the “mind” rather than the body is featured, primarily because a mind cannot be seen working, but an athlete’s body can.

When the Bard once wrote something similar to, “We will get the conscience of the King”, he may have been not so vaguely referring, to winning and losing.