Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 17th, 2021


Iain ClimieMay 31st, 2021 at 9:07 am

Hi Bobby,

Fascinating hand but Par contests dropped out of fashion many years ago. Why was that? Did it get too difficult to set the hands, perhaps? Maybe the idea could be revived with IMP scoring for simultaneous pairs or similar.



PS Can I be impertinent? Do you think you would have got this at the table if you’d beenplaying in such a contest? I suspect you would have.

bobbywolffMay 31st, 2021 at 1:39 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, par contests, in long ago days, were much more prevalent, particularly among mostly younger lads but some lassies, about to become bridge addicts,

Back in the day, par contests decided college championships, at least in the USA.

However, also yes, they have faded away, likely because the themes got old, and the process
only engaging great interest from basically bridge intellectuals, categorized, but not entirely, by ones who excelled at that type of thinking.

However, at least at times, were void in bridge psychology, to others and I, a more necessary factor, to consistently win at the table, when equals dueled.

To not so immodestly directly answer your question, yes, I think I would have succeeded, but so would many,, but possibly only because the choices were so restricted, together with both the bidding and opening lead follow by 3rd chair,so revealing, as to narrow down the avenue of success to an almost certainty.

However, the above can and will be scored up correctly by many bridge lovers as long as they have developed the necessary disciplined thinking which goes along with the underestimated value of experience which comes along with loving bridge and having the time in life to set one’s mind to it.

Finally in speaking, bridge itself, at least while competing in fact and overall, is merely a contest involving logic, especially only playing and defending, with only a few variations, allowing better strategy and stronger and more inclusive bidding systems, to differentiate winners from not so, while discussing only the top.

Jeff SMay 31st, 2021 at 8:22 pm

Hi Bobby and Iain,

Could another reason these contests fell out of style be that players came to view a standard bridge tournament as more being more likely to have the best players emerge on top?

That may sound a little odd, but Bobby has commented many times about the need to stay utterly focused on every hand because – unlike a bridge column where you know there is a problem to be solved – there is no “alarm bell” at the table to let you know that now is the time to concentrate. It seems like in a Par contest, players might find it easier to stay focused because the alarm bell is clanging on every hand.

bobbywolffJune 1st, 2021 at 2:49 am

Hi Jeff S,

No doubt players always stay focused while in a par contest, but in truth, most (the best) stay more so when playing an important match, since there is absolutely no substitute for winning, especially when competing against peers.

Also a par contest concentrates on a specific point, difficult, but able to be solved, but when being matched up against top players, there may not, and most times are not, a winning solution for one side or the other.

Either of the two are usually wonderful learning experiences and I, of course, strongly recommend both. but IMO defeating a worthy opponent at bridge, outranks the theory associated with planned dealing.

However, either competition requires total focus, a discipline more associated with bridge, at least to me, than any other. However surgeons may have a different opinion.

Jeff SJune 1st, 2021 at 5:51 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the response and you made the point I was aiming for more clearly than I did. It seems like it is easier to stay focused in the Par contest because you KNOW there is a solution. In a normal tournament, I suspect that part of what makes the best players the best players is the ability to stay focused even on hands where there is no alarm bell ringing. On many of those hands, it may not matter if focus slips, but on some it will matter very much and without that bell, the player needs the discipline not to let his mind wander when it matters.

On the other hand, Par contests are undeniably FUN, right? So, bring ’em back.