The 11th Commandment

Do you have a serious bridge partner? Do you play with your spouse? If you do you may have had a bit of a rough time after you have made some mistakes. On occasion people have been know to yell, make rude comments or even throw things at the bridge table.

I haven’t played much with my husband for a long time but recently we played some bridge with friends and I really enjoyed it. I know I haven’t always treated him with the respect he deserves when we play. He thinks he is a wonderful partner but believe me, he gets upset when I make a mistake and he lets me know it. I think that if Moses had been a bridge player we might have had an eleventh commandment: Respect your partner and treat him well at all times. I have been trying hard to follow this commandment but I admit to the occasional relapse.

When I play it is very hard not to get annoyed when I see my partner making a mistake. It is worse when I play online because I can see my partner playing a hand. I see all the hands and I know just what to do. It is hard to watch him go down on a hand that could have been made. Fortunately I can mutter complaints at the computer screen and my partner won’t hear me. The worse type of bad result is one where it is a combined effort. It is not clear who made the mistake and you feel like you have to attack partner if only to defend yourself. It is human nature to get irritated or want to point out errors to your partner.

I have come up with a rule that works really well for me. I don’t discuss anything while we are playing. Even if we have a bidding misunderstanding I don’t try to solve the problem just then. I just keep my mouth closed and try to put the problem out of my head. I try really hard to forget the problem and focus on the next hand. If I am upset I won’t play as well and the same thing for my partner. Besides I don’t want to encourage my opponents.

If you play in competition you may have a group that discusses the hands after the game. I love to do this but even here you need to do it in a respectful way for your partner. If you can’t do this then it is probably not the best time for a discussion of that particular hand.

I have found the best time to work through problems with my partners is at least one day after we played the hand. We can usually have a good constructive discussion then. Anyway the main point to remember is that your partner is your best ally at the bridge table. The opponents are the ones sitting in the other direction, not across from you.

Let your partner(s) know if you have any ideas about how to make partner feel good and have their best game or about how to deal with your own negative emotions. It will always be a challenge for everyone.