Perfectly Polite Bridge

By Frank Crocker

The Agony of Defeat! Tips on Handling Uncomfortable Bridge Situations

When things go wrong in aBridge hand some players feel defeated. The following self-deprecating phrases are often heard during Bridge games.

“Oh, I went down two and I  should have made that bid!” “I played the hand very badly and I feel terrible!”. “I lost count of the trump! How could I do that!” “I didn’t draw trump soon enough, what’s the matter with me?” “I didn’t know my three of hearts was a winner! Sorry partner, it was all my fault!”

Players who do not make their contract sometimes overreact to being set. It is bad enough to overbid, but it feels worse when you lose a contract due to an error.

Bridge players of all skills learn to shrug off being set as part of the game. Beginners have a tougher time accepting their errors and mistakes. If the error is taken too seriously, self-loathing can take its toll on enjoyment.

The motto of The Perfectly Polite Bridge Group at the Greenwich YMCA is ‘A new culture for the old game.’ In our group, your partner and your opponents give you support and encouragement. Some players act as if they should be punished for making a mistake. Some Bridge player’s self-confidence and ego are easily shaken. We try to help put errors in perspective by asking:

Was being set in the contract worse than:

  • Knocking the Bidding Box off of the table?
  • Shredding a valuable document you needed to keep?
  • Forgetting to return a call to a close friend?
  • Or we mention countless other small fumbles in Bridge and in life.

When that doesn’t help the situation, this is an effective and fun thing that I use. As the moderator of my group I approach the lamenting player, put my hands on the Bridge table, face the player and say “With the power vested in me, I forgive you for your error and I direct your partner and your opponents to forgive you.” If a moderator isn’t present any player with goodwill and a good sense of humor can absolve an unhappy player.

This actually works! Laughter works! After that preposterous statement, things are more in perspective.

Bridge is a game after all and should be fun. Errors are expected. In fact, if you don’t go down one trick, you are not really trying! In brief, play with people who have goodwill and a healthy competitive attitude.

ACBL Statements on Ethics Seem To Support Our Motto

Actively ethical bridge players do everything they can within the scope of the game to defeat their opponent at the bridge table while making that experience an otherwise enjoyable one for them.

Active ethics enables players to compete on equal terms. In addition, the actively ethical player contributes to the enjoyment of all players by continuously striving to maintain a courteous attitude toward both his opponents and his partner and avoiding any behavior that would make anyone uncomfortable. These social attributes are vital to the game of bridge and duplicate bridge.

The Challenge of Bidding

Once you make the decision to play Bridge you will find playing requires a whole new language. The language of Bridge is bidding and it is essential you and your partner speak the same language in order to win the auction and to make the contract.

Beginners must first learn how to bid and respond. Bids are natural (based on the cards you are holding) or artificial (an agreement/convention about an artificial bid or a set of artificial bids),

In many ways, Bridge is the same as the board game Clue published by Hasbro. Both bidding and playing give the Declarer clues. After the opening lead, all the clues should be noted and evaluated before playing the hand.

  • Did the opponents bid? And Respond? How many points do the opponents have?
  • If applicable, how many trumps do the opponents have?
  • What is the statistical split of the trump or a suit between opponents?
  • Why did opponents lead the card they played?
  • When should you draw trump, when do you not draw trump?
  • In suit contracts, count your losing tricks.
  • In a No Trump contract count your winning tricks
  • Plan a strategy. How many tricks do you need to make your contract?
  • How many sure tricks do you have?
  • How do you get the needed tricks?
    • Ruff (from the short side)
    • Finesse
    • Length (after all trump is  drawn)
    • Promotion

Quite a bit of info isn’t it. Actually, once you get a handle on bidding, it all makes sense.

Bridge Humor

An article in AARP suggests Bridge offers intellectual and social stimulation, sharpens acuity, and strengthens the immune system. And you thought playing Bridge was just for fun!

Helen Sobel Smith (one of the greatest bridge players of the 20th century, male or female) often partnered with Charles Goren. When a woman asked Sobel, in the middle of a hand, ‘How does it feel to play with an expert? The best female player in bridge pointed to Charles Goren and Sobel replied, “Why don’t you ask him?

Source Wikipedia

Alfred Sheinwold wrote “A real test of a bridge player isn’t in keeping out of trouble, but in escaping once he’s in it.-  (Alfred Sheinwold was an American bridge player, administrator, international team captain, and prolific writer).

He also wrote:

“Count your winners and count your losers. If the total doesn’t come to 13, count your cards.”

George Kaufman wrote, “I’d like a review of the bidding with all of the original inflections.” (George Kaufman was an excellent bridge player and Broadway critic).

Eddie Kantar wrote.”Years ago there were only two acceptable reasons for not leading partner’s suit: (1) having no cards in the suit; (2) a death wish. (Eddie Kantar is a professional bridge player, writer, teacher, and member of the Bridge Hall of Fame.

He also wrote:

“Know the difference between a serial killer and a bridge partner? Answer: You can reason with the serial killer.”


Giving a class on how to get rid of losers, I prepare a lesson hand and then ask this lady how she plans to get rid of her losers. She says: I am going to lose them right away so I don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Perfectly Polite Bridge Results

9:45 AM Duplicate Bridge

Room Winners:

  • First Place North/South Winners:  Judy Rein & Joel Rein
  • First Place East/West Winners: Betty Johnson & Rex Brown
  • Second Place North/South: John Friel & Don McCulloch
  • Second Place East/West: Charles Biggs & Dean Goss

Table Winners:

  • Table One: John Friel & Don McCulloch
  • Table Two: Betty Johnson & Rex Brown
  • Table Three: Judy Rein & Joel Rein

12:45 PM Duplicate Bridge

Room Winners:

  • First Place North/South: Kathy Georgas & Elinor Kaplan
  • First Place East/West: John Friel & Don McCulloch
  • Place North/South: Betty Johnson & Rex Brown
  • Second Place East/West: Judith Kallman & Felice Robinov

Table Winners:

    • Table One: Charles Biggs & Dean Goss
    • Table Two: Betty Johnson & Rex Brown
    • Table Three: Judith Kallman & Felice Robinov
    • Table Four: Kathy Georgas & Elinor Kaplan
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