Stress at the Bridge table
(Courtesy of Bob Crosby)
Peter Jones once played with a partner when it was their turn to play, said take me to the hospital. This is not a good way to handle stress at the Bridge table. Medical people says there are two types of stress good & bad. Good stress actually enhances your performance and concentration. Trained athletes use good stress to enhance their concentration to achieve peak performance. You are playing Bridge at a high level because you are supposed to enjoy the challenge of playing against top level players in your chosen sport/hobby. If the thought of this, induces bad stress then you should not be playing.
In Bridge, I borrow some lessons from golf in handling golf stress. Taking deep breaths and let oxygen work its wonders with the brain if you feel yourself tightening up. Also what helps in dealing with stress at the bridge table is to smell the flowers along the way. In other words, relax and enjoy yourself. In order to have a stress free session, partner has to be on your side. No bad comments, no facial expressions ( thank goodness for screens ) and no expressions of dissatisfaction when things go wrong. In every session there will be ups & downs. Live with that fact. The power of positive thinking also works at the Bridge table. The glass is half full is the better way of playing bridge. Try humour and praise for partner and see if that works to relieve stress.
Also do not be a worry wart. We all have the capability of analyzing hands. We can see that after we were defending 3 that somehow if we had got into the auction we could have made 4 with two finesses and a end play. Forget about that. It induces bad stress and wears you out. All of a sudden a cow flies by and you make a 10 imp blunder yourself. If partner makes an error, do not have that induce an error in your own play. Believe that partner is allowed a blunder once in a while.
Result merchanting is the worlds worst inducer of bad stress. Bridge is a game of probabilities. The present hand is just one instance of a number of possible statistical outcomes. How can we take this one outcome (result) to be statistically valid over the long run ?. When arguments are made using just this one result to validate the argument it is fallacious to say the least. For one result on a hand, expert players can list a dozen others to support an argument the other way. It is a losing battle and a player who is labeled a result merchant is just a bad stress inducer. Bad results can be the result of a hand not fitting the system, a good tactical bid by the opposition or just plain bad luck. Partners decision was probably very good in the series of hands that this hand could have been given the auction. Result merchanting because the decision did not fit this particular hand is lame. Remember, when you are having bad luck, the opponents are also having bad luck at the other table. Do not let a series of bad outcomes make you pessimistic and throw you off your game. Remember that your partners are thinking they are having a hell of a game with their positive cards. Do not spoil their good set.
Klimo, in discussing garbage imps, brings up the point do not make bad things worse. Salvage what you can out of a bad round by not losing your concentration. Bad luck and good luck is supposed to even out in the long run. Remember that fact and optimism should get you through a bad round. A good partnership handles bad cards well and do not try to single handedly try to get their bad results back. Normally this just makes things worse