This syndrome, originally associated with mothers who have seen their children leave home, is the name given to a psychological condition that can also affect mediocre to average bridge players. The symptoms always occur around the time that one, or more, of their partners sever their long-standing arrangements to play with them. Victims with this syndrome, who then encounter sudden and unexpected departures, quickly succumb to feelings of being abandoned, and bouts of depression.
" Empty nest " is not a term that you will find in many medical text books, but syndrome has became a useful label to encapsulate the feelings of sadness, loss, rejection and inadequacy that sufferers experience. Being snubbed by partners who no longer wish to play with them causes their levels of self-esteem to reach new lows.
Strangely, the syndrome tends to rear its head around autumn time, when for most bridge clubs the new calendar year starts. This is when there are fresh rounds of club competitions, plus the arrival of both local and regional league fixtures. The symptoms become even more severe when victims see their ex-partners setting up new relationships with each other. This gives a clear signal to them that anyone but them offers improved chances at being successful at the game. This all too often results in the painful acknowledgement that their useful bridge lives have effectively ended. However, some will either fall back on unsuspecting new beginners to take under their wings as partners, while others seek temporary solace from forming partnerships with fellow sufferers. Many will turn to anti-depressants, but the sight of seeing so many ex-partners performing so much better at the game, with huge smiles on their faces, quickly negates the beneficial effects of these drugs.