I'm on the verge of giving up this game. Why ? Well, I'm an expert for heaven's sake, and yet I'm forever coming second to Mr. and Mrs. Bloody Mediocre.
Now don't get me wrong for this article is not a sour grape diatribe about me just missing out on glory in numerous regional congresses and national competitions, to undeserving, anonymous, moderate ability, ludicrously lucky, jammy toe-rags.....Oh no....This article is about why bridge should never be classified as a true sport.
Not only is the game never played on a level playing field, but players half my calibre can very often succeed, leaving us top class players to question how could this happen. This phenomenon would never happen in any other sport.
Firstly, only in the world of bridge can one find players of all ability levels permitted to enter a premier competition. Perversely, this huge gulf in ability enables moderate players to find themselves catapulted to the top tables by virtue of meeting bus loads of rabbits early doors. Sometimes these extremely average players can even walk away with first prize, if the fickle hand of fate provides them with favourable draws against other non-experts pairs during the final rounds of the competition. This situation would never happen in any other sport.
However, my main point is this. In bridge the luck element is immense. It's not how well a pair does on a particular hand, the score they get depends on what the field is doing. Why just the other day my partner and I defended like trojans a 2S contract taking it one off for a top...or so we thought. But no....we met, of course, a timid pair of gross under-bidders. The field score was 4S doubled minus 1 or 2. So those tossers got a top by virtue of rank bad bidding and inept declarer play.
Indeed, the fact remains that in any pairs event, no pair will ever share the same experience as the others. Yes, a North/South pair will pick up and play the same hands as all the other pairs in their direction.....but different boards against different opponents. Luck might well determine that the mundane, wooden-headed pairs will meet the experts on boards destined to be flat, such as 3NT + 2 scores, because the defence only have 2 Aces to cash. But when the boards are particularly swingy, lo and behold they meet numpties, who will gift them unsolicited tops. And if that's not enough, then Lady Luck contrives to allow these unknown Janets and Johns to miss out altogether some extremely strong East/West pairs in their section. So by taking all these factors together, these undeserving luck merchants end up walking on water, having a charmed life, and submitting impressive scorecards.......without doing anything of any note.
And one other point is worthy of a mention. Sometimes the cards are all in favour of one direction. This could result in par players having hands of either no significance, or of no difficulty in terms of bidding or play. Their fate is determined by how the opposition set about their problematic holdings. Certainly, both experts and rabbits may over-bid on hands destined to fail, whilst rabbits also have a tendency to underbid or get complacent about over-tricks. On too many boards fortuitous tops are handed out willy-nilly fashion to these ordinary Joes.
On a final note, I would like to come back to my first point. In most sports it is only the best that are allowed to compete in a major competition, but if bridge continues to open its doors allowing the numpties to completely saturate the field.....then the potential for distorted outcomes becomes that much greater. And on that basis alone bridge should never lay claim to being a proper sport.