Tuesday, 9 November 2010

( On hearing a strange clicking sound, Bigot-Johnson calmly walks up to the microphone. An audience of bridge players wait with bated breath, desperate to hear his advice and guidance on how to become one of the world's best players. )
" Well, here I stand before you....the world's greatest ever bridge player.....about to unfold the secrets of my success. Indeed, to play bridge at the highest level you must attempt the impossible ...... balancing a strong sense of discipline with both creativity and flair. Or to put it another way.... combining intuition and gut feeling with the savvy of a sewer rat.
Possessing an innate, inner wisdom is essential. Not one that comes from the grind of playing bridge week-in week-out, but one that comes as second nature. An ability to sense and foresee danger. An ability to read other players' minds, to read situations, and to read the cards. An ability to position oneself where you instinctively know the exact circumstances when it is right to bid, pass, double, raise, jump, bluff, barrage, and sacrifice.
However, what I have always been proud of is my ability to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of every hand..... and every player....... I encounter. This skill helps me to discover which players are capable of bluffing and taking risks, and which players I can bluff and take risks against. Bridge psychology can be equally as important as card sense. One must have a feel for knowing the odds, the percentages, spotting the opponents' tells, and whether or not cheating is taking place. It's not about just using your eyes and eyes.......it is also about using your nose to sniff out those thin games, slams..... those damn elusive queens..... and all those situations where something is clearly amiss.
Good practice requires one to review problem hands, where the analysis includes not only the way in which they were actually played, but the way they might have been played in different circumstances. Yes, even the slightest change in the circumstances might well require a change of plan or direction, where alternative decisions and choices need to considered and then acted upon. If a gamble has to be taken, then never do so blind. Class players only gamble when the odds are clearly in their favour : when only win-win situations can be envisaged.
What is for certain is that all great players possess an ability to maintain the highest levels of concentration over long periods of time. To sustain that high thin edge of concentration takes supreme mental effort and stamina, none of which should ever be wasted on incorrect, flawed or laboured analysis. Mental processes need to be razor sharp, accurate and precise. Minds therefore need to be like perpetual motion clocks : exquisite examples of quiet perfect efficiency, where breakdown are impossible given the reality of zero friction.
To master bridge you also need to develop a relaxed table presence, quietly but methodically absorbing every little thing that adds to the overall knowledge about the hand in question. Often it is the small details that tell the biggest story. Yes, we all need to focus on what has been bid and played, but we must also focus on the bids that weren't made, or the suits and/or cards that weren't played. This process is a long, patience-sapping discipline, but one which acts as the essential bonding agent........welding together all the other essential skills into a single highly explosive talent. The concept of synergy being present for all to see.
One quality that we should all strive to possess is never allowing smart-arse dick-heads to psyche us out, or to upset our equilibrium. I pride myself on possessing no such psychological weakness. My focus is only to pay attention to the bidding and play, and not the low-level cheating attempts of table louts desperately trying to distract me with their sabre-rattling gestures and comments.
So finally, I have left to wonder that whether on not I have a human brain, in that part of my mental make-up involves arriving at decisions, where the processing of information by-passes the normal circuits of logic and reasoning. These decisions arrive either by unexplained insights and visions, or by a combination of abstract logic and lateral thinking............................"
( Just then Dr. John steps forward and clicks his fingers, whereupon Bigot immediately sinks back into a deep trance. Moving the microphone nearer to his mouth, Dr. John addresses his spell bound audience. )
" Well, there you have it ladies and gentleman .....and a truly wonderful example of the awesome power of hypnotic suggestion. Behold....for on the next click of my fingers this poor wretched man will return to being nothing more than a mundane, frustrated, rank bad club player, who has simply turned up at the annual Walnut Tree Allotment BC 's Christmas cabaret party. Thankfully, he have no recall of what has happened to him here on this stage, and he will never know that for 3 minutes of his life he actually lived his dream........."

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