Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Whenever players sit down for the first time with each other, the new partnership always starts out as a bed of roses. Both are careful not to tread on any toes or do anything that might jeopardise a perfect start. Each looks at the other through rose tinted glasses. Every effort is given to promote harmony and partnership well being. Best behaviour from the word " go " becomes a must, if first impressions are to turn out as the right ones.
Each partner therefore perceives the other like a Saltzburg twig, glistening in the light with its delicate cover of beautiful salt crystals. And not surprisingly, when we have something of beauty the Human Condition makes us treat it with respect, in the same way we would if blessed with a new car. Such an acquisition necessitates for every proud owner a complete change of habits : safe parking, new smell preservation, rubbish free interior, scratch paranoia, regular cleaning and paintwork buffing, and empty road driving. Likewise, bridge players also tend to operate in this over-protective way with any new partners. Indeed, when this phenomenon takes hold, a player automatically adapts his/her behaviour accordingly:
- displaying extreme politeness and bonhomie at all times
- offering kind words of support and comfort
- complete adherence too the agreed system card
- disciplined bidding with no flights of fancy
- honesty in owning up to mistakes
- accepting mishaps, and partner's mistakes, with genuine sympathy and forgiveness
- laughing off bad results
However, this phenomenon is very short lived, as with the beauty of the Saltzburg twig. As the crystals drop off one by one, the ugly twig from within is revealed.....and then of course reviled. As a player exposes his weaknesses and faults, a truer picture of who he really is begins to emerge, enticing the other to make critical observations. A vicious circle then quickly develops, where a few criticisms by one player sees the dozens of salt crystals dropping from his twig, revealing many of his flaws and personal short-comings in a single act. These shocking revelations will be seized upon by the other, who will retaliate with even more venom. Within weeks the both players are reduced to two ugly twigs with not a single crystal left between them. The beasts from within have been let loose. The partnership honeymoon is well and truly over. Familiarity yet again has bred utter contempt. Divorce looks inevitable. And so both players will then go their separate ways looking for new partners, where the phenomenon will once again resurface. Such is the bizarre world of bridge.

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