One of the most common symptoms of post middle-aged bridge players is the growing belief that everything around them is falling apart, with bridge of course the sole focus of their concerns. As their bodies and brains begin to falter, they experience what we psycho-therapists call the post 50 existential crisis.
What was once a world of pure joy and great excitement, bridge has now become a living nightmare which leaves them completely bereft and disappointed. Their results rarely get above average and nothing ever seems to go their way. As they see their reputation crumbling away to that of a numpty, self doubt and self loathing creep in. They look forlornly at the up and coming younger players, who seem to toy with them like master puppeteers pulling sharply at their strings.
One would assume that victims with this condition would be asking themselves the big questions like " why am I still bothering to play this game ? " and " why can't my vast experience and bridge knowledge deliver good results ? " ...... but no. The awful reality is that they become totally preoccupied and obsessed by the little things. My cards are grubby. My partner's finger strumming is doing my head in. Why is that opponent taking an age to bid? I'm not happy with the way the TD ruled against us. The beer served here is always luke warm. Tragically, acute symptoms of the existential crisis include disturbing delusions, such as everyone in this damn club is a cheat, and I know there are members here who are really out to get me.
Yet no matter how extreme their symptoms the diagnosis is basically the same : their game of bridge , like life itself, has started to fall apart. They perceive the tiny cracks in their bidding and play as mile wide chasms. Every mistake consolidates their belief their game has gone to pieces, which of course converts a delusion into a self-fulfilling prophecy, because as the mistakes pile up the panic sets in. Once players afflicted with this disorder reach that point where they see their fading bridge status sliding irreversibly down hill into a pit of faceless non-entities , the crisis may well result in attempted suicides.
When players allow bridge to become their sole focus of their existence , only to believe there's nothing left to experience other than heartache and pain , it is no wonder they completely crack up .....leaving me and my colleagues with a hopeless task of trying to put these numpty humpty dumpties back together again .