Tuesday, 17 June 2014

BRIDGE BULLIES : THEIR MODUS OPERANDI ........( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )

Any kind of psychological and emotional battering through verbal abuse kills the human spirit . It cripples the victim's self-esteem and sense of worth. In my opinion it is the major reason why so people who take up the game quickly leave it behind.
Bullies are usually masters of this evil art, and excellent actors. To those who are not witness to their despicable antics , a perpetrator often appears as " a wonderful person " or a " really friendly guy ". Little do they know how cruel and spiteful the bully can be when results do not go his way.
Indeed, bullies are highly skilled in brow beating errant and hapless partners , using a multitude of ways to show disapproval and to vent their anger , as the following list reveals :

1. Withholding : not speaking to partner when he is angry. Being snubbed or ignored by a wall of scornful silence speaks volumes about the extent of his contempt and displeasure  
2. Countering : whatever view or opinion partner makes ,  the bully will reject it out of hand and make counterclaims of his own. Countering will often include condemnation and criticism of the victim's inadequate grasp and understanding of the game
3. Ridicule : a barrage of comments designed to make the victim feel extremely ashamed and embarrassed in front of stunned opponents and onlookers. If ever brought to task over his hurtful remarks,  the stock reply is always the same : " I was only joking " . The truth, however , is that the intent was malicious.
4. Sidestepping : bullies are quick to change topics whenever their decisions are open to question or scrutiny   
5. Accusing and blaming : the blame game is what bullies are expert at winning. No matter what mistakes they make at the table, partners mistakes were far worse , often being the reason behind theirs
6. Trivialising: here the bully cannot counter partner's observations or criticisms , and so therefore he feels compelled to trivialise them as being of no relevance or significance
7. Undermining : by constantly belittling partner's ability the bully uses statements like " You wouldn't understand " or " There's no point trying to explain to you..." . The object of this tactic is to sabotage the victim's integrity and status as a competent player
8. Threatening : this involves hinting that some kind of reprimand , punishment or unpleasant outcome is imminent , or using some form of psychological assault such as a clenched fist or dagger eyes. Once I heard a bully threaten his hapless partner by saying " I'm going to write up about this disaster hand and get it published for all to read "  
9. Name calling : a bridge bully's vocabulary is very extensive with respect to derogatory words and savage insults. Worse of all are terms of endearment heavily loaded with intense sarcasm
10. Ordering : the bully has to be in control and to be the boss. He doesn't need to ask or seek permission to do things. Partner's role is to be both subservient and compliant and to obey his master's instructions
11. Judging and criticising : Nothing escapes criticism of the bully. Even the smallest faults at the table will be seized upon and condemned. Words like " you should have... " or " why didn't you do... " are dished out after each and every hand , irrespective of the result.  Indeed, I was once  bollocked for missing a chance of a third overtrick when just one had secured a global top
12. Denial : bullies don't make mistakes and are never in the wrong. Their role is to focus on partner's failings and shortcomings and never their own ( since these can't possibly exist )
13. Refusal to accept responsibility : partner is to blame for everything. And should the bully have made a mistake on board 14 , he will find a way to lay the blame on partner. " Your cock-up on board 13 caused me so much distress my brain was hurting, and I was unable to think straight ..."  
14.  Abusive anger : here the bully's histrionic outbursts are designed to harvest sympathy from others , and to publicity expose partner's failings. Attention must be drawn to the bully's plight , whereby his anger can then be looked upon as justified , a natural response to partner's ongoing provocation and incompetence
15. Symbolic gestures : these can involve walking off in a huff when partner's cocks up his declare play , stomping walks between tables, waving arms in a state of panic, acts of self-mutilation , ripping up his scorecard..... and so on  

So yes.....bridge bullies are masters of psychological and emotional abuse. Yet all too often they belong in upper echelons of high ranking players , which somehow persuades their victims and club committees to turn the proverbial blind eye , as to what is really happening at the tables. Bridge bullies should be brought to task and FINED on every occasion , for it is amazing how the power of money can motivate people to change their behaviour overnight.      

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