BRIDGE : THE PERFECT IMPERFECT GAME....... ( Article by Carp )
Bridge is without doubt a most majestic and beautiful game. The irony of course is every one of its major imperfections plays an important part in making the game so perfect. These imperfections simply add to the enthralling challenge which faces each player at the table.
Some commentators have defined bridge as a two-person zero sum game in that it involves two players forming a partnership. Therefore it becomes immediately apparent that each player has to overcome imperfect recall. One or both will forget things they knew or have experienced in the past. Establishing a perfect wave-length and understanding with partner inevitably takes years of hard work and practice , an objective which unfortunately is never likely to come to fruition.
In some extreme cases a player might fail to recall what is on their convention card , what took place in the auction, what cards have been played during a hand , and what happened in near identical hands they encountered before. The absence of a perfect memory creates an imperfect recall, which becomes a difficult obstacle to overcome.
Another imperfection lies in the fact that during the early play of the hand so many cards remain hidden from view. With this degree of imperfect knowledge of who holds what , difficult decisions and choices have to be made. The challenge here to replace guesswork with logical deduction , clue analysis and sound judgement. Assumptions need to be drawn on all the evidence gathered to date, combined with an imperfect knowledge of the true statistical odds that apply at any given stage of the hand in play. Based on imperfect analysis at the start of play , players strive valiantly to identify the best lines of play , especially when more and more information comes to light.
The reality of the game is that the number of possible bidding sequences in an auction, along with the possible sequences of cards being played , run into tens of thousands. This means that in a very large field various different contracts will be arrived at , and that the outcomes in an identical contract will vary enormously. An imperfect opening lead, continuation or switch is often the root cause of such diverse outcomes.
Players are required to make imperfect choices based on imperfect information. This imperfection might well be (a) the lack of any information at all or (b) misleading information , and (c) inadequate information leading to false assumptions and mistakes. The fact that any player at the table can be guilty of off-centre bids , psychs , and deceptive gambits , not to mention stupidity, the idea that perfect information could exist is an absolute non-starter.
However , the main reason why bridge is such an imperfect game is , I'm afraid , down to the fact that too many players cheat. Some of cheating is unintentional , petty and soft. Other forms of cheating have become hard , deliberate , calculating , intentional and highly sophisticated ( possibly undetectable ). The challenge here for the good honest players is to recognise its presence and to report their findings to the governing bodies , The problem here is that whatever suspicions and accusations are made , they must be supported by strong irrefutable evidence.
Finally , we come to the imperfections of each and every player , who will always fall the victim to The Human Condition. The majority of players are prone to lapses of memory , focus , concentration, discipline and ethical conduct. Directors are prone to an imperfect knowledge or interpretation of the rules , allowing prejudice and bias to determine their decisions. Noise and disturbances at other tables create an imperfect environment in which players struggle to maintain focus and concentration.
So yes , bridge becomes the perfect game in that players have to overcome all the imperfections inherent in the game. These added challenges are immense , but the beauty and majesty of the game makes each and every one worth taking on.