Saturday, April 29, 2006

Play with an expert if you can

The other day I was talking with a friend who said that he'd never played with an expert partner, but had played against a few. He worried that he might be intimidated. Emotionally I can relate to this. I remember the feelings of total panic in that seat, and your brain shuts down and you're too nervous to really enjoy the experience or learn something from it. Emotionally, I get it. But intellectually, I think that there's so much to be gained that if you have the chance, you ought to take it. BBO is really interesting in that you do have the chance. It's often as simple as looking at the partnership desk for a Tourney (Home Base is always a good choice.) You might have to pay their card fee, but really, it's worth a dollar, isn't it?

I think that in the 45 minutes to an hour and a half that you're parked across from this expert (or advanced or whatever other adjective adds up to good player) the most important thing to learn is what to do when things don't go right. And even for the world class players things don't always go right. The thing is, if it's a mistake you put it behind you. If it's a misunderstanding you discuss it, and if it's something you didn't know then when this good player points it out, you now know something you didn't, and you can be pretty sure their advice is good and their criticism is constructive and warrented. Maybe the biggest lesson is that if you're going to play bridge you're going to have bad boards, and it's ALRIGHT. Bridge is more fun when not every negative score is a tragedy.

Meanwhile when I'm not steering people to the partnership desk, I'm trying to really learn to count cards. And learn is a strange verb here, because in theory, if you can count beans or apples or from one to fourty you can count cards. In theory. I find while I'm counting points and suits and winners and losers and how many imps I'm behind, I get mixed up. But I have been assured, people have promised, that this gets easier. And one day I'll be able to count cards the way that people count change. Maybe.


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