Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pet Peeves at the Bridge Table

Today I’d like to share some of the things that really bother me in bridge, mainly with people and their mannerisms, in no particular order.

1. I hate when people hold a card out like they are about to play it but then keep it there, face down just above the table. This gets me reaching for my cards and I’d really rather have my hands more relaxed while waiting for you to play a card. When I see you pull a card out of your hand, I expect it to be on the table as a played card within a second.

2. Turning the boards upside down after they have been played or shuffled. Are you afraid you’re going to forget that you’ve played board 1 if you simply move it to the bottom of the stack? Turning the board over tends to get them out of order and some of the boards have those interlocking grooves that really don’t fit well when some boards are turned over. Plus, you can sometimes see parts of the cards from the bottom of the board. The ladder part applies more to turning them over when shuffling. So, I’d like to start a trend of a board face down (or a card turned up) means it needs to be shuffled and a board face up means it is done.

3. I hate people giving lessons at the table. Maybe between rounds is okay if there is time, but one should have the courtesy to save personal discussions of the hands until the opponents are done. At the conclusion of the hand, it is okay to ask about a particular person’s holding if you didn’t get have it quite figured out but if it’s going to be condescending or take longer than 10 seconds, save it.

4. Declarers who call a card from dummy before the whole dummy is on the table are really annoying. It’s in the laws somewhere they everyone should take time at trick one before playing from dummy. That means before dummy plays, not when it’s rho’s turn to play because it may look like rho is hesitating because of a problem with what to play at trick 1 when he really is formulating a plan for the whole hand. I never complain about this because the people that do this are the ones who don’t know what they’re doing anyway.

5. Dummies who pull a card from dummy before it is called, even if it’s a singleton for the same reasons mentioned above.

6. Spending a lot of time looking at the traveler. I know, you’re all curious to see what the other people did, but it slows down the game, and you can study the traveler after the game. In fact, I think travelers shouldn’t be used except maybe in a teaching or mentoring game.

7. Pulling your cards out before everyone is at the table is rude. I know, the vast majority of people wouldn’t cheat but it’s just bad manners. What’s there to gain by looking at your hand 30 seconds longer than your opponent? I suppose it’s okay if 1 opponent is at the table, but when the other opponent comes, he may come from behind you and inadvertently see your cards.

8. Asking for a detailed explanation of every alert during an auction rather than waiting until the end of the bidding. Yes, you’re probably always going to want to know what RHO’s 2D call meant after partner opened 1NT, and you are totally justified in asking what the alerts are for the first couple of bids in a precision auction, but after that, if it’s clearly an uncontested auction, quit interrupting and wait for the explanation at the end of the bidding.

9. 6 ½ table and 7 ½ table Mitchell movements and the 4 board sitouts that go along with those movements. I make every effort to not have a 4 board sitout in any game I direct. Even if it means a little more inconvenience and a little more work for the director, people overall much prefer 3 board sitouts for 4 board sitouts. Not to mention, in club games more masterpoints are won if you have 1 group of 13 or 15 pairs than 2 groups of 7 or so.

10. Tardiness. This irks me more than just about anything else because I am habitually early everywhere I go and I expect everyone else to be the same way.


  1. Ok, I want to play too. In no particular order:

    1. Declarer pauses for thought. Breaking a new suit, declarer leads a low card toward AQx or KJx in dummy. Lefty follows low (what a surprise!). Declarer then goes into another trance.

    2. The STOP card. 95% of people who use it think it's to wake their partner up. The NABC casebooks are rife with contested auctions where an 8-10 second pause is viewed as a break in tempo, even though it's mandatory when there is a jump! Forget the whole thing.

    3. People who tap the table instead of passing when they are not in the passout seat. Just take the extra five seconds to pick up another green card--the opps may double or sacrifice.

    4. I open 2S and lefty thinks for a little while and asks "Is that weak?" Yes, yes, YES! If it weren't weak, I'd have alerted it.

    5. One of the opponents pauses in a competitive auction. Her partner bids on and I call the director. The auction gets rolled back, and after the hand she informs the two of us blithely that "it's just a game" and "I play for fun." The latter phrase is especially ubiquitous. Passive-aggressive much?

    6. With us silent, the auction goes 1NT-2H-2S-4S. Dummy comes down with 5=3=3=2 and 10 HCP. Invariably declarer has three or four spades (or two spades but they split 3-3) and the contract makes for a normal result. I'm grinding my teeth just writing about it.

    7. I make a matchpoint double of a partscore and the contract makes. I'm not happy about it, but I'm especially not happy when the opponents start celebrating openly in front of me. Or even when they smugly ask me for help computing the score. When I'm the declarer and I make a doubled contract, I keep my head down and look up the score on the back of the bidding box if I don't know it.

    8. 1D. "Alert." "Yes?" "Could be as short as 1." "Oh, are you playing Precision?" "Yes." "So 1D is 11-15 HCP?" "Um, yes." Well, I'm glad I had to interrogate you further--it's like a fun game, where the object is to ferret out the information that YOU SHOULD BE GIVING ME IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    9. People who shake their heads bemusedly when a multiple-alert auction occurs. Yes I know that Charles Goren didn't need any fancy Puppet Stayman to be your hero when you were in your 30's, and that you just bid by the seat of your pants, but I'm sorry to inform you that your "natural" bidding is worse than my convention-aided bidding. Sorry about that.

    10. The auction goes 1NT-4NT-pass, or 2NT-4NT-pass, or 1NT-2H-2S-4NT-pass, and the confused opponents (perhaps annoyed because they thought they were going to profit from our bidding accident) ask after the hand why I didn't respond to partner's Blackwood bid. It's called SAYC, folks! Learn it!

  2. ooh yes, the stop card. that thing should be abolished.

  3. Agree with every thing on this page except #1. If you're playing against me, I'm gonna just smile and give you a look of TS. But do I ever agree with #4 and, yes, do ban the stop card. Nowadays it's only discernible function is to wake up their partner.