Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monogamy in Bridge

We've all heard the saying "Bridge is like sex - If you don't have a good partner, you better have a good hand." But there really aren't many similarities between the two. Bridge players need not, in fact should not, be monogamous with their partners while in sex and relationships, monogamy is generally encouraged.

It is true that some people do well with just one bridge partner, and I see many happy couples who play almost exclusively with their spouse, but I think these people are in the minority. It takes 2 special people to get along with each other well enough for this, and even if I could get along with a spouse/significant other well at the table, I think I would still want more variety. It is well-known that established partnerships have better results than casual partnerships or pick-up partnerships from having more solid agreements, less bidding misunderstandings, and generally more comfort at the table. There are several auctions and defensive signaling situations that a first time partnership, or even a partnership that plays once in 3 months, will not have a solid enough foundation to handle well.

However, I think all good bridge players need 3 or 4 regular partnerships. For one, it is good to have a break from being across the same person all the time. Even if you have yet to get tired of each other, playing with other people for awhile will help prevent that from happening. You learn different things from different partners, you get to play different systems, and just gain a wider bridge knowledge. Likewise, once one has reached some substantial level of mastery, it is good to play a variety of different systems - no so much to master several different systems but to learn about them and be ready when the opponents play some strange system. I mean, surely it is easier to defend against precision if you have at some point played precision, and it is easier to defend against canape if you have played canape enough to learn some of the little nuances that aren't always alerted or even practical to alert all the little negative inferences that can sometimes be available to someone playing a "foreign" system.

I tend to think I have 4 regular partnerships with a couple more probably in the works - Sean, Emory, Joel, and my dad - and with these people I play 4 fairly different systems: canape Swedish club, 2/1 with lots of gadgets, 2/1 with lots of gadgets and a weak NT, and simple 2/1.

Does this having multiple partnerships transfer to romantic relationships as well. I think no, but who really knows? People in committed monogamous relationshipsare often seen seeking intimacy in other places, so maybe monogamy in romance is not our natural tendency either.

1 comment: