With Halloween approaching, I had the idea of imagining how I could make myself the scariest witch, vampire or mythical beast possible. After brainstorming ideas with various bridge players, I came to the conclusion that being myself, an experienced bridge player, is scary enough!

Here is the story of how I came to this conclusion . . .

I imagined myself a fresh victim of the game, about to stroll into the local bridge club, intent on learning. I realise this could result in walking into a session of bridge, seeing a million pairs of eyes staring at me thinking “What on earth are you doing here?” Hopefully, the Director will come to my rescue and provide the information I am after, and maybe a cup of tea (or something stronger) to calm my nerves.

Let’s say I decide to take up lessons. I’d feel a little more at home knowing my fellow students were about to take the same trek up the Everest-like mountain that is learning bridge. I’d trudge through my lessons, sometimes feeling satisfi ed, but often dimwitted, especially after asking for the fifth time “What are the majors again? Clubs and diamonds, or hearts and spades?”I am ever more aware that it is going to take a fair bit of time to get everything straight in my mind.

After surviving the entire course of lessons (where several of my fellow trekkers have fallen off the mountain), let’s say I am fortunate enough to find a club which offers supervised play, rather than throwing me straight into the shark pool.

I imagine the first few months will be somewhat daunting, as doubles, transfers and Blackwood are all thrown into the bridge mix. I am sure there will be questions going through my head like “Have I asked for help too many times?”, “Am I taking too much time?”, “What will happen if I do something wrong?”, “Why am I the only one who doesn’t understand?” or “What time does this end?” I will also be unsurprised if something like this happens to me:


I proudly face dummy on the table, feeling very satisfied that I have shown my 12-15 points with support for partner’s spades. My hand:

 842, —, K9653, QJ863

After partner gets over his shock, he will shake his head and give me a look, my opponents will be horrified and might even call the supervisor because I am “cheating”. Why am I getting this reaction???? I have six high card points, two length points for each of my five-card suits, and five points for my void. I opened the lower of equal length suits and I must have a fit with partner, because bidding a major shows five cards.

Time passes. I learn a lot, and now feel it is time to venture into the duplicate game. All of a sudden, I am faced with trying to use a scoring unit, and playing against unfamiliar people who have played the game for more than three decades!!! They might tell me they play Precision – What is that? Is everything they do always right? I might have the Director called because I am hesitating or have bid based on information I shouldn’t have – what!? It sounds like they think I am cheating!! I was just trying to remember how many points partner needs to respond 1NT!! And what on earth is a transfer preempt??

I am, of course the nicest person ever to walk the earth, but in a rather roundabout way this is how I came to the conclusion that I (the experienced bridge player) am a very scary person. Being able to confi dently and quickly sort my cards, choose my bid, conduct an auction, make a penalty double or use a convention that my opponents have never seen before, can make me as scary as Frankenstein’s Monster. Thinking about this has made me realise that, although I have good intentions, and try as hard as I can to make less experienced players feel as comfortable as possible at the table, I am still very scary and need to try even harder!