10:21 14 July 2015 Alcester South Dakota GS Jade Barrett with Paolo Clair

Ryne Sandberg
Ryne Sandberg

 «If you played the game the right way, played the game for the team, good things would happen» – Ryne Sandberg

American Contact Bridge League tournaments traditionally end with a Swiss Team event on Sunday and Sioux Falls was no exception. My wife, Grand Life Master Karen Lee Barrett, drove up from our home in Elk Point to play with our Italian traveler, Paolo Clair, while Dr Donna and I completed the squad – all in all, a very fine team.

We performed reasonably well over the 7 matches of 7 deals, but in each match (even our victories) a small error or two occurred, leaving us a well deserved 3rd in the event. Sunday was one of those days where the small things meant a lot.

Karen Lee Barrett
Karen Lee Barrett

One of the unfortunate realities of being a high level player is that you instantly recognize the incorrectness of your lead, bidding decision or play a microsecond after you have acted. The most difficult issue to confront is to set aside your internal emotional response so that you can focus all of your attention on your efforts to recover from your misstep. While in some cases the error does not materially affect the outcome of the deal, there are many more times where your cause is now irretrievably lost. Whatever the result, as the next board is immediately being placed on the table, you must exercise the responsibility to reset your mind to the proper mode that is essential to turning in your best performance.

keira kibitzing Dr Donna
Dra Donna

While our team was the strongest entry on paper, we still have to play the game. Every opponent we faced sat down with the opportunity to win, yet it is a rare occasion that any team will overpower another. Bridge is the one athletic endeavor in the world in which one team losing to another is the most common occurrence – it is truly a contest of who can avoid making the most mistakes.

It is also a competition where a player may choose an anti-percentage action at the right time to attain victory. In one of our matches, a player knowingly chose to bid an inferior slam because she believed that her team was in trouble.

Wenche Sjøvold
Wenche Sjøvold

Wenche Sjøvold (Wenche Sjoevold) from Trondheim, Norway (Ruterknekt bridgeklubb, translated jack of diamonds bridge club). This is the woman who bid the slam I wrote about. She was visiting her sons in the Usa from Norway

 Her successful gamble was dutifully rewarded as the bonus determined the outcome of our match. We congratulate her on her courage, but also on her resolve to carry the battle to her opponents – preferably some opponents other than us.

After all, we are trying to make a living here.