Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop

01:37 18 July 2015 St Louis Missouri GS Jade Barrett with Paolo Clair

«I have a hot memory, but I know I’ve forgotten many things, too, just squashed things in favor of survival»
– Iggy Pop

 Tromso 2015
Tromso 2015

Bridge is challenging enough without competing in a venue that ranges from Sub-Artic freeze to brutal Desert heat – and that’s just in the playing area. Right now the temperature in St Louis is hovering just under 100 Fahrenheit, but the airconditioning could chill margaritas. Given that Tromso was in the upper 40 F, Paolo has experienced both extremes. Thankfully, he packed for both.

That being said, in order to be the successful competitor, one must set aside these annoyances and get down to business. Playing areas will always be too hot or too cold; too loud or too crowded or any combination thereof.

  Forgetting the issues with the venue is just another example of the application of memory control. Tournament athletes utilize this skill constantly, for if they recall every mistake they have ever made their spirit would be shattered. Bad sessions, disastrous boards and poor plays abound even among the greatest players, it is how they manage the emotional response that sets them apart from the mere mortals of the game. It is not that we forget the lesson of the deal, but store it for future reflection – if such attention is warranted.

Keira the Black Russian Terrier in a very cold playing area
Keira the Black Russian Terrier in a very cold playing area

For all of us, an unfortunate result can be as distracting as a quick punch to the nose and some pains are much more long lasting than others. I often take a few extra seconds to let the wave of frustration to pass in order to bring my focus to bear on the next hand. Some long matches require this activity more than others, as anybody who has lost by a hundred IMPs or more can attest to.

Over my forty five years of competing I have won over 600 events of one sort or another – enough for a top 50 spot on the American Contract Bridge League’s Lifetime list. It only took about 60,000 losses to get there.

selective memory
selective memory

With that knowledge firmly entrenched in my psyche, I have come to believe that the ability to withstand loss is vital to success, for without it no competitor remains in any athletic endeavor for very long. It is not that these souls accept defeat, they just get over it faster.

It also helps to have a selective memory.