11:30 20 January 2016 Elk Point South Dakota GS Jade Barrett csbnews.org USA correspondent
«Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else» – CS Lewis
Forming new partnerships is always a challenge, usually a fun one, occasionally a frustrating one and frequently filled with miscommunication. It seems no matter how much preparation a pair of intelligent, well experienced and capable bridge athletes make, there are always Gremlins running around gumming up the works.
These creatures – perhaps mythical – take great pride in tripping up the best of well-established pairs, and since they have eons of experience confounding humanity, it is difficult to prevent them from disrupting our game. Every culture has its petty demons, and have developed devices to protect against them that work to some greater or lesser extent, though for the most part these relics have little effect beyond that of making us feel better for owning them.
There are chants and incantations that our ancestors created to ward off these nefarious beings that have passed down through the ages: «Eight Ever, Nine Never», «When Dummy is on Your Right, Lead the Weakest Thing in Sight», «Cover an Honor with an Honor», and the ever popular«Return Your Partner’s Opening Lead» are extensively used by many, but there are more than a few that are found throughout the known world in the colloquial dialect of the region. Perhaps the most Kaballic of these is the famous, yet lesser used Rabbi’s Rule: «When the King is Singleton, Play the Ace» , attributed to the wonderful Leonard Helman, superb player and humanist (he also danced a fine softshoe and a more than passable Irish jig).
The local shamans – also known as Bridge Experts or their associates Bridge Teachers – are sought out by the local practioners of the game to acquire some semblance of protection from the Gremlins, studying at the knees of these Masters, learning to recite the rules of engagement designed to deflect their efforts. As these individuals continue to participate in the arena of bridge many will develope their own axioms to fit their personal beliefs. My own include «Don’t Think, it Weakens the Team»revealed to me by Canadian expert, Earl Knipfel, in reference to guessing versus contemplation.
Keep in mind that while possessing these talismans – both physical and mental – may assist in the defeat of the troublesome gremlins, good preparation is required to strengthen these wards. Often just one more moment of conversation will be enough to prevent the arrival of yet another one of these IMPs from raising their ugly head.