As I’ve mentioned before, Paul and I started playing bridge about nine months ago. It’s the most demanding card game we’ve ever played — by a long shot. It requires so much conceptualization, thought, and planning that it puts all other card games to shame. Yet each hand is its own unique challenge. Hence, we’ve found it very, very interesting.
We’ve taken about 24 hours of duplicate bridge instruction with three other couples since July. Paul and I also regularly play duplicate match games on Bridge Baron, then compare what we did. So our bidding and play has become very similar — and pretty decent. Paul has also been reading a slew of bridge books, then instructing me with helpful tidbits on occasion. Given the complexity of the game, we’re still very much novices though.
Last night, Paul and I spent the evening playing duplicate bridge at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center. They have a Monday night of duplicate bridge for novices organized by our excellent bridge instructor Mike Nussbaum and his lovely wife Fran.
Although we were playing with other novices, it was the first time that we played by strict rules with strangers, as opposed to informally with the friends in our classes. So that was stressful. By the end of the 14 hands over two-and-a-half hours of play, I was completely wiped out. In terms of mental exhaustion (as opposed to fun), it was almost like I’d just taken the SATs or GREs. I don’t expect to be that exhausted in the future, but I was pretty well amazed that a hobby could do that to me. Then again, it is bridge.
Happily, Paul and I did pretty well. In duplicate bridge, you need to do well relative to all the other north-south or east-west pairs playing your exact hands. So it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose points in the particular hands you play, only whether you lost more or less points than the other pairs when they played those hands. (That eliminates any luck in the distribution of cards from the scoring.) Paul and I ended up in first place amongst the six east-west pairs. We earned .35 master points. To put that in perspective, once we earn 20 points, we can no longer play in this novice night. We obviously have a ways to go!
I think my brain is still tired this morning. Luckily, the paper on Descartes’ and Newton’s respective theories of space and body that I’ll be writing today doesn’t require quite so much brain power as bridge did last night!