2006 Poor Bridge Resolutions
By Phil Smith

Ten New Year's Resolutions

It is customary at this time of year to make some New Year's resolutions. We all start out on the first of January with the best intentions of how we intend to improve our lives. We say things like "oh man, I am never drinking again, where's the aspirin?" and "In the coming year I will brush my teeth every day." But before a week has gone by, you're in the boozer buying a round while trying to scrape off the plaque with your fingers. With this in mind, I have decided to write a set of New Year's Resolutions for bridge players other than myself because, if nothing at all is going to change in any event, I might as well rant about other people's annoying habits than admit to having some of my own.

First up, I want all you grannies and paranoid folk in bridge clubs up and down the country to stop pretending that the duplimate machine fixes hands in favour of the better players. Take note: with truly randomised cards, you don't always find partner with some support for your overcalls, and 1NT openings do not come up every other deal.

Secondly, playing weak twos does not mean that I am playing "Benji". Benjaminised Acol is a bidding system that includes weak and natural 2H and 2S openings. So do many other systems. The statement "He Benjied" is irritating and makes you sound silly.

Thirdly, if you play a mini-no trump and you write 10-12 point openings on your convention card then do not open half of all your nine counts 1NT. Either write 9-12 on your convention card, or stop compulsively playing with your mini-notrump toy.

Fourthly, stop threatening to call the director. Either call him if you believe there is a problem or don't call him. The director is not a schoolmaster who has the role of telling off naughty children.

Five: On the subject of directors, I'm not accusing you of anything by calling the TD — there may or may not be a problem. There really is no need to get all defensive.

Six: I cannot tell you what partner's discard means, only what our agreements are. The question "what does the six mean?" is not a valid one. Sorry.

Seven: For all the social players out there: the fact that you don't play well, or seriously, or whatever, does not excuse you from following the rules. For example, explaining that you are taking 4C as Gerber when your opponents haven't even asked for an explanation is not allowed. It wouldn't be allowed if they had asked, either.

Eight: I've noticed that the best players in the country are always polite to opponents and don't go into an enormous grump when novices or weaker players do daft things that work out for them. The serious players of the land should try to emulate the best players in this respect.

Nine: Your clever convention will only get you good scores if you use it on appropriate hands, so using it at every opportunity is not going to get you a good score. Equally, going on and on about it is tiresome and not going to make you any friends.

And finally: Partner, I know I made a mistake. I know that trying to justify my mistake was a waste of time, because I was wrong. Now please will you let go of it?

Happy New Year everybody!