Paul Cronin

Sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander!

The teaching of bridge today is “one size fits all” – there are no geese and no ganders – just “here is what good bridge is about – learn it!”. But those new to the game bring to it different levels of ability, and different personality types. Emphasizing “count, count, count” to someone whose memory has perhaps lost a step or two, or urging an inherently timid person to be an aggressive bidder, is counterproductive and leads only to frustration. In a similar vein, no distinction is made between someone who intends to play with a regular partner and someone who’s going to play with a (large) number of different partners, and it should be, as the toolkit which should be provided to each is quite different. Imagine a sixty-five year old man with poor eyesight who wants to take up golf, and goes to a golf pro for lessons. Should the pro try to teach him to hit the ball “properly”, or should he try to teach him to hit the ball as best he can given his physical condition and hand-eye coordination? Tough (impossible?) though for a bridge teacher to individualize instruction when the class is large -is there another approach?     


bobby wolffJuly 28th, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Hi Paul,

With this article comes the key to the kingdom in the teaching and future of bridge.

Only in bridge, and in no other sports, can the unwashed play alongside and at the same table as the cream of the crop and believe it or not, on any one hand, come out with a good result. Would it be possible for any novice in any sport to even barely return a serve from Federer, hit a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher, play any position even for one down in the NFL, keep a NBA player from destroying them in basketball or just skate on the hockey rink with the NHL?

While the above list goes on and on, since close contact is the mode rather than the exception in bridge, yes, you are correct in one size DOES NOT fit all, but what is to be done about it?

My suggestion is both for the top level bridge players to recognize and be helpful and cordial but also for the great unwashed to understand their fortunate (sometimes not feeling that way) blessing in being able to feel and profit from it and to cut some slack for, at least at this time, bridge professionals who are not (to say the least) in the position of making the kind of money others in sports are now accustomed.

Your subject brings (or at least should) the above into focus and both miles apart groups should understand and, if you’ll excuse the expression, deal with it.

Thanks for your organization.

Carole CopleaAugust 1st, 2014 at 12:06 am

I have a small group of 60+ ‘eager beavers’ learning bridge. I am not a professional teacher, I am more like a friendly guide. I let them play hands, and then we discuss the bidding or play of the hand, and I try to show them what was good or bad about it. My ‘students’ always have lots of questions and take lots of notes, and they tell me how beneficial it is to have someone with experience to show them the ropes, so to speak. This is a long and sometimes painful process for me, but it is also very rewarding and satisfying, as my students are so enthusiastic about learning this game. I don’t know what the answer is for the future of bridge, but if more experienced bridge players would take on the challenge of mentoring newbies, perhaps we would see more people joining our ranks. I have written a mystery novel about bridge players with the idea of opening up the world of bridge to new people, so I wrote it to be accessible to non-bridge players. It is available online from Master Point Press. The title is Death In Duplicate.

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