Andre Asbury

Slumping in Bridge

We all are well aware of the slump phenomenon that occurs in sports, particularly with hitters in baseball. The Braves recently had a 9 game losing streak but followed it up with wins in the last 3 days. The same thing can be said about bridge. Or any game, for that matter. In the week or two preceding Gatlinburg (actually, going all the way back to the Reno tournament), I would say I was in a bridge slump. I had been below average 3 out of 4 sessions at the local club and even in online games, I was only coming out about average. But what really convinced me that I was in a bridge slump was a couple of weeks ago, Chalcraft posted a hand in which he had a trump suit of Q9 opposite 87643. I made the erroneous claim that JT doubleton in one hand would not be enough to allow the suit to come home for only 3 losers. Clearly, that and any 3-3 split are the two combinations where you legitimately can get out for 3 losers.

So, how do we get in slumps? Athletes blame it on the weather, their diet, a change in their sleeping routine, a nagging injury, experimenting with a new PED, a particular pitcher they faced one day, relationship problems, or just pure dumb luck. Baseball players try everything from sleeping a different way, wearing different clothes, brushing their hair differently, getting laid, going back to review the fundamentals, taking a few days off, playing through it with extra practice.

In bridge, I’d say the way we get into slumps can be attributed to getting into bad habits by playing in atmospheres that are not conducive to good bridge – this could mean playing bridge and scrabble simultaneously, playing bridge while intently watching a TV show, playing with people whose bids and carding can’t be trusted, or simply playing in a weak field where you know you can get away with bad bidding so you do it but then in good competition, you get punished for it. And relationship issues are always things that can cause slumps in any aspect of life.

How do we recover from a slump? By singing, dancing. Yes, that’s right. In lieu of bridge at the local club 2 or 3 times a week, I’m rehearsing for a play. So, bridge for awhile is limited to some online playing (when I probably should be sleeping) and blogging and reading bridge blogs (when I probably should be working). I find that searching the BBO hand records for hands to write about and actually writing about them – even the non-interesting ones that I never put on the net – help me figure out where pitfalls are in my game. Going back to review the basics of how to think as a defender and reminding yourself to stick to your system as a bidder can be quite helpful to get your mind thinking properly about bridge. Anyway, I think I may be out of a bridge slump now, as in the past week, I was +164 imps in 140 hands on BBO and 59.50% in 67 matchpoint hands in mostly above average competition.


Howard Bigot-JohnsonMay 4th, 2010 at 9:23 am

Lovely article ……very thought provoking……………..could give rise to loads of theories. Might be tempted to do an article myself that explores some of these. Anyway, as players we all experience peaks and troughs…..and sometimes the troughs go on forever, such is the nature of being in a rut. Once a negative mind set develops, you can’t think rationally, which results in further miserable scores to keep you locked in that cycle of disadvantage.

sunnybrookAugust 3rd, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Thanx for the advice. The same has happened w/me. On fire @ the tables for weeks; then can’t get over 50%. I planon going back to basics; play only w/my most trusted ptnr; & realize this happens to everone. Thanx again

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