Excitable, crafty or just unlucky? These are types of bridge players that you have undoubtedly met already.
Every card player has a certain style. The styles are very different but you do tend to see the same types again and again.
Over 100 years ago a list of 26 types was proposed in a book on Whist (The Art of Practical Whist, General Drayson, 4th Ed. 1886).
They still apply to bridge today – see if you recognize them in others or indeed in yourself.
1. The Old-Fashioned Player
This player learnt bridge in the ‘80s, and thinks that’s all he needs to know. He is not interested in any changes that have happened to the game since then. A diehard Refusenik who treats such new‑fangled things as the Rule of 20, seven card fits and even Weak Twos with disgust.
Tip: If he is your opponent then throw all the new stuff you know at him and watch the shock and awe begin.
2. The Young Player
He may not be young in years but is inexperienced in the great game of bridge. Such players can be divided into two classes: the humble and the arrogant. The humble ones actually listen to advice and act on it to become a welcomed partner and feared opponent. The arrogant ones will argue, ignore any hints and tips and even worse, lecture other players on what they should have done.
Tip: If he is your opponent then encourage him to stay in his seat by sympathizing with his “bad luck”. Your percentages are guaranteed to rise steadily.
3. The Player Who Has Never Read a Bridge Book
The player who has never read a bridge book will usually tell you this proudly, but if he has not then you will find out very soon from his bids and play. He skipped the slow learning process that the masses have followed and has taught himself everything believing that he is excellent.
Tip: As when spotting a self-taught skier on the piste, one’s safest action is to put as much distance between you and him as possible.
4. The Book Player
This player has a Bible and that is his bridge book. He will never stray from the divine path. He’d rather go down playing by the book than make a contract by breaking a rule. On one hand he is a good reliable partner but on the other hand everyone (including the opponents) will get a very clear picture of his hand. Favourite saying is “Read the Book, Read the Book”.
Tip: If he is your partner then have faith and read the book (there is no other option).
5. The One Who Only Plays For Fun
This player is someone with an over-developed sense of self-esteem who will struggle hard to prevent it being in any way lessened. So when making a mistake at bridge he will claim he only plays for fun. Which is rather rude, as it implies others are making a business out the game whereas it is below him “like a philosopher playing at marbles” and he would of course be a good player if only he bothered.
Tip: Tell him you’d appreciate him finding his fun elsewhere.
6. The Crafty Player
Treasured as a partner and feared as an opponent, this player delights in playing in deceptive ways. For him each trick stolen is twice as sweet. Misleading bids, extra deep finesses, and underleading Aces are all meat and drink to him. Good at estimating player’s ability, his craftiness even goes as far to not pointing out defects in his partner’s play – in case his partner will be an opponent in a future tournament.
Tip: Be prepared for a frenzy of false carding that misleads opponents and partner alike.
7. The Great Card Holder
Although we know in our heart of hearts that the cards really are dealt randomly and so no-one will consistently get better cards than anyone else, there do exist players with the reputation of holding a good hand. This is because they play so well that they win more with good cards and lose less with bad cards. If you are envious of their ability then some consolation may be had from informing them of the saying “lucky in cards unlucky in love”.
Tip: Try to get this unloved person to be your partner.
8. The Unlucky Player
As this player cannot accept his poor results are down to bad play he fervently believes he is a victim of the invisible power called bad luck. Even when a finesse fails it is not by chance but due to bad luck working against him. Although this can be a satisfying philosophy that attaches no blame to his level of intelligence or skill, since believing in it gives him no hope of ever getting good results, one wonders why he continues to play at all.
Tip: Cheer up this unfortunate by telling him he must be lucky in love.
9. The Bridge Authority
Every bridge club has at least one person who has assumed the role of the expert and is fond of dispensing his wisdom – often unasked, usually to his hapless partner but sometimes to the opponents as well. It can be quite painful to observe such scenes especially when the advice given is quite wrong. An intelligent bridge authority will in fact keep his winning knowledge to himself and his regular partner and not share it with the opponents to their advantage (as will the Crafty Player).
Tip: Be respectful of his advice but be careful following it, especially if he is not winning regularly.
10. The Excitable Player
An excitable player is a dangerous partner. His mood infects all at the table: you are excited (actually highly stressed) about what on earth he will do next, and the opponents are excited about their good likelihood of getting extraordinarily high scores. You’ll see: rapidly escalating bidding, hasty leads, overlooking significant actions by the opponents, and playing a card too soon – all are just some of the many signs that you’ve got a wild one facing you.
Tip: If he is your partner then slip some Valium into his tea during the tournament break.
11. The Slow Player
No player drains one’s energy more than this one. Presumably a believer of the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise he peers out of his shell at the dealt hand with great suspicion. And if you thought he took an age to pick up and sort his cards, just wait until he plays them. And wait some more. It is hard not to believe that his long and meaningless delays (e.g. which card to play when it is a singleton) are not a tactic to drive the opponents to distraction so that they deliberately lose their tricks just to finish the game.
Tip: Take the Valium yourself.
12. The Player Who Won’t Learn
When a disaster happens, as it always does at least once in a tournament, this player does not want to know why nor discuss how to prevent it happening again. Like the Bourbons of whom it was said “they have forgotten nothing and learned nothing” he may push back by claiming you made an equally awful mistake in a previous tournament, as if that in any way justified what he has done.
Tip: Adopt a “No Comment” policy – leave it to the Bridge Authority to further his education
13. The Player with a Bad Memory
Possibly the most exasperating partner to have is this one who seems incapable of counting to 13, remembering what was lead or been played, and is fond of an extra round of trumps “just to make sure”. Favourite saying is “Well, I thought that…” closely followed by “Sorry”.
Tip: Screaming at partner will not improve his memory. Instead try to prevent him from being declarer or present him with a hopefully foolproof defence.
Coming in part 2 are the 13 remaining types of players including “The Good Bad Player”, “The Bad Good Player” and “The Man with the Pre-occupied Mind”….