Saturday, July 25, 2009

The mother of delivery

The psychological dynamic is a layer between our actions at the table and our consideration of them in our brain. It has the capacity of affecting either end.
Since it is neither an action nor a thought, its hard to be aware of it.

Delivery is the child of this dynamic.

The following factors impact it.

Before game
Personal station in life
Importance of bridge in life
Amount of rest
Physiological state (food/alcohol/sugar)

Our partnership
Belief in partnership
Opinion of partner
Our perception of partner's opinion of us
Belief in teammates

Impression about calibre of opponents
Psychological interplay with the opponents' personalities
Expectancy of result

During the game

Attachment to scoresheet
Analysis of completed hands
Psychological composition
Preparing for the post-mortem
Analytic Residue
Physical distractions

Our Partnership
Opinion of partner and his actions
Vibes from partner

Who is controlling the tempo
The Trend
Psychological interplay with the opponents' personalities
Likely Result

Every bridge player has his own special weighted dynamic. At any point in time, most of the factors will be relevant to our case, a few very importantly so. Some factors may be practically irrelevant.

The relative importance of these factors varies with time.

Next: Some real-life examples.


  1. Looks like a good starting point.
    Some of these factors are relevant to yourself and your partnership - you can control these thoughts through hard work, training, and "lots ofs sleep"
    Some of the factors you have are external. You cannot control the occurence of external factors, only how you react to them. This is where mental training comes into play.

  2. This is great stuff, but to put it into my personal context, I'd swap the whole lot of these (maybe apart from the "attachment to scoresheet" item) with just one improvement, namely:

    - a better and more complete bidding system

  3. Nice top down analysis. I reckon there is a book in this if you explore under these headings.

    You might wish to consider a section on "After the Game" also, there are some important considerations to maintaining partner and team harmony during a tournament.

    It seems obvious to devote some time to improving this individually and within your partnership.

    I believe the top Europeans do. It’s been noted the current Italian pairs have the ability to change gears mid match. Hard to believe that evolved without conscious thought and practise.

    The Polish at the very top of the game a decade or so ago wrote about the physiological side of the game in their bridge literature. Exercising, eating right, and relaxing were all part of their preparation and tournament regimes.

    It’s good your partnership with Tony is sufficiently grounded to afford you time to focus on this. I’m sure you will get a return on your investment.

    A few idle thoughts on:
    "Before the Game": All top athletes follow a training and preparation plan, you guys should be no different.

    “During the Game”: Like in poker your assessment of those around you will have some basis in past behaviours, but it is what they are thinking right now that is of critical importance. Have they capitulated, are they swinging, or are they walking on water. Can/should you adjust your delivery to any or all of these circumstances?

    There’s not a lot of literature around on State of the Match decisions, maybe its to tough to describe in writing.

    Michael Phillips

  4. Michael, I am very interested in more information on this quote
    "The Polish at the very top of the game a decade or so ago wrote about the physiological side of the game in their bridge literature"
    Would appreciate if you could share some more specific information. I'm sure I can dig up some polish acquaintances for translation etc.

    "Before the game" should be what is universally (in most other games and sports) called the pre-game routine. I agree that we bridge players should be no different.

    Dont buy the whole state of the match stuff though.....based on my observations of top-flight competition, this is a bit of a myth that we hold.

  5. Regarding the "state of the match" stuff: my experience was that we attempted to adopt a certain attitude at the start, and then maintain that attitude throughout, regardless of what was happening on the scoresheet. The only time we paid any real attention was when it appeared that we had "cracked" a pair, and their judgement was collapsing. Then you become aware that "iffy" penalty doubles are probably paying off, and so on. If you try to change your delivery because you think you are behind or something, that's when you tend to start throwing swings away (and -you- are the pair that has cracked under pressure). So I guess that means I agree with you, SH.

  6. You might want to check my facts with George Bilski. My passionate Polish partner of the time (Jarek Gasiorek) would translate from his magazine over coffee explaining the way of the future to me. I thought he was a little mad, turns out I was to inexperienced to keep up. I’ll follow up on my side.

    I’m not going to argue “state of the match”. As I was mentioning it, I felt pangs of scepticism myself.