I’ve always suspected that pessimists make better card players than optimists — and I recently came across the proof. A study by a group of psychologists from Central Michigan University has found that the ‘glass-half-empty’ brigade really do perform better at the gaming table; they tend to remember their losses rather than their winnings, making them less impulsive and more cautious.
It’s obvious why expecting the worst gives you a huge advantage at bridge: you take time to prepare for all eventualities. Cheery types, who trust all will be well, often play far too quickly — like half the room at a recent club duplicate did here:
West led the ♦10. Delighted to be given a ruff-and-discard, many players ruffed in dummy and threw a spade from hand. When they later discovered hearts were 4–1, they fell back on a spade finesse — one down.
The more wary players took greater care at trick 1. Anticipating a bad heart break, they discarded a heart from hand. Next they drew trumps, cashed the ♥A, came to hand with a trump and played a heart. If West followed small, a simple finesse of the ♥10 would ensure the contract; if West played an honour they could win, and if East showed out, come back to hand and lead towards the ♥10. Either way, the fourth heart would provide a discard for a spade.
When it turned out to be West who showed out, they won with the ♥K and played a small spade from dummy: whatever East played, all they had to do was cover. West now had to play a spade into declarer’s tenace, or present him with a ruff-and-discard.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10