Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Handball and Bridge ... continued

Focus styles used in a bridge game

And now looking at the focus styles used during a game of bridge. It is definitely getting tougher

Switching focus styles requires a great deal of mental energy.
Errors are more likely to occur then we have to change the width and the direction of our attention. We may change to slowly or too rapidly and miss relevant cues as a result.

If declarer plays a card quickly at trick one, we need to change focus from broad external to broad internal for analysis. If we react too too quickly, we may miss the step or make it too late, after our card has been played or after tha game has been played !
Or declarer plays an unexpected card. This may call for a shift to broad internal focus as we consider declarer strategy. If this thinking was not done before, we will switch to broad internal focus too slowly and our tempo will give a cue to the opponent

In addition to the cues relevant to the hand being played, there are a lot of sources of distractions that can call upon our focus if we are not careful. Some external, such as:

  • the attitude of partner,

  • the attitude of the opponents –say they begin an argument at the table,

  • the heat and the noise in the room,

Some internal such as:

  • a bad result – or even a very good one - on the previous hand,

  • the bad feeling we have made a bad play or that partner has taken an unexpected action,

  • worrying that our teammates had a tough time on previous round

  • or plain simple that we just had lunch and feel sleepy, wishing we did not.

Adding to this, the skills used during a game of bridge are mental, not physical like in a soccer game.

  • In a ball game, the physical skills are practiced over and over again. When you are playing, your focus is practically always external except for those rare moments when you shoot a goal and even then, it is pretty much only at the moment you actually throw the ball.

  • In bridge, it is your mental processes that are at play. You need internal focus to solve problems. And you need to tune in to external cues. Alas, internal focus is also the stuff of emotions, so it is a pretty tall order to stay tuned.

For those players whose technical knowledge is still lacking - (say what is the percentage play with ATxxx opposite 9xx for 3 tricks) - , additional internal focus is required to solve the problem at the table, taking your focus away from the game to a potential internal worry (Do I really know what I am doing?)

It should be no surprise that adding this to the need to constantly shift of attention, our mental energy is severly taxed and bridge players all over make mistakes that they should not make. It can then be pretty tough to keep our concentration levels they where they should be. (more on this later - Concentration )

Witness the final of Italy versus USA during the bridge championship in Monte Carlo. If dummy had not been a source of distraction by leaving the table (causing declarer to momentrarily switch to internal focus), would the result have been the same?http://www.worldbridge.org/tourn/MonteCarlo.03/Monaco.htm

1 comment:

  1. Keep working on this post, Cath. You are certainly onto something !