Monday, April 9, 2012

Was it fear?

Nothing to fear but fear itself
(Rosevelt said at his inaugural speech)

 It is well understood that anxiety is a big undermining factor in performance. A few of my posts touch on the topic. But anxiety itself must be better understood to have a chance to counter its negative effects.
Anxiety could be a personality trait but it is not that which I am addressing it. Best to leave that topic to the life counselor. This post deals with the short term state anxiety caused by a specific event.
One of the things that can lead us out of The Zone.
  • Stress - A state that results from demands being placed on someone such that he or she must find coping mechanism.
  • Arousal - The recognizable physiological signs that tell a person that they have entered a stressful state.
  • Anxiety - A result of someone who doubts his or her ability to cope with the situation that is causing stress.

Anxiety comes in different variety that may not even be recognized by the person who experiences it. You cannot fight what you cannot see. At the same time, it is a  very useful mechanism without which you can easily become fool hardy.
Clearly a lot more to be said on this topic but to illustrate the point, I saw a few hands during the last Australian Playoffs that could well have been a direct result of anxiety. If you play bridge in Australia, you do not get many opportunity to be challenged, excluding maybe professional players who must at least face a different kind of challenge. So it is easy to get lulled into a sense of  greatness and find youself anxious in a more difficult situation.
But enough talking and back to a bridge hand. I have been called an overbidder so maybe my perception is shaded by my own view of the game.

Dealer, you open 1D
Double on your left and partner responds 1H.
Your bid?

Well one south player elected to show his spades and the pair ended up in 4S which is a lucky making game.
At the other table however, the dealer bid of 4D which passed by partner for 1 off.
Now, it is lucky indeed to be in 4 spade making in a 5/2 fit. However, I believe that you have to be there to be lucky.

So why would any player bypass bidding a 5 card suit which such a shapely hand?

At the time, the score was about 20 imps ahead in favor in south. But there is little doubt that the double by the left hand opponent triggered the chain of mental state anxiety that led to the suppression of that nice spade suit. After all, the opening bid was not the strongest in terms of HCP. The player may well have been thinking (and still thinking) that he was dealing with a situation with logic when in fact cognitifve anxiety was hard at work but unrecognized. (Well I will not be asking! Maybe 4 diamond was a bid to show 5 spades on the side)

To be continued ...........

Well the hand is worth showing since the bidding was recorded incorrectly. Give due where due is du and sack the vugraph operator!


  1. The bidding was wrongly recorded on the above hand. 1D, X by me, 1H 3C 3S 3NT by me 4D all pass. The play also is misrecorded online, e.g. the cards I played at Tricks 1, 2 and 3 are all wrongly recorded.

  2. Excellent! More what you expect from a playoff match.
    North might have considered bidding 4S over 4D.
    After all he had an A.
    What North the one who was suffering from state anxiety? Or is it just me?
    I have updated the post to show all hands.