This blog provides supplementary thoughts and ideas to the site. If you haven't seen the main site, there is a lot there including the Martel and Rodwell interviews, photos, and articles. This blog is focused on advancing bridge theory by discussing the application of new ideas. All original content is copyright 2009 Glen Ashton.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Wall

Late in a long tournament many participants will hit the wall. In marathon running, hitting the wall is a point when the runner experiences dramatic fatigue, often due to, literally, running out of stored energy. For the mind sports, hitting the wall is mental fatigue, and it often shows up in little glitches here and there. You may even still feel you are 100 percent effective, believing everything remains crystal clear, and it is only later you realize that mistakes were happened because something or other was missed due to mental tiredness.

Having done a regional bulletin for many years, mistakes crept into the later bulletins no matter how many checklists I prepared to catch them. Thus I understand how today's bulletin could repeat yesterday's team matches for the Spingold. In addition, like many mistakes, there is no real problem - we can see from the bracket sheet in the bulletin who is playing who today.

In the Wagar final yesterday we had a board (hand 57) where some of the vugraph commentators thought declarer missed the necessary line. Not really a problem as declarer is now pictured on page 1 of the bulletin, as part of the winning team.

However sometimes the mistakes can be killers. On this board Sementa-Duboin of the O'Rourke team quickly reached 4S:

As everybody can see declarer has 10 tricks if he uses clubs for transportation in drawing trumps, after the initial diamond lead. Instead he went down one, losing 10 IMPs and the match.

Did he hit the wall?

First, we are discussing one of the top Italian pro players, and these guys play a lot of bridge all of the time - he could get a touch tired after a few days, but not to the point of true fatigue.

Second, his line appears to be, for the first bit, in searching for a 10th trick, as if his trick count was wrong.

This may have been more a mechanical glitch. Often bridge pros glance at their hands, instead of staring at them. Perhaps a glance had told him he had only six spades, as K98752 looks much like K987532. The 4S bid would indicate he knew he had seven spades during the bidding, but at some point he lost focus, just long enough to lose the match.

It can happen to all of us, even the best of players. This is one more reason to eat well, rest well, and drink in moderation during a long event to maintain your stamina. However you will also need to unwind during a tournament, and donate a few of those precious brain cells to having some fun.


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