Discussing Hands at the Table

The previous post discussed pairs duplicate bridge being a timed game and some courtesies that can help everyone play within the time constraints.

I’d like to discuss one of those in a little more detail as it is one of the ones that causes the most problems and is one of the most irritating for other players. This particular one involves discussing hands before all the boards for the current round have been completed or, even worse, continuing to sit at a table and discuss a hand after the round has been called.

Directors running a bridge game judge roughly seven minutes a board, including the overhead of round changes — so about 15 minutes for a two-board round and 20 for a three-board round.

If you spend three extra minutes discussing that last board after the round has been called, you will be approximately 1/2 a board behind before even sitting down at the next table and here’s the rub… The pair waiting to start the round at the table you are still sitting at, are also a 1/2 board behind. You have caused not one, but two tables to be behind.

What are the reasons we discuss a deal? Generally it’s not being sociable nor is it because we’ve discovered some gaping hole in our bidding system (or carding agreements). Sometimes one player has asked how he “should” have bid, played or defended a hand. All too often, though, it’s a player showing off his “superior” knowledge of the game — usually at his partner’s or opponents’ expense.

Of course we are not always conscious that we are doing this. We may even believe we are doing someone a favour by explaining his error.

A timed pairs duplicate is not the time or the place to be giving bridge lessons. It can also be embarrassing to other players and thereby spoil their enjoyment of the game.

We all, including me, need to make sure we don’t fall into this trap.

Keep system discussions to the time between rounds (i.e. after the boards are all finished and before the move for the next round is called). An even better approach is to jot a reminder in your personal score and have all the discussions after the game over a coffee or beer.

The bottom line is that we need to avoid these discussions at the table.

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