Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Less Politeness Please

I am thinking about a rule.  When I am doing a mentoring session that I ask players to stop congratulating each other.  This is what I mean and if you think I am misguided feel free to tell me.  I don’t mind the good luck partner, thank you partner ritual that occurs in online bridge when you put the dummy down.  And no mistake about it, that is what it is a ritual.  It is meaningless.  The only time it might have meaning is if you were so furious with partner that you could not bring yourself to type GLP or TYP.  But of course, that is a bad idea since it does give away information to opponents.  Which brings me back to meaningless.  It is not polite.  It is a ritual.

What irks me more is the “well done partner” or “well done opponents” after a deal.  Now if somebody did something spectacular on defense or on dummy play like a clash squeeze or an incredible shift on defense than I can get it.  But when partner draws trump and takes a finesse for his ten tricks in four spades… give me a break.

I think it is most common among intermediate players.  Maybe because drawing trump and/or taking a finesse is more of a triumph.  But to me it detracts from the seriousness of the game.  If you are playing socially (“pass the jam, well played Martha”) fine but when you are doing a lesson you should be concentrating.

When I say well done than you know you have done something really awesome.  It is worth stopping to admire it.

Am I being to hard on people?  Is being this polite or this nice really a good thing?  Should I encourage people to be seriously competitive?  I guess it depends on your goals.  If I am working with people who want to compete than they should be focused.  Not only that but when I am competing I am not all that happy when somebody does something good against me, great I can admire but good doesn’t make me happy.

So I want to start a new rule with serious students .. no more Ms or Mr Nice Guy.  Just play your cards and save the congratulations for the truly awesome.


PaulFebruary 21st, 2011 at 9:11 am

Perhaps just for defences like this:

Stuart KingFebruary 21st, 2011 at 9:26 am

So much of what is considered politeness is merely ritual. I’m not sure what your getting at? That your OK with the ritual of thanking partner for the dummy and wishing your partner good luck but not with congratulating the opponents or partner for doing something routine?

I agree that if your playing in some sort of practice enviroment these rituals can be disposed of but I don’t see why you wouldn’t drop all ritual in such circumstances?

I would always congratulate the opponents when playing in a random event or on BBO; what is routine for me might not be for the opponents and while I might think it unremarkable congratulating them can only be a good thing, it only increases the enjoyment for everyone around the table and surely that can’t be a bad thing. If I genuinely did think that a contract was played particularly well I might throw in a well played or the like.

I also find that congratulating the opponents, even for a lucky result, makes me feel better about it. Why revel in my own dissatisfaction at my poor result when I can share in my opponents joy at thier good one?

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 21st, 2011 at 10:12 am


I feel even stronger than you about the issue. You are talking about students who are learning and hopefully will move on to the big times. It is one thing at the live bridge table — as opposed to on line bridge. Although it does not make your opponents happy campers.

I have vehement feelings about congratulatory behavior. If it is a nice opening lead, switch, end play, squeeze, etc., I always make a complimentary remark to the OPPONENT. However, if you get a top or a very fine result because of the above, I feel it is wrong to congratulate partner. The opponents have suffered a bad result. Don’t rub it in. Wait, at least, until they have left the table and then quietly admire your partner’s brilliance.

Otherwise, you are rubbing their noses in it. To me GLOATING is only second to CHEATING. I find it repulsive. When, on rare occasion, I have done something exceptional, I have asked Bobby though he says it in a nice way — to wait until the opponents are no longer within earshot. They already feel bad enough. Don’t heighten their dismay. If I get a poor result, I take it on the chin and move on. That’s life at the bridge table.

I know a lot of people may disagree, but I live within my own code of ethics. When it comes to huddles, hitches, taking advantage of such, etc., I am the first to speak up as it should be eliminated from the game and since most (not all) directors don’t want to antagonize their paying customers, they often close their eyes. These are practices that must be stopped and players have to be made aware that it is not part of the ethical game for which we are all responsible.

Linda LeeFebruary 21st, 2011 at 11:29 pm

What I mean by ritual is that you always say it but it has no real meaning to you or your partner. (GLP and TYP). It is done for form’s sake rather than for any other purpose. Consistently congratulating partner or the opponents when they make ordinary plays is not intended to do anything other than be nice. I don’t like saying bad things to partner or opponents but I also don’t like automatic congratulations. Its worse when the hand isn’t even done yet where it does border on unethical.

I understand the part about not congratulating partner .. it may be seen as gloating. But congratulating the opponents should be reversed for special occasion IMHO.

Coming from a country where people say sorry when you step on their toes (I shouldn’t have occupied the space, perhaps?) I am well attuned to being polite. But all the congratulations takes away from the competitive nature of the game.

I am not advocating being nasty either of course.

Felix ShenFebruary 22nd, 2011 at 4:52 am

I cannot help but to point our the meaninglessness whenever my opp congratulates his partner because I or my partner made a mistake and they made their contract.

It is the most stupid to me.

Linda LeeFebruary 22nd, 2011 at 9:51 am

Yes Felix. That is the one that bugs me the most too. I wonder if they really noticed the defensive error. I like to think they are not rubbing it in.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonFebruary 25th, 2011 at 9:54 am

HBJ commenting :

Yes, I know exactly where you are coming from. And boy is it irritating when it is clearly uncalled for. Mind you there are occasions when every now and again partner’s flagging confidence needs boosting, or if you are partnering a beginner then I see no harm praising, supporting and encouraging that person when the occasion seems appropriate.

But falsely praising partner when it is evident the opponents have fallen asleep or have gone astray, it is not only insulting but highly provocative. In such circumstances you have blessed with good fortune and therefore nothing needs to be said.

Al StauberFebruary 25th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Hi Linda,

I’m not so sure about all of this. My partners often congratulate me and the opps must not mind because they usually smile or even applaud, even if it’s only re taking a finesse. Here a common example:

Partner to me: Go finesse yourself!

Often quickly followed by —

Partner to me again: Well done partner!

Note: Sometimes partners reverse the order of these two things, but the opps don’t seem to mind that either.


Al the Plumber

Dustin StoutMarch 1st, 2011 at 11:52 am

Linda, I absolutely agree. I’ve even seen the occasional pair congratulate each other (or the opponents) on EVERY single hand! It literally makes me sick.

Sally SparrowMarch 3rd, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I often play online with my Mum and her students. These are people I have not met in real life, and meet for the first time that night, and who are delighted to learn I’m the daughter of their bridge teacher. Some are beginners, but some have been playing or taking classes for several years. I find that we do a lot of congratulating, or of saying “nice try” when someone goes down in their contract, even when you can plainly see that they messed up badly. Hopefully that then becomes a teaching point, but the chatter is merely to encourage them, which in turn (in my opinion) promotes enthusiasm for the game and playing online.

I find that there are certain players who never say anything when playing online. Maybe they are new to the program and don’t really know how to “chat” (this is often the case). Or they have to concentrate more, or maybe they are trying to be more professional. But I don’t get the enjoyment from them I get from the others, I don’t feel like I’ve “met” them and interacted with them. Maybe this is a result of playing with people I have never met, but don’t you often do that online? I enjoy the banter, and most especially the discussion after the hands. Perhaps I am not yet at the stage of my bridge career that allows me to enjoy bridge simply for the hands themselves. I need to share with others, learn from what I am doing wrong, and hear some encouragement and feedback.

Leave a comment

Your comment