Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Practice, practice, practice – bridge and tennis

Ray and I loke this old joke.  A woman is wandering around in New York City and looks a but lost. She stops and asks a passerby, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The passerby looks back at her quite seriously and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”

When I was a child my parents organized piano lessons which I took from when I was about six years old and until when I was around fourteen. I liked the lessons; I liked playing; but I didn’t really like practising. 

My dad would put a clock on top of the piano. He would set a timer for half an hour. I was not allowed to leave the piano until the stop watch reached the appointed time. You can imagine how I felt about that.

Somehow I learned to play the piano anyway. But as I learn tennis I have a very different attitude. I want to practice every day. Practice isn’t always fun. I have attempted hundreds of serves and mostly failed at getting anything that remotely resembles one. But it is the only way to a good tennis game. Joe has commented on questions from students (or their parents) who have not improved after many tennis lessons. When he asks them he finds out that they have not practiced the new ideas at all between lessons  (or maybe even played.)  You can’t improve that way.

My bridge students all like to play if they can find a game. A few play at home and fewer still on BBO. There are other ways to practice too: Watching other people play and thinking about what they do, working through a bridge book and trying the exercises and examples, practice bidding with your favorite partner, writing down notes about what bids mean. Of course playing is great too, especially if you discuss and walk-through the hands after the game.

I have a friend at The Landings called Cynthia. She brings hands to show me after her duplicate games. We discuss them together. This is another way to learn. Think about what you did right and wrong.

You never really bmaster the game of bridge – there is always something new to think about and learn. That is part of why it is so much fun.

Do I like writing long notes about my bidding system? Do I like practising bidding with a partner? Do I like going through my mistakes and thinking about them? As I think about it I like it a lot more than I used to like practising the piano when I was a kid. I need to help my students to find good ways to practice and to like it too!



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