Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Retiring … Why?

I wanted to write about why I decided to retire.  When I was in Regina I was completely totally exhausted.  Have you every tried to play all 72 boards of a final when you are so tired that you can’t sort your cards or count to 13?  I knew the night before that I was completely exhausted.  I talked to Ray and told him that there was no way I could play a normal game (never mind my best one).  The first set I played in the final my brain was simply not there.

I couldn’t remember what conventions we played when asked.  I missorted my hand.  I miscounted my points.  I suppose some people can play, at least decently, when tired.  I cannot.  When I am exhausted my brain leaves my body.  I think Regina was one of the worst cases of exhaustion for me ever.  It wasn’t till today that I felt normal.  The last three days I slept a lot and I did basically nothing.

So then you think well perhaps if I played on a 6 person team I could still play in events like this.  It certainly would be better.

The biggest problem I have is performance anxiety.  This is those bad feelings you get when you are preparing to play in something important.  I have a bad case of this all the time.  It can strike even when I plan to play in a regional.  Avoidance is perhaps not the best strategy but I use it a lot.  I have tried my techniques and I have a routine when I play that helps.  When I don’t know the system well it is much much worse.  It also means I can’t sleep when I am playing in a multi-day event, I can’t eat properly (I basically live on juice most of the time).  And quite often I get sick.  I have been sick in every world championship I have played in.

I have often questioned whether it is worth it to go through all of that.  As I get older my body is less able to handle these problems.  I have talked to sports psychologists and I do have some techniques to help.  But every time I play in something important I ask myself “is it worth it?”

One of the reasons I like to play is I like being part of a team.  I liked the camaraderie.  But I have found that some of the serious teams I have been on lacked that.  Everybody was so focused on winning that they really weren’t too concerned about socializing especially during the event.  This is probably the way it should be.  But it took away some of the pleasure for me.  I know that in future if I play on teams in less serious competition that will be part of the joy.

My memory is not as good as it used to be and needs to be.  I know I am not the only one with this problem.  I talked to others who told me they had the same problem.  I played a fairly complex system with most of it new and unfamiliar to me and without a lot of time to integrate it.  I tried hard to memorize many sequences, a lot of them not consistent.  I created cute ways to memorize things.  But still several times I just blanked out.  I couldn’t remember some parts at all.  My mind just “blanked out”.  Once I just bailed by jumping to game in our suit.  I am not capable of managing this even without stress.  I was worried about it before I left for the Regina.

The worst thing is that under stress I lose spot cards.  Is my 7 really high?  What spot card did partner play?  It is much more work to count out hands.  My brain doesn’t work as fast as it once did.  All these things are magnified when I am tired.

I need a partner at the table who is calm and helps me to stay calm, a Joan Eaton.  But this does not always work out.

Could I still play well?  With a very calm friendly partner, some sleeping pills, a helpful husband near by and a six person team it would be a lot better.   I wouldn’t want to have huge number of system notes and I would want a familiar system.   But then I would have to want to play.  I am not sure that I will find that motivation again.

Why did I want to share these personal things with you?  Because some of you may have the some of these issues too.  If any of you want to discuss some of these issues privately then email me at


David Memphis MOJO SmithMay 30th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I hope you will keep posting.

Linda LeeMay 30th, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Oh yes. I love bridge. I will still play. You will definitely see me at the nationals where I may play some. I plan to be at the ABTA meeting in Toronto this summer to give out the MPP ABTA Teacher of the Year Award!

I will even go to many world championships (reporting and writing and doing Master Point Press work).

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