Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Playing Up

I have been having a discussion with some bridge players I am mentoring about playing against players who have a higher skill level, at least some of the time.

They are intermediate to advanced players with a mature bidding system  incorporating weak notrump. They can consistently hold their own against players of their level and they find the weak notrump an effective tool.

But when they played against Ray and I who are experts the have consistently lost some imps on BBO. They found this frustrating.

Looking at a broader issue, when intermediate level players play in events that are unlimited or against players at a higher skill level, is that a good thing or a bad thing.

I personally think it is a good thing if approached properly. Sure you are going to lose most of the time but you learn more from your mistakes than your successes and you can look at the way that good players treat different situations. If you approach it as a way to learn I think it can be rewarding.

I think there is a place for restricted games but I think we should also encourage players to play up and when they do treat them in a friendly and respectful manner.

I was trying to relate this to playing tennis, a game I am learning. Playing in a few “open” fun games I found that despite being nervous initially I enjoyed it and I did learn things.

Not ever player was nice to me but most were. And this was in a game where expert players were forced to be my partner some of the time.

Shouldn’t we encourage students to try their luck against the best?


Judy Kay-WolffJune 20th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Hi Linda:

I am rushing down to meet Bobby for an early breakfast (6 a.m. here) at The Riviera at the Regional – but I felt compelled to respond to your blog,

Yes, it is an absolutely marvelous recommendation. And, newbies should also keep in mind that merely because people have many more masterpoints than they — they are not necessarily experts. They may have been just playing longer and more frequently as gluts of MPS are now available. That should not intimidate them. However — there is so much they could be gleaned and as you say — “playing up” is a great method of improving,

Another suggestion is following Steve Bloom’s new blogsite which is, IMHO, as good as it gets. It does not talk down to newer players and his presentation can’t be beat So reading lessons and playing above one’s head are terrific opportunities on the way to raising the level of one’s game. You gotta have your head bashed in on occasion. It has happened to all of us.

Great subject matter!



Stuart KingJune 20th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I find that if I don’t play against better players, if I’m not careful, my game suffers. You start to do enough to win rather than what’s best, and you often don’t get punished for mistakes so you keep making them. If I could I would always play against good players.

Morris JonesJune 20th, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I always suggest to my newer players that they play in open games once in a while. While getting their timepieces laundered, and their humility firmly in place, they can take their newfound skill and confidence back to the novice games and do better. Worked for me. Besides, you might find yourself with a good result.

David Memphis MOJO SmithJune 21st, 2013 at 3:53 am

I think who should play up, depends on the person. Some won’t learn from it, so all that will happen is that they get frustrated. Some will “get something out of it” so for them, it’s a good thing.

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