Luck in Bridge can be quite a heavy topic for some players. So, they would blame the lady luck for them not performing well on the scoreboard. Well, perhaps due to the vagueness of this “problem”, you probably can get a PhD degree researching this matter. But forget about that. Let us see how we get (or not getting) our luck in Bridge in a more practical manner.
Firstly, a quick definition
One can define “luck” as “[unlikely] good outcome outside your control from a random event “. However, if it is an unfortunate result, we call it “bad luck” or “unlucky “.
So, when you cash out your Ace in a 4-4 fit and the King drop, then you can say you are lucky. True. Because:
- It is [unlikely]. The chance of King being a singleton is about only 5.6%
- It’s a good outcome
- It is outside your control -and-
- It’s from a random event (it is pre-shuffled hand)
You might notice a square bracket on the word “unlikely” above. It was intentional as we want to put a lingering question about that word in the back of your mind:
“Does an event have to be [unlikely] before you consider it as a “lucky” event?”
We will get back on this topic later.
Technically, no more luck factor
For most of the younger player, the word “Rubber Bridge” would probably have little or no meaning at all. It is understandable because we do not play it anymore nowadays.
But as we know it, it has a lot of luck factor. If you shuffle a deck of cards so that you and your partner have most of the point, you will likely to win the game. Or at least, easier.
These days, we all play a “duplicate” bridge. So, players will play the same board/distribution in a session. Whoever got the point is no longer a concern. And yet, it is possible and likely to produce a different result for each table.
In a way, this mechanism has already removed the “luck factor” from Bridge1Otherwise, Bridge cannot be categorized as sport2. Because everybody in the competition practically playing the same board, then whoever has more skill will be the winner.
Is that always true?
So, does “luck” still play an essential role in Bridge, then?
Let us see some examples.
You know finesse is a 50-50 chance, so being a better Bridge player, you will try to get closer to 100% chance by using a different playing technique. For example, instead of a simple finesse, you play an end-play or throw-in, getting better chance than 50%.
Guess what? It turns out, the field has too many beginner players – they do not know how to do end play, but sure they can do finesse. You end up on bottom board because with finesse they all produced +1 result.
You, the more experienced and skilful one, only produce a +0.
So, is this because you are unlucky?
Another example: you know this not-so-good player come to your table. So, you think or plan to get a better score from them. When the bidding finished, and your partner make the opening lead, you can see that they have a total of 36 HCP and only play at 4H. “Oh, lucky,” you think, “They should have been in a slam”.
Unfortunately, that thinking is proven to be wrong. The declarer will always lose 1-Ace, and 1-trump trick as the 5-4 fit cannot pick up 4-trump cards hold by your partner. So, are you unlucky now?
Let’s get another example to make sure that you are “unlucky”. How many times did you, as declarer, see (post mortem, of course) that opening lead you receive was the one possible for killing the contract? I mean if the defender did not lead a heart, you might make the contract. And upon examining the opening-lead hand, there is no particular reason for leading the Heart. Is this just because you are not lucky?
Do you really have no luck in Bridge?
In all examples above, you become lucky or not lucky (and perhaps in all other events in general) as a function of your expectation. I.e., you are unlucky because you do not get what you want.
Because it is “unlikely” to be happening, but it is, then you will say that it is “unlucky” (or “lucky”).
Do the other way around: if it is likely to be happening, and when it is happening, will you consider you to be lucky (or unlucky)? Maybe not, because we take it for granted and say to ourselves that it is the way it should be.
One easy way that I know to make it much less frustration is: you need to accept that any event that you do not have control will constitute a random event. Which means you will not know the exact result.
Now, if you did not cause it, i.e., you have no control of it, is it fair if it is blamed on you when the result is not the one you favour? Of course not!
For example: if you consider yourself “unlucky” when you fail to finesse that King (i.e., because you are unlucky, the King is offside), have you ever thought that every single person – even the luckiest person on the planet – will always fail to finesse that particular King? Is this mean everybody is unlucky? Again the answer is, no.
So, what happens? Nothing. A random event happens all the time. The difference is whether you want to put a notice on it or not. That choice is why some people define luck as “random event taken personally “.
Remember any single happening on our life is practically neutral (have no meaning) – it is up to each of us individually to assign a meaning to it.
That’s why two-person that sit side by side and experience the same thing could “feel” differently about that same event – this is because the different beliefs and experiences that we have in the past “help” (or “not helping”) us to put a meaning to it.
What we discuss above actually can be applied to all aspect of our life. Life is just that: full of unknown event that gives you a random result. You can try to keep track of all the lucky one and unlucky one -or- take it easy and use your energy to do better things: like memorise all those bidding systems.
Does it have to be [unlikely] to be lucky?
Let’s go back to answer this critical question. What is your answer?
You should answer with “No”.
Because everything is only your perception, you can freely change, modify or alter an anticipated event to become unlikely so that you can experience “luck”. The reverse also true, you can become “unlucky” as an unlikely event did not happen (as it should be). It is all relative. For example:
- You play for a drop in a 5-5 fit (a likely event). But once you cash the Ace, your RHO show void in the trump and you have one sure loser. So, if you only play a game contract, this unlikely event still considered a good outcome as you mumble “Lucky we did not bid the slam.” But, if you bid the slam, you will say that you are unlucky.
- You finesse a Queen and lose (a neutral or 50-50 chance). The same as above. If your contract is only a game, you will feel “lucky” that you did not bid slam. But if your contract is the slam, then you will say you are “unlucky”. But the event is precisely the same. It is all relative, “after the fact.” I hope you get my illustration. Unless you cheat and peek the card before play, there is no way you can be sure whether the finesse will work. So, it is a random event with a 50% chance. That’s it.
So, an event could be likely, unlikely or neutral, but depending on your circumstances after the fact, you can call it “lucky” or “unlucky”. Thus, that’s why the odds itself is no longer critical. All is just your perception. Everything is only in your head.
I remember a phrase made famous by the great golfer Gary Player
“The more I practise, the luckier I am “
Why it become popular? Because it is, in a way, a true statement. You make your luck. By “you”, I mean “your skill” – something that you did with your learning, experience and practice will create a better result.
But then, yes, sometimes that very skill is the one that “makes” you “unlucky.” Remember the example of the finesse vs “end-play” above?
However, deep down, you know that it can go both ways because it is a random event.
Well, the good thing about a random event is that “Law Of Average” will apply in the long run. So, in the end, it is up to you to decide whether that particular random event become personal and lead you to a belief that you are a lucky person (or not a lucky person).
In other words, you allow a random event brand you. Come on, do not let a random event defines who you are. That is ridiculous.
What to do to create luck in Bridge?
To make everything more making-sense, more logical, empowering, and of course, get a better result, do this:
- Know your statistics and knowledge
- Apply that knowledge consistently. For example, with no other information, always cash in your Ace and King in 5-4 fit for a queen drop.
Remember, this is the exact explanation of why the gambler cannot beat a casino: the odds are in favour of the house. The casino doesn’t care for individual lost. They only care about the summary of profit at the end of every financial year.
So, in other words, it is actually *your decision* that “label” you to be a “lucky” player or an “unlucky” one!
“Whether you think you are lucky bridge player, or you think you are an unlucky one, either way, you are right!“— By 7NTbyme. (Paraphrasing Henry Ford’s)
Therefore, decide NOW that you are the luckiest player on the field – and the luck in Bridge will be no longer a problem for you.