Honor Your Partner

by Mark Horton
As printed in the Boston NABC Bulletins, November, 1999.

Mark Horton is an English bridge journalist who discussed "How to be a good partner" at recent World Junior Bridge Camp.

Consider your partner to be a friend. Treat your partner well, even (especially) if you are playing together for the first time. Always offer your partner a drink -- tea or coffee is a good starting point. This will lead to a relaxed atmosphere, enabling you both to play your best. By the way, always be a pleasant and courteous opponent.

Tolerate errors. Never go on about partner's mistakes -- just forget about them and move on to the next deal. You may be able to make a constructive comment at the end of the session. Your partner will surely show you the same consideration.

Be encouraging. Always be prepared to support your partner -- "well played" always goes down well and a "thank you" for the dummy does not go amiss. In one of my partnerships, if dummy was exactly what was needed, "mille grazie" would let partner in on the good news!

Keep a straight face. Never make the mistake of pulling a face or raising an eyebrow. Apart from hurting your partner's feelings, being deadpan does not let your opponents know that something may have gone wrong.

Win or lose, always stay calm at the end of the session and thank partner for the game. This is especially important if things have not gone so well. In my most successful international partnership, the first time we played together was absolutely hope less but we stuck with it.

Coping with disaster: The best way to cope with the inevitable disasters is to laugh them off. This tends to disconcert even the best opponents who are used to seeing their opponents argue.

Conventions: Stick to the ones you both feel comfortable with. A player trying to remember some convention he is not familiar with will make errors in other departments.

I recently played in a tournament in the Netherlands with a strange partner. We would have won but for a couple of expensive mistakes when I forgot a couple of things because we were playing some conventions I was not familiar with.

Who's the boss? In most partnerships, one player tends to be regarded as the boss. If you are the stronger player, go out of your way to make life easy for your partner.

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