Magazine article The Spectator

Stop and Think

Magazine article The Spectator

Stop and Think

Article excerpt

I'VE always suspected that pessimists make better card players than optimists - and now there's proof. A recent study by a group of psychologists from Central Michigan University has found that pessimists do better at the gaming table because - unlike optimists - they tend to remember their losses rather than their winnings, and so become less reckless and more cautious.

This sort of caution is even more important at bridge: by assuming the worst each time you play, you are far better prepared when things do go wrong. Optimists, trusting all will be well, often play too quickly to the very first trick - with disastrous results. More than half the players at a recent duplicate tournament did just that when tackling this hand:

West led the [diamonds]10. The optimists in the room - delighted to be given a ruff-and-discard - ruffed in dummy and threw a spade from hand. The contract was now secure if hearts broke 3-2. …

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