Nick Fahrer is the owner of ‘The Bridge Shop’ in Sydney, Australia. The following review was published in the Australian Bridge Federation Newsletter in April 2020.
We all want to become better bridge players…. don’t we? I’d say most of us who want better results focus on improving at a partnership level: we discuss system and defense with our partners, and go over the hands after the session.
To get to the next level – regularly winning club duplicates, getting good results at congresses or bigger events – requires more than a fancy system card. You need the right mental approach and attitude. This is where Kim Frazer can help you out. Kim is a well credentialed, Commonwealth Games gold medal winner. Her discipline was target shooting, a sport that requires he utmost in focus and mental stamina.
Kim draws parallels with shooting and bridge – a loss of focus and concentration means you miss a target or misplay or mis-defend a hand. The whole book is full of good, common-sense practical advice, and checklists of what we need to do to up our mental game.
My favourite chapter is Comfort Zones. Aspiring players need to firstly recognise where their comfort zone sits (complexity of bidding system, familiarity of playing environment and opponents, ability to cope with poor or even good results). Greater success should come with expanding your comfort zone. Kim presents this list of elements you should target:
- Foster good habits during the card play: brush up on your knowledge of card combinations, count the hand out, watch all the card pips.
- Know your system inside out. Review your system before each event, and practise bidding regularly with your partner. You’ll be surprised what comes up while practising.
- Increase your exposure to being outside your comfort zone. Play more congresses and national events, and switch from Restricted to Open events.
- Learn to maintain focus. When playing or defending, think solely about the hand, not what’s going on at the table next door, or what you plan for lunch.
- Learn to relax at the table. If you’re dummy, zone out of the hand and just play the cards your partner calls for.
- Imagine yourself in situations outside your comfort zone. Get warmed up for playing at the top tables by imagining you are actually there, or visualising.
- Change your ‘self-talk’. Don’t get negative when you’re in a hopeless contract; think positively about how to minimise the penalty or what contract the opponents may be making.
No matter your playing level, there is plenty of good material in this book to recalibrate your mental approach to your game.