The paper is titled ‘Playing your Life: Developing Strategies and Managing Impressions in the Game of Bridge’. It is authored by Professor Samantha Punch and Dr Miriam Snellgrove and published in Sociological Research Online.
The article analyses the skills that world class players demonstrate at the highest level of tournament bridge. By examining the experiences of leading players, the researchers show that bridge is a challenging, multi-faceted and fascinating mindsport.
An ability to read people and scenarios strategically is a skill required for success at an elite level. So too is an ability to respond with discipline to changing situations. Nurturing a trusting relationship with one’s partner during play is another essential.
The research provides evidence that skills such as strategic planning, flexibility in problem-solving, and concentration can be developed at the bridge table. There is also some evidence that elite players have applied these skills to other areas of their life.
The findings are based on an analysis of transcripts of interviews with 52 elite bridge players mainly from the USA and the UK. Professor Punch of the University of Stirling carried out the interviews. She and her research team at Bridge: A MindSport for All (BAMSA) analysed the findings as part of the Bridging Minds project.
Professional bridge player Artur Malinowski (pictured) is one of the subjects of the study. The title of the paper is borrowed from his interview. Artur was recounting something a champion bridge player had once said to him. ‘He said the real bridge player was the guy whose wife just left him, the dog ran away and the flat was flooded and he goes to the tournament and plays, he plays his best, but forgetting. Sitting playing, knowing how to play your life.’
Pictured top is world champion, Fredrik Nyström, planning his next move at the World Championship in Wuhan, China, in September 2019. (Photo credit: Francesca Canali and the World Bridge Federation.)
Punch S, and Snellgrove, M (2020) ‘Playing your Life: Developing Strategies and Managing Impressions in the Game of Bridge’, Sociological Research Online https://doi.org/10.1177/1360780420973043