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  • Stephanie Zajac

Life’s A Game Of Bridge: A Metaphor

Updated: Jan 18, 2020



Modern-day bridge has deep roots in the world of card games. Its forerunner, a game called whilst, began in the 18th century in England, which eventually spawned the game of auction bridge. In 1925, after modifications and added features to the game, contract bridge was developed on a ship. It’s traditionally played with four people, consisting of two partnerships that enter a “contract.” When it’s a more competitive play on a larger scale, it’s called duplicate bridge. And if it’s just for fun? Party bridge. 60% of the American Contract Bridge League are female players, and 95% are over the age of 60. My nana falls right into that statistic.


She taught me how to play the other night, and while I was enthralled by the rules of the game, I was mostly concerned with how analogous the game is with life.


Each player has a deck of 13 cards. Naturally, you never know what you're going to get⁠—just to extend this metaphor over to Forrest Gump.


The first part of the game consists of bidding. You’ve sorted through your cards and assessed how risky you want to be. You go for the suit with the highest number of cards and the most face cards⁠—then you make your bid accordingly. The more confident you are about a potential success with your best suit, the more you’ll bid. You’re ready to pave your path to success, and you attempt that with your first bid. But, you have a partner, and your bids depend on each other.


The way my nana phrased it was interesting. “As partners, you’re trying to make it fit, so you try out every way possible to make it work. If it doesn’t, you move on.” This reminded me of a relationship. If things are good for both partners on an individual level (good morals, confidence, general happiness) and your belief systems are similar and compatible, you’re likely to be set up for success. If not, you’ll spend so much time trying to get on the same page.


The bidding process unfolds in a similar fashion. Sometimes, your partnership isn’t a great match. You spend so much time trying to make it a match, but it winds up in a non-trump. You can’t find a suit that works for both of you, so you never really get there.


If you both have a good hand and these hands are pretty similar on a foundational level, you’ll be set up for success. If not, you’ll spend so much time trying to get on the same page. It’s like two people who are on the same page in different books. Unfortunate, but once you recognize it, you can move on and not spend too much time hung up on that loss.


The rest of the game is pretty involved, but the basic gist is simple. There are things you can control in life, just as there are things you cannot control. You can’t control the hand you’re dealt, but you can try to make good decisions and know when to stop bidding on things that are unreachable. A certain point comes where you decide to move on or not. There will be a number of victories and a number of losses⁠—the ebbs and flows⁠—but you will continue to learn, meet other kind souls, and try your best with any hand you’re dealt, and that’s just how the game of life goes.

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