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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Get Fit Get Sharp Play Better Bridge

Good morning folks

For the first 20 years of my bridge life bridge was a game of cards and a few pints. Sometimes it was a good few pints. However nowadays I cannot drink more then 3 pints in a sitting so these days I usually only drink a guinness when finished playing.
I was reading an article this morning about Poker and there was nothing about cards or bluffs or re-raises or coming over the top or pushing folk off their pot. It was all about the connection of physical fitness to cognitive function.
This connection has been suspected for a long time, particularly in the elderly, whose declines in memory can be stopped or even reversed by a program of physical exercise. But until recently we didn't know exactly why this happened, and we weren't sure if it also helped younger people.

It turns out the reason is simple. Physical exercise boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of brain metabolism, specifically of lactate, glucose and an insulin-like growth factor, and it does so across the board: in rats, monkeys and people of all ages.
Simplifying a bit, these compounds are to your brain as gasoline is to an internal combustion engine. They're the fuel. 
My interest in the above was set in motion when recently visiting the house of a top Irish bridge and poker player. I was surprised to hear two of the best bridge players in Ireland having a discussion on finite amounts of glucose. 
Years ago we used to call Lucozade "overtrick juice" but we always had a pint of beer heading into the last couple of rounds. Then one day Paul Delaney knocked over his "overtrick juice" on the Regent floor and the Club Manager Mr Declan Byrne declined to stock this carpet staining liquid anymore. 
Seems current thinking is we should have stuck to the lucozade. 
The game of bridge, when it is played at its highest levels with the strongest opponents, is the most complex and mentally demanding game that is played routinely by members of our species.
So why should we turn up at the bridge table tired and lethargic and sometimes even angry. Far better to go for a walk beforehand or do some other exercise to get the engine running. I personally am no advertisement for physical fitness but I am making an effort. 
One of my neighbours is a walking fanatic and he keeps knocking on my door everytime he is going for a walk. Worse still if I indicate unwillingness or unavailability he pushes on my guilt buttons and asks for my dog and the lead. He brings my dog with him but as soon as he lets my  dog off the lead my dog heads back home. Anyway it has certainly boosted by exercise levels. 
I also started doing some press ups and situps... started with 5 of each with a struggle but can now go comfortably past 20 of each. Of course there is the option of hitting the gym and paying for the exercise but bridge players are notoriously mean so get out in that field near your house for free. 
Of course the game of golf that many bridge players love is another way of getting fresh air and exercise. 
Of course one also has to learn the techniques and skills of bridge bidding, defense and card-play. One cannot succeed at any game of skill without learning how to work the machine. Its also very hard to read bridge out of a book. One also needs to work the machine. In the old days this meant laying out the cards on the table and playing thru the hand. These days there are many pieces of computer software to aid this exercise. 
Above is the link to Wbridge5 a fine 16 board tourney where you play against 3 robots. 
Lets see how we are doing this month.
Here you will find several well known Irish bridge players. I won't identify any by name but the people who know these folk will be able to identify them. 

And don't forget the major Bridge event is coming up in Galway. 5000 euro for the winning pair. 
August 3rd and 4th. 

Hi Eamon,

Just want to remind people to enter in good time to
Dave Walsh at 0876690178 or
Fergal O'Boyle at 0862652871 or

If anyone needs help getting accommodation they should contact FIntan Gavin at 0830022889 or

Things are building up nicely.



I heard a story that after Thomas McCormac the next President of the CBAI will be the leading bridge Tournament Director Fergal O'Boyle .. Good choice by the North Western region. 
Everybody loves Fergal even if he knows the rules better than all of us. 

Does anybody know somebody who won an arguement with Fergal. 

Above you can visit the North Western division of the CBAI. 

Eamon Galligan

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