Monday, March 26, 2012

The role of gender in the game of bridge

This photo shows the winners from the Roth Open Swiss Teams that concluded yesterday. Take a look at it and see if you notice anything? Well, you may guess from the title what I'm getting at -- they are all men.

Xwing called me this morning. In the last Daily Bulletin, the front page showed photos of all the winners from events that ended Sunday. She pointed out that there were 30 winners and runners-up in open events (not counting the Women's Swiss Teams), and 29 of them were male. There was one young lady who was second in Flight C of the North American Pairs, and that's it.

Why is this? I don't think anyone believes that men are smarter than women, so what skills do men have that translate to winning at bridge (or poker, for that matter)? This has been discussed before and people say men are more aggressive than women and aggressive bridge is winning bridge, and so forth. There must, however, be more to it than that, and I wish I knew the answer. Maybe some social scientist should investigate and write his or her dissertation on the subject.

Photo taken with my P&S.


  1. When I made those remarks about how you should play the tournament, it was inspired by your recent posts. The museum picture of the Gentlemen standing by the wheel of his motor yacht. Then your very nice blue haired President was pictured. Another era and gentile came to mind.

    Why do we participate in the sports we enjoy? It can't all be winning. (Well, poker maybe more than most.) But, the blogs are full of folks trying for another season at a sport their body no longer likes.

    Social aspects seem engrained in the Bridge scene. And provides a rewards to those with a similar perspective. Your blog is proof we're all beyond monoculture. But, many women might see a different winning hand that is passing out the trophies away from the tables.

    I am sure there are ladies as competitive as the best men. But the ratio might be skewed away from such optimal efforts for many.

    What might be interesting is to evaluate players in the ladies events and any manifest change in mixed events.

    This post may get me put on the Neanderthals Most Wanted List. Excuse me and in my defense/penance, I am off to review the proper fork for the fish course.

  2. @KenP: Thanks for your comment. You said: Social aspects seem engrained in the Bridge scene. Bridge is a partnership game and thus, social skills should be important. I think this might be something that women are better at than men. There's concept called captaincy which is important in bidding and in defense. As more information is revealed, sometimes the person who WAS the captain has to let the other become the captain (they have a better idea about what is going on). I would think women would be better at this than men. In other words, women should have certain advantages over men and men would have certain advantages over women (based on how our culture conditions us). Yet time and again, men do better at bridge than women. I can't figure it out.

  3. MOJO: Do you have a rough idea of the percentage of both men and women bridge players? I had always been under the impression that it approximated 50/50.

  4. @lightning36: I don't know the numbers exactly, but yes, it's around 50/50 with maybe a few more females than males.

  5. I have no clue but could it be that there are many more men playing bridge than women? Oh, I just read the comments above. We lived in a golf community in Ft. Lauderdale with a large contingent of older people, many of which played bridge. It seemed to be both men and women were involved.

    Interesting question. And I see no good answer. And I've learned before that when I don't know anything I should keep my mouth shut. Not always easy, as you might imagine!

  6. There are lots of great women bridge players, but as you point out, when the top men and the top women all compete in the same field, the men are more often the winners.

    I've talked about this with my own circle of bridge friends, and no one really has a great answer. There's been some discussion about maybe men can compartmentalize and focus better in general.

    As a woman player in my 30s, i wonder if the women's events are good for women players. I lean toward "no" but would be interested to hear other comments. I think women would be outraged if there were Men's events and in fact didn't there used to be? The sad fact is that the women's events are easier.

    I recently learned that national Women's events and Senior events will count as a National win for achieving Grand Life Master. This seems wrong to me. If Jeff Meckstroth or Justin Lall are not allowed to enter your event, winning that event should not put you in the elite tier. Just sayin'. (-:

  7. @Audrey: Thanks for your comments and views.