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Totally Antelope

4X West
NS: 0 EW: 0

We worry about getting eaten by sharks but consider how much scarier it would be if you were an antelope and you shared your habitat with Lions ?

If I come across decent surf and hot weather age has not wearied the desire to float amongst the waves out the back and maybe body surf back in a couple of times - Swimming in the ocean maybe 2 times a year - nation of about 25 million with maybe 3 fatal shark attacks in a bad year - I figure I am about average for national "might get eaten by shark" frequency so lets say 1 shot of grizzly shark death in 20,000,000 each time I get in. Its probably a whole lot less but in any event my bad math makes its small enough that although I will momentarily ponder it as I bob up and down I am still getting in.

Its different if you are an antelope. Antelopes don't go out to tend the garden one morning at the equivalent human age of 80 or so and suddenly and fatally have a diabetic stroke or less pleasantly a heart attack. Its a minute by minute grind for an antelope to avoid gruesome lion death and getting past your use by date means your odds go up till they become something close to a certainty.

I am unsure how smart antelopes are but I can be sure that they devote a lot of brain power when it comes to avoiding gruesome lion death. If you are an antelope casually munching through some vegetation and you hear a slight russle nearby you don't wait to investigate. The russle is very likely to be a rat or small reptile you have disturbed mid meal but if you choose to investigate further rather than just run away very quickly then your odds of gruesome lion death just got way bigger. Charles Darwin did a better job than me but you don't have to be all that smart to see that the antelopes who were inclined to investigate the russle didn't get many opportunites to produce other antelopes and you end up with antelopes that don't take risks.

Poker players like to talk about "monsters under the bed" but I prefer to tell junior bridge players about antelopes - "totally antelope" has become part of the jargon in the post mortem for a few of them.

I enjoy taking risk. In truth though I suspect all I am is someone genetically pre-disposed to getting an adrenalin rush manifesting as bravado. I like to pretend I am unaffected by the risk and only concerned with balancing the benefit but you can't escape all that evolution and that is the hard part of the lesson. People are risk adverse is easy but realising you are "people" is hard.

South was out gunned in this match and everyone knew it. North knew that if he just made the routine world class plays it was unlikely to be enough so he had to do some judicious chasing. There was no doubt in my mind as partners 1nt overcall got hit that North was the one who was out of line. Opposite a strong 1nt, even one that had a diamond stopper 4 hearts seemed right with the west cards. South had smashed 1nt with alacrity so I knew at the table before I bid 4 hearts that South was going to double again. Something was gnawing at me before I pulled out the 4H card but I ignored it.

The recognition that something was wrong didn't go away but I continued to ignore it. North was predictably uncomfortable as he passed out 4 hearts doubled and led the jack of diamonds. I won the ace of diamonds gleefully - "I can pitch those spades on diamonds - maybe do some cross ruffing - probably make an over trick". My thoughts somehow disconnected to reality didn't reach further. I asked for another big diamond and pitched my first spade within 1 second of south ruffing. It was only then that I addressed the gnawing feeling but there was no recovery.

The horrible part about mistakes for a seasoned bridge player is the sudden realisation. Almost as horrible for me is my retentive nature. Its 2 weeks ago now but these events get replayed everyday in my last 15 minutes of consciousness just when there is nothing you want to be thinking about. I suppose I could of written an article about thinking at trick 1 or even more painfully when to redouble because they seem the obvious things but the genesis of this mistake starts with totally antelope. I wanted a risk free way of punishing north. It was there for me to see and ignoring it led me down a crazy path.

The great poker player Doyle Brunson knew about antelopes. In a game where "tough" is perhaps the ultimate virtue he once said something like "You don't need to be tough to be a tough player. You just need to know when it is right to be tough."             

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