special ads

One no-trump: The (imaginary) politics of bridge

One no-trump: The (imaginary) politics of bridge

The term “bridge,” as researchers Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Falk point out in a new paper, has positive connotations for liberals, as in the left-leaning American Bridge PAC. To Republicans, though, it might evoke the Bridgegate scandal affecting the administration of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But “bridge” is also the name of a card game, in which the concept of “trump” — the designated top-ranking suit in a given hand — plays a key role. A “no-trump” bid by a player usually signifies that he or she holds a strong hand. Has the emergence of a very polarizing Republican candidate with the same name subliminally affected tournament bridge players, making them more (or, possibly, less) likely to declare a “no-trump” bid as they assess their hands?

To investigate this question — or, actually, to satirize the ability of scientists to prove anything with statistics, no matter how ridiculous — Gelman, a Columbia University statistician, and Falk, a vice president of NERA Economic Consulting, examined the play of a major American tournament, the 2015 Vanderbilt Knockout Teams competition. (This was actually played last March, before Trump announced his candidacy, but it was already being talked about in political circles — one of the numerous fudge factors Gelman and Falk salted their paper with.) They compared the number and outcome of no-trump hands to the 1999 Vanderbilt competition, and to the 2015 Dutch championships, both of which, they assumed, should have been less influenced by the players’ feelings about Donald Trump.

And the results? There were more no-trump hands played in the 2015 American tournament (28.81%) than in either of the others (by coincidence, 25.98% in each), and — of greater significance, for statistical reasons we don’t need to go into — a higher percentage of those no-trump hands were “made,” or won, in 2015.

The authors write:

“Trumpmania appears to cause a slight increase in the fraction of games played at No Trump. This suggests either that elite players are more likely to issue the phrase “No Trump” when bidding, or that the phrase stated by their opponents stuns them into silence.”

The paper is a joke, of course, although the data is real, and it has a serious purpose, having to do with the manipulation of statistics by researchers eager to get their work published — a frequent topic for the Retraction Watch website, which has an interview with Gelman and Falk. But for those outside the world of science, it is a reminder of just how much of our psychic territory Trump now occupies. He is inescapable, in our politics, our media and even in our games.

Those who already feel overwhelmed by Trumpmania, with months to go till the election, might want to give up bridge for the duration.

They can take up Monopoly instead. Maybe they can build a nice hotel on the Boardwalk.

Source: www.yahoo.com

Latest Posts From This Category

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Latest Posts