Well, I lost a back massage bet tonight. Fortunately it is to my beautiful girlfriend, and losing because we cleared 50% on a 172-team duplicate bridge tournament!!! We had a top hand for the first time in a few weeks, which is more due to the opponent's misplay than our superiority, but I must admit we did screw them pretty good on that third hand!
Just prior to the bridge tournament, girlfriend and I were working on a shared google-doc spreadsheet called "Bridge Cheat Sheet" which is the convention we'll be playing by, just American Standard. It is very simple right now, but I assume it will get more complex as we continue to play and run into situations that give us trouble. I was a bit worried about spending too much time during the tournament looking at the cheat sheet for what I should bid instead of playing quickly and having good etiquette, but during the tourney I only looked at the cheat sheet maybe once? The act of making the cheat sheet itself was a big help, kind of like the act of writing note cards to study for an exam helps just as much as quizzing yourself with the cards later.
We still ran into a few tough spots, but for the most part we played much better than last night (a 108/110 finish!). Only two of our hands were under 40%, which is pretty amazing considering almost all of our hands last night were under 40%! Marked improvement!! We talked about reviewing all of the hands we get under 20% on, but I may have to bump that up to 30% or 40% (in this case we only had two hands under 40%, but they were also below 20%...).
I think just continuing to play together and discussing our hands as they go will be the best way for us to improve, but if any of you bridge experts have any other suggestions, please let me know! I really enjoy the casual but involved play we are doing right now, and I am looking forward to fifty years from now and still playing this very fun and tricky card game!