Older man has trou­ble fo­cus­ing on game

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL / NATION - ANNIE LANE

Dear Annie: A few years ago, I joined a duplicate bridge group in town and got paired with an older man who had just bro­ken up with his part­ner. He taught be­gin­ner classes and was a great help in get­ting me up to speed with modern con­ven­tions, as it had been years since I’d played. We did well for the first two years.

Un­for­tu­nately, over the past sev­eral months, his skill has de­te­ri­o­rated markedly. He makes sim­ple mis­takes in both the bid­ding and play of the hands, and makes them over and over. I’ve reached a point where I don’t en­joy play­ing with him, and re­al­ize I need to break the part­ner­ship and find some­one else.

The is­sue is that he is get­ting on in years (late 80s), and it’s al­most cer­tain that he has had some men­tal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, pos­si­bly even a TIA. Be­ing blunt with him will be hurt­ful but I don’t know of a bet­ter way to do it.

Can you sug­gest a way to let him down that will keep his dig­nity? — Un­happy Player

Dear Un­happy Player: First things first, if you’ve no­ticed po­ten­tial symp­toms of se­ri­ous health con­di­tions that this man hasn’t no­ticed yet, you must (gen­tly, pri­vately) bring those mat­ters to his at­ten­tion, and/or to the at­ten­tion of his loved ones.

Health dis­claimers aside, on to the ques­tion of break­ing up with him as a bridge buddy: You could sit this man down and tell him that you’ve en­joyed play­ing with him but you’re look­ing for an­other part­ner. Your time is your own, af­ter all, and it’s your right to spend it how you choose. How­ever. I beg you to step back and con­sider if that’s what you re­ally want to do.

Think back to a few years ago, when he first taught you how to play, the ways in which ex­er­cised pa­tience and grace in help­ing you im­prove. Now you have the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn that grace at a time when it’s re­ally needed. A num­ber of stud­ies, in­clud­ing a 2016 study from the Cen­ter for Alzheimer Re­search and Treat­ment at Har­vard Med­i­cal School, have found that so­cial iso­la­tion in­creases the risk and ac­cel­er­ates the pro­gres­sion of cog­ni­tive de­cline.

In­stead of ditch­ing your part­ner al­to­gether, con­sider find­ing a less-com­pet­i­tive bridge cir­cle or a less-com­pet­i­tive card game in which you two can par­tic­i­pate. Mean­while, on your own, you can pur­sue an­other bridge game that al­lows you to sa­ti­ate your ap­petite for com­pe­ti­tion. Again, your time is your own, and it’s ul­ti­mately up to you with whom and how you want to spend it. So I don’t present this as an obli­ga­tion but an op­por­tu­nity. To quote the il­lus­tri­ous Leonard Ni­moy: “The mir­a­cle is this: The more we share, the more we have.”

Dear Annie: In re­sponse to “Seek­ing Deco­rum”: I have of­ten trav­eled on air­lines with a small dog. If one owner does not en­sure that his an­i­mal is clean and well-be­haved, it should not spoil it for all. It is heart-wrench­ing to leave an an­i­mal be­hind when out of the coun­try for long pe­ri­ods of time.

Many air­lines are prej­u­diced against an­i­mals, and air­lines who do al­low them should not be dis­cour­aged by peo­ple who do not like dogs. Also, dogs do not get a free ride. It is very ex­pen­sive to buy a ticket for an an­i­mal to ride un­der­neath the seat ahead. And un­til bet­ter con­di­tions are cre­ated, it is of­ten unsafe for an­i­mals to ride in the cargo area. — An­i­mal Lover in Que­bec

Dear An­i­mal Lover: I agree that trav­el­ing in cargo can be unsafe for pets. There have been a num­ber of in­stances in which pets have trag­i­cally died when left on hot tar­macs while in their car­ri­ers await­ing load­ing. I hear and sec­ond your plea for more com­pas­sion to­ward those trav­el­ing with com­pan­ion an­i­mals.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and e-book. Visit http://www.cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for Annie Lane to [email protected]­ators.com.

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