Hu should be playing bridge?

"Deng Xiaoping was a dedicated, faithful, straight forward bridge player." according to Weiqi (Go) champion and also prominent bridge player Nie Weiping. It is fair to say that Nie had single-handedly defeated the the entire Japanese squad in the first 2 Go Supermatches between Japan and China in the 1980s, after the rest of his team were entirely eliminated.

  • "I thought people called Deng Xiaoping a master of bridge only because he was Deng Xiaoping," recalled Nie, Deng's bridge partner for almost ten years.
  • Nie said that Deng's skill at bridge showed his clear mind. Deng was a dedicated, faithful, straight forward player.
  • "The 'oldie' played bridge not only for taking a break but also for training himself, spiritually and physically," said Nie.
  • The pair was always a triumphant one.
  • "We won almost all the games, because our rivals were often a bit weaker than us," explained Nie.
Deng learned the game of bridge when he was a teenager, working in menial jobs in France. He picked it up again to fill the slow days when he was fired by Mao. I believe the discipline required for this game must have affected the way Deng solved problems when China opened up.

The single most important tip for playing good Bridge is to adhere strictly to a set of rules and discipline, be rational and not taking chance. A bridge game is won after many hands, 16, 32 or 128, for example. There is also certain randomness and factor of luck in each hand. The goal is to get the highest overall score. Therefore, taking chance in a single hand, by betting at odd of probability, or deceiving your partner, will create more damage in following hands and the trust of one's partnership. The other lesson from the game of bridge is that, the more hands you are playing, the more important it is for you to adhere to consistent discipline. Because that would assue any luck and bad-luck will be evened out.

To put such discipline in a simple example, let's look at the non-zero sum game of hosted gambling (any game in a casino or lottery, as opposed to zero-sum poker game with your friends). The games are non-zero sum in nature because the pay-out is always less than the odd. Some money needs to be extracted to pay for the taxes and the profit and cost of the host/operator. (e.g. you lose 5.3% in every Roulette bet) The only exception is when there is a grand jackpot, where losers in previous games are subsidizing for the current game. I only buy lottery when there is a jackpot.

The same discipline could be trained in operating a business. For example, it may cost you more than your revenue to appease a few customers' complain today but the goal is to make money in the long run. It is also imperative to plan your business strictly based on market data and logical analysis. Many great bridge players are also great businessmen (e.g., James Cayne).

Such discipline is also encouraged in Western (can I say especially Anglo-Saxon? enlightenment needed), and Japanese (which is also influenced by the British strongly - Ito Hirobumi) education and culture. Therefore, the game of bridge is not the only way to learn about discipline and rationality in these countries. Unfortunately, the education and culture in China, and that in many other 'ancient cultures', do not encourage such displine. Taking chance and cutting corner are learned over generations and people thought they have mastered the art, and are commonly believed to be not a big deal. Some even claim that being honest and idealistic is "politically immature". For this, Anit made a good example of non-compromising when he said

  • "Stay away from any lie, even if it is beneficial to your cause" (远离任何谎言,哪怕它对你很有利)
  • "You can call me politically immature, but I and my peers will insist truth as the top priority in our works..."你们可以说我政治不成熟,但我和我的同行们会坚持把真实作为工作的第一追求,因为中国无论哪派,都太缺一个真实报道的新闻界了。

Many people in China are very "mature" politically, so mature that they are willing to distort facts to suit their purposes. This includes many in the CCP and not so few in the anti-CCP camps.

I do not know if Hu plays bridge. But he should learn the game if he hasn't already, to train for the discipline and rationality. This applies to many other leaders in this world, including the ruling and opposition parties across the strait.

Many problems would be greatly simplified if one can sit back and apply logic and rationality, and realize that adhering to the rules is the winning choice in the long run, especially when there are many games to play in future.

I will use Taishi as an example, but there are many more.

  • The logical holes in the Q&A published by Panyu authority, and the lack of follow up to the mob indicate that the Guangdong government is "cutting corner", sacrificing anti-curruption and respect for rule of law, in favor of the ill-defined "stability"
  • Question: Can the short term benefit in the name of "stability" in one single (ok, maybe a few hundreds or thousands) village outweigh that of constructing a mechanism to ensure clean village mayor, hence address the complains of peasants before they escalate into protest and real chaos, in 680,000 villages? I am not talking about democracy. I am talking about STABILITY.

I was elated when Hu fired Zhang Wenkang in Apr, 2003. But I was not impressed because he was complacent about the bureacrats in Guangdong, who were at least equally guilty. Compared with SARS, Taishi alone is a small case, but not so if multiplied by 680,000.

I hope Deng had bothered to teach Hu to play bridge.

p.s. Having said that, one may draw the parallel of Hu's dealing with the Guangdong clan with Jiang's dealing with Chen Xitong - the corrupted Beijing Major who was also arguably the top culprit in 1989. There is a possibility that Hu is playing a game of patience with the Guangdong clan while cosolidating his power. Maybe the corruption thread can be traced all the way up to the most senior of the Guangdong clan. Who would take so much "risk" to protect a lowly village head and go into such length in lying if he himself is not connected to the corruption?

p.s.2. check out the88s' post about the PSC

1 comment:

entog said...

Very nice lens! Bridge is fun to play, but the better you play, the more fun it is. As you improve, you will be fascinated at discovering how much there is to the game. Despite popular opinion to the contrary, bridge is not difficult to learn. Learn how to play bridge contract card game and improve your bridge game in less than five minutes a day. Keep on posting interesting stuff, more power to your blog.