Professor Profiles: Jeremy Martin, bridge player

Jeremy Martin is an associate professor of mathematics and an avid bridge player.

Jeremy Martin - 1
A diagram of a bridge hand from Jeremy Martin’s bridge website.

Why are you interested in bridge?

Bridge is just a fascinating game. You need to be able to analyze problems and make plans on the fly. Often the problem is one you’ve never seen before and you don’t have all the information you need, so you have to make something up. I’m a big puzzle-solver (crosswords, math problems, you name it), and bridge is a never-ending source of fun, challenging problems. A lot of the game is about communication with your partner via a very limited set of actions: for example, if I have the choice of playing the two, four or seven of spades, each of those cards will send a particular message. Partnership trust is very important.

How long have you been playing bridge?Jeremy Martin - 2

I played a little in college but really got hooked when I was a graduate student, around 1997-1998. I used to be a very serious chess-player, but I had gotten about as good at chess as I was ever going to get and I needed a new game. As a bridge player, I’m still improving.

What’s your favorite part of being a bridge player?

See #1! A lot of the fun for me is sharing the game with other players. I’ve gotten a lot of the mathematics graduate students interested in the game and many of them have gotten quite good at it. One drawback of the game is that there is a high learning curve – for the first couple of months you play, you have absolutely no idea what you are doing or why, and you have to be willing to be mystified for a while. Also, bridge is commonly seen as a game for older people (and indeed that is the demographic at most bridge clubs), which I think discourages younger people from taking up the game. But age shouldn’t matter; anyone who likes solving cool, challenging problems should learn to play bridge.

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