Wednesday, 30 December 2009


Bigot-Johnson ( who else ) was brought before the committee for a second time in the month, to explain his highly unethical 2NT overcall. The repeated use of this unlicenced bid was in direct defiance of a ban imposed upon him weeks earlier for the same offence . An extract from the hearing appears below:

  • Committe chairman (CC) : Could you please recall for the benefit of all those present the expanation you offered the opponents when they enquired about the meaning of your 2NT overcall?
  • B-J: I certainly can. There are 4 possibilities after the opponents have opened the bidding 1NT. Firstly, it doesn't promise two long suits.....only one, which you are happy to play in at any level, irrespective of the vulnerability. Partner is obliged to bid 3C if weak, for me to either bid my suit or pass. If he can envisage game he bids 3D and awaits developments. A second possibility is that you have forgotten your defence to 1NT, but you are showing a two suited hand which includes a major, unable of course to identify even one of your 5 card suits. Partner is obliged to bid 3H ( if he has at least 3 in each major ) or bid 4C if looking for the minor suit fit. The third one shows a good hand worthy of 7 to 8 easy tricks, but with a gaping hole somewhere, which you hope partner can plug. Three spades from partner says I can cover one of the black suits, while a 3NT response says I can cover one of the red suits. All this guarantees you to be playing the final 3NT contract. Well, I mean you had Bechkam in your team, wouldn't you always want him to take the free kicks ? The 4th possibility is when none of the first three apply, so it caters for hands where a double is inappropriate and you are at a complete loss as to what to bid. In such circumstances you are wanting partner to pass or bid 3NT as the mood suits him. Although this situation doesn't always produce superb results at the table, it is highly effective in generating heated post mortems....where the real fun of playing bridge is experienced.
  • CC : "I have never heard come across a more ludicrous, outrageous and unconventional convention. To even consider using such a preposterous bid is bad enough, but to do so when it was already under a ban beggars belief. This club and its members won't stand for it.....
  • B-J : True most will be sitting down at the time...
  • CC : Bigot-Johnson... it is my opinion that some of your bidding mechanisms belong in the world of fantasy, designed to turn auctions into a farce belonging to the theatre of the absurd.
  • B-J : Shame on you....I am a man who is keen to develop a highly destructive, but highly effective and intelligent bidding system. This bid of mine ( like the 3-way muti 2D bid) is a product of imagination and genius. In fact, I could fill my convention card with dozens more. But I need to experiment, and where better than in the rabbit fields of the Cardinals BC.
  • CC : Not either get this damn bid of yours licenced....not a cat in hell's chance....or why not spring it as a surprise on those simple folk that play their bridge at the Walnut Tree Allotment BC, where they probably don't even know what an Orange Book is. As a punishment from contravening the ban, you will be obliged for the next 6 months to play off the club's simple system card, using no other conventions other than those listed.
  • B-J: ......Bugger........
BRIDGE AND SUPERSTITION.............................. ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi ) Superstition has always been associated with card players, ever since card games were first introduced to Europe in the 2nd half of the 14th century. The game of bridge is no exception, and even today superstitious practices take place in bridge clubs the world over.......such is the extent of players' eccentricities and irrational beliefs. Bridge results, unlike chess, often require luck. For many observers, the game is equally as much about chance as it is skill. Which opponents you meet on which boards. Which option you take on a two-way finesse. Whether to play for the drop of the queen or take the finesse. These are typical examples where the prayer mat is called for. In any game where chance and fate play a big part, there are bound to be runs of both good luck and bad luck. This is understood by all bridge players. They expect fluctuations of fortune due to chance, but if anything at all can be done to prolong runs of good luck, or to end runs of bad luck.....then whatever needs to be done must be done. Now of course superstitions come into their own, and if what they recommend works then the verification of those superstitions becomes firmly rooted and established. The past experience of being able to control their fate only reinforces the belief in players that these superstitions work....and therefore must be adhered to with both loving devotion and fanatical resolve. So let's now look at a few superstitions, which even the best players in the world have come to rely on :
  • never walk under a ladder, or cross the path of a black cat, prior to entering a bridge venue
  • don't start the session at table 13, or in the case of Italians at table 17
  • when playing at your club make sure you take the same seat, at the same table number
  • always bring with you your lucky charm, amulet, or mascot
  • remember to wear the same clothing you had on when you achieved your best-ever result
  • carry out the same ritualistic routines before the session commences, and/or during the play
  • undertake the whatever steps are needed to lock in good luck, and to drain away bad luck
  • follow self-adopted rules that have proved so successful in the past

So what we have to accept is that superstitious beliefs are firmly held by many top class bridge players, who are truly sensitive to the vaguaries of chance. They more than any one believe in the fickle hand of fate, and the importance of enticing Lady Luck to be their constant companion. Indeed, the following quote by Grant Baze ( a most celebrated American bridge expert ) given during an interview for an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reveals the link between superstition and success : " Well, I never regarded myself as a superstitious person.....but that of course changed when I took up bridge seriously ".

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...........................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, Nobody wants to partner me these days. Is it because I incur too many horrendous scores below 40%, or is it due to my unfortunate medical condition that causes acute flatulence ? Yours F. Hartman
  • Dear Freddie, I really need to talk to all those you have played with recently, if I'm to get to the bottom of your problem. Yours keeping my distance, Rebecca

Monday, 28 December 2009

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP......................................... ( By Johnny Supremo ) Not so long ago I reviewed three situations why taking on a finesse to make the contract is rank poor bridge, especially when better options are available. This hand is a classic example of what I mean. You are playing teams and end up in a vulnerable 3NT contract. The opponents lead out a heart and dummy comes down with: xx...A...AKxxxx...xxxx...while you hold a very tasty and healthy 18 points: AQxxx....Kxx...Qx...AK6. Initially, your eyes light up with the prospect of bringing in 12 tricks, as you envisage 6D,2H, 2C and 2S on a finesse. But look before you leap ! If you rush in like a fool by playing out diamonds straightaway, the possibility of a 4-1 break will certainly take the wind out of your sails. Now with only 3 diamond tricks possible, you'll need the spade finesse to work to see the contract home. But there may be no joy there either. So with egg on your face and a minus 100 to boot, you'll have to return to your team-mates and have a lot of explaining to do. Clearly, in teams it is all about making the game.......forgetting about over-tricks...... focussing more on creating extra chances to secure the contract. The correct line therefore to harvest 9 to test clubs first, hoping for a 3-3 break (using diamonds as an entry to dummy to cash the established 13th club ). On the actual layout of the hand, the clubs did in fact break 3-3, and so this extra chance was well rewarded, since diamonds were 4-1 and the king of spades was off-side. Now you can return to your team-mates having secured 9 tricks ( 3C,3D,2H,1S) and +600 score, hoping it was your opponents who missed this obvious line of play.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

FASTASY BRIDGE................................................................ ( By Pun ) The National Pairs final had arrived, and with seven boards to go there were only two pairs in contention, such was their lead over the rest of the field. Santa Claus and Humpty Dumpty were marginally infront of Old Nick himself and his sea-rated partner, Long John Silver. Indeed, Old Nick viewed his partner's bidding to be far too predictable and wooden, and certainly not a patch on his. Santa was feeling incredibly tired and was ready to hit the sack. Humpty Dumpty was doing his best to keep him awake, egging him on at every opportunity. After two flattish boards, the next really generated a swing. Santa, who was sitting North, had picked up a rock crusher. Not surprisingly,the two-notrumps card thudded down on the table. Humpty immediately jumped to 4C ( Gerber ), only for Long John Silver to stick in a double. Santa re-doubled putting Humpty on the spot. But he was not ready to crack just yet.....and taking the re-double to show clubs, he elected to pass. Just as well, as 4C came rolling in plus one, despite Long John having KQJ432 in the suit. The king of clubs opening lead was taken by dummy's Ace, and Humpty then played off seven side-suit winners with everyone following. At trick nine a heart from dummy was ruffed by Humpty's remaining 7 of clubs (having started with 2). Poor old Long John either had to under-ruff or take the trick with the Jack ( which was what he did). However, down to just the Q432, he could only make one more club trick against dummy's remaining 10985. This board had now given Santa a galactic top, putting him in pole position. However, the next two boards went Old Nick's way. Both hands saw Santa bidding and making 5D and 4H. He took too much of a liking to the red suits, because he missed a small slam in clubs on board 4, and 3NT+1 scored better on board 5. By now Humpty had lost his composure and was in pieces. So much so, he completely went into his shell on board 6, failing to open on a poor twelve count. This hand was passed out giving his opponents an above average score. By now, Santa had concluded that enough gifts had been handed out......the time had come to sleigh his opponents for once and for all. He picked up his final hand : and woe upon woe, it was a 3-5-0-5 yarborough, with the void in diamonds. Old Nick opened the bidding with strong 2S, and from the white in Humpty's distraught and despairing eyes it looked as though he had nothing as well. Sure enough Long John responded with an ultra-confident 4NT ( agreeing spades and looking for a slam). But then out-of-the-blue Santa bid 5D !! Long John immediately called for the TD, alleging an improper bid. The TD ruled that Santa was entitled to make any bid he liked, and that he (LJS) wouldn't have a leg to stand on should he make an appeal. Eventually, Old NIck settled in 7S having ascertained that their combined holding included....... all the top trumps, and the top two honours in the three other suits. The sound of 7S tick ringing around in his head was like sweet soul music, but when Humpty led the 6 of diamonds, he was completely knocked for 6...... when Santa ruffed with the 6 of spades. This epic battle was all over.....Santa and Humpty scored yet another top to snatch the trophy away from their rivals at the death. Old Nick turned to his partner..." I'm off.."......" But it's wet outside" replied Long John....." and you stand the rein deer, can you ? ".

Friday, 25 December 2009

BIGOT-JOHNSON'S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE.............................................. Many people who read this blog have often wondered what the Dickens is going on? Why is this blog so lacking in bridge content? By the correspondence I've been getting on my e-mail ( you would think that every one of these whingers has a miserable, humourless existence, locked away inside a Bleak House. Indeed, this blog was meant to fulfil the Great Expectations of all its readers, but certainly not one where my team of contributors have endured Hard Times from taking unwarranted criticism and scorn regarding their work. We are all, would you believe, gifted individuals, who embody the tact, diplomacy and refined manners in keeping with The Old English Gentleman. Every person in the team regards the others as Our Mutual Friends.......though I do find Johnny Supremo gets right up my nose.......but thereagain it's Christmas, so I am more than prepared to join in and sing the words ( aptly taken from A Christmas Carol ) " Peace and goodwill to all men " with real conviction. Finally, I would like to say a Special Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the few readers out there, who truly love us for who we really are.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

LAW REPORT : R v. BIGOT-JOHNSON (2009) ( This case came before Sheffield Crown Court, but the precedent that was set now creates serious concern for all predatory bridge players. A summarised transcript of the trial proceedings appears below.)
  • Bigot-Johnson, you stand accused of repeated acts of daylight robbery at the bridge tables. How do you plead?
  • ( The accused stands up bracing himself before giving a reply.)
  • Not guilty....
  • Well, is it not true that all the alleged incidents took place during the day?
  • Yes, I can't deny that.....
  • Is it not also true that one of alleged victims queried on the afternoon in question...why the sun always shone out of your......
  • ( Desperate to make sure the statement was never completed, Bigot quickly interjected.)
  • what if he did?
  • You sir, are here to answer my questions....not the other way round. So to continue....the facts are irrefutable. On several occasions you obtained outright tops by various means. These centred upon a never ending barrage of weak overcalls, weak jump overcalls, pre-emptive weak two and weak three openers, psyches, light openers in 3rd position and countless deviations from what was on your system card......all against players who were relatively new to the game.
  • Yes, I did gain some fortuitous tops this way.
  • ( Gasps of disgust echoed around the public gallery. )
  • Does this not amount to daylight robbery?
  • Well, not exactly...
  • Allow me to came all those gifts which you greedily took, courtesy of some very naive, wayward, and clumsy bidding and play by several of the alleged victims........who were nothing more than absolute beginners.
  • So what.....taking gifts doesn't make me criminally liable....surely?
  • Sorry....but a simple analysis of the situation reveals that you set out to obtain these gifts, knowing full well that you were not entitled to benefit from any of them. So by choosing to deny them the opportunities to correct the errors of their ways....thereby handing these gifts back......your heartless omissions were therefore tantamount to theft by default.
  • ( More gasps from the gallery.)
  • Yes...yes...yes...but none of this adds up to robbery?
  • Or so you think......but now we come onto all those other crazy bids of yours. You chose to use a highly obscure and destructive bidding system.........both unfamiliar and utterly unintelligible to anyone new to the game. This resulted in many of your victims not really knowing what measures to take to counter so many artificial and alertable bids. Consequently, they were put into a state of fear and intimidation......and it is this factor which converts theft into robbery.
  • Well...if that how you want to see it ?.....
  • Yes, that exactly how I see it.....and by the look of all those approving nods from all those on the bench, that's how everyone else is seeing it.
  • Bugger.....

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES................................... As yet the great man is not yet back in full swing, leaving me ....his humble assistant ( Neil ) to publish on the net another one of his astounding pieces of research. One good bit of news is that Dr. John has finally rejected the notion that there are fairies at the bottom of the garden. But it took a great deal of persuasion by the King of the Potato People to convince him otherwise. Anyway, let's move on to one of the most perturbing syndromes ever to be associated with bridge players : THE DOCTOR STRANGELOVE SYNDROME. This is a common name given to a disorder, where a player becomes acutely aware that one of his hands has a mind of its own. It acts in a manner beyond the victim's voluntary control, as if possessed by a malevolent force or spirit. The physical symptoms are easy to see. Victims will inexplicably, and involuntarily, (a) pull out the wrong bid, or bid out of turn, (b) pull out the wrong card, or play out of turn, or ( c) hit out at partner and/or opponents without any justification whatsoever. Dr. John's research indicates that this syndrome has a possible link with a split personality....a Jekyll and Hyde conflict which only seems to surface during a game of bridge. In every case Dr. John has looked at, the victim clearly develops a split personality, where as it seems the malevolent one occasionally wrestles control from the other just for a few fleeting seconds. In that short time frame, he will commit random, mischievous, unpredictable and insane acts, which inevitably prove contrary to what the other would choose. Strangely, when the evil personality is in control, only one part of the body responds......the hand.
BRIDGE CLUB DISCIPLINARY SUB-COMMITTEE HEARING No.71....... No surprise for the committee ( or anyone else for that matter ) to see Bigot-Johnson stroll into the room to respond to a complaint about his "coffee-housing" tactics in a recent club competition. The transcript of the hearing was as follows:
  • Committee Chairman (CC) : " Did the alleged incident take place on board 19 ? "
  • B-J : " I can't recall..."
  • CC : " Well, allow me to remind you of the facts. You are in 3NT and the king of spades was the opening lead. In dummy you see 632...8532....AQ6....K62, opposite your A84....AK6....K842....A94. On top you have 8 certain winners: 1S, 2H, 3D, 2C. A ninth could come from the 4th heart if the suit breaks 3-3, or diamonds, if again the suits breaks evenly.
  • B-J : " Yes, that was my analysis..."
  • CC : " You correctly decided to duck the first spade noticing an honest East flag up his doubleton holding. At trick two you took the queen of spades with the Ace. Then in a manner more becoming of an actor pushing his claim for an Oscar, you cleverly gave the impression to West that you intended to play another card.........but inadvertently allowed your 3rd spade to drop onto the table face up. Putting on one of your sublime panic-stricken faces, you made an impassioned plea to retrieve the card.....knowing that West ( you has a real dislike for you ) would utterly refuse. This he did ....and never expecting ever to get back in again, it was not surprising to see him snatch the trick and seize this godsend opportunity to rattle off two more winners in the suit. His hand of course was: KQJ107....J9....73...QJ84. The consequence of taking these spade tricks was that his partner was subjected to an excruciating squeeze, having to discard ahead of you......and this enabled you to make all the remaining tricks."
  • B-J : " Rather simple play, I thought....... but very sweet.....and extremely satisfying."
  • CC : " So did you deliberately drop the that 3rd spade ? "
  • B-J : " It fell out of my hand.....and that is all I can tell you. Can I help it if West is a total muppet ? How can I be held accountable for the subsequent carding decisions of my opponents ? "
  • CC ; " Do you not accept that if you had played the 3rd spade in a knowing and deliberate way.......West might well have stopped to think: Why is declarer, who knows what he's doing, wanting to concede 3 spade tricks ? In these circumstances, he may have reasoned that by taking even one more spade trick, his partner was under pressure. We suspect that you did indeed coffee-house him in order to safely land this contract."
  • B-J : " You are entitled to this opinion, but all I did was drop the card....... and then politely ask if I could play an alternative card, which I originally intended.......... Muppet head was given the choice.
  • CC ; " Well, since suspicions alone cannot amount to proof, the complaint against you will now be dropped. However, if this particular set of circumstances ever repeats itself, you will be in serious trouble. You are in our opinion a very cunning and devious man, who knows every single coffee-housing trick going. Good-day."
  • B-J : " suspension !.....Bugger lot are as gullible as West......."

Monday, 21 December 2009

BRIDGE BOOKS I WISH I'D NEVER PURCHASED..........( Absolute shockers says Pun )
  • The Italian Blue Club System....................................Ravi Oley
  • Computer Bridge Software: Fixing The Faults.............Dee Bugger
  • Rubber Bridge: If I Lose I Never Borrow......................Nora Linda Bee
  • Partner, You Need To Calm Down More.....................Hugo Craise
  • Determination To Win Is What Bridge Is About...........Will Power
  • Nuts About Bridge.....................................................Cy Cosis
  • It's The Little Things That Beat You At Bridge.............Mike Robes
  • Bad Splits That Come Out Of the Blue......................Oliver Sudden
  • My Partner Never Pays For Anything.........................Titus A. Drum
  • Why I Keep Leaving The Table..................................I. P. Hofften
  • Bridge Players Offer Christmas Cheer.......................Yule Tidings
  • What....Slams On Combined 10 Counts ?................. Shirley U. Jest
BRIDGE BULLY'S BIBLE : PART 2.........................................( By Carp) A while back I produced an article on how to become a proper bridge bully, to help those cursed with sad, psychopathic and pathetic personality traits....... who seem driven to behave in an anti-social way. However, my gripe at present with bridge bullies concerns their loud offensive comments, rude remarks and insults....all of which lack precision of thought, intelligent observation and meaningful vocabulary. Their loutish remarks lack authority and originality, relying all to often on meaningless over-used cliches and playground nouns. So for all you bridge bullies out there, here are a few illustrative examples on how to be unpleasant....... with style and integrity. The Bible's message is quite clear : say nothing, unless you can put together some well crafted and cleverly worded insults that will earn you plaudits from those listening in. People who love to appreciate original, witty and creative composition. So why not try out a few of these first to get you into the swing of things, before devising a few razor-sharp put downs of your own:
  • There's no beginning to you talents.....
  • I have had a perfectly wonderful evening.......but this wasn't it.
  • So you have an inferiority complex ? Well, it's fully justified.
  • I know you are a self-taught bridge's nice of you to take the blame.
  • God, you're dense.... no wonder light bends around you.
  • Ok, so you've got both your bridge oars in the water, but why use them on the same side of the boat ?
  • Yes, I know that Jesus loves you........but just wait until he partners you.
  • I have never known anyone with such delusions of adequacy....
  • So what, if you have a lot of well wishes....most I suspect would like to throw you down one.
  • Some bridge players fear success.....but in your case you have nothing to worry about.
  • You're going to be a difficult partner to forget....but well worth the effort.
  • As a team member you're as useful as a chocolate tea-pot......
  • You're not yourself tonight,'ve just managed to do the right thing for once.
  • Why is it that your brain waves always fall well short of the beach ?
  • You look deep in thought, that must be unfamiliar territory to you.
  • I guess the only thing you brought to the bridge club tonight was your car.
  • Nobody thinks more highly of you than I........and I think you are a total loser.
  • Don't get me wrong....I'm not trying to make a monkey out of you. There's no way I can possibly take the credit for that.
  • I would like to give you a bit of bridge know-how....but I fear you have nowhere to store it.
  • The reason partner why your eyes are misting up..... is that your brain is in a fog.
  • You used to be hopeless and clueless at the game, but thankfully you're now the opposite......clueless and hopeless.
  • If you think other bridge players are the same as you....god, you must have a very low opinion of them.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

BEST BRIDGE PLAYERS IN THE WORLD: POLL RESULTS YET AGAIN OVERLOOK BIGOT-JOHNSON................................................ ( News report by Carp ) Following the latest poll, Bigot-Johnson has been seen pulling out what is left of his hair. To say the man was gutted is an understatement. After recent winning performances at the 2009 Walnut Tree Allotment Congress Swiss Pairs and Teams events, not to mention countless numbers of 70% + scores at The Cardinals.....he felt he was in the running to break into the top ten. He was so distraught I felt obliged to quote him the reassuring words of Mosha Ufneed, who had posted some interesting observations about this matter on the web: " It is difficult to determine who the best bridge players in the world are, since there is no reliable ranking as in tennis, chess, and other competitive sports. Some claim that relying on tournament results is not a good way to identify the best bridge players either. The reasoning is that tournament results are affected not only by luck, but also by partner's skills, as well as the team's. Therefore, many players prefer to rely on "soft" factors such as reputation, and the subjective opinion of players who claim to pertain to the experts' group." Well, I know, and so does Bigot, that he has made a real name for himself over the years, with his style of play and table presence. The man sees himself as a genius, who has been held back by the bumbledog partners he seems cursed to play with . On the occasions he has ventured onto the big stage, his top ten placings seem to go un-noticed. But locally, he is the most talked about bridge player ever. So let's get real here...for any person to go deliberately off 11 in 6S ( see earlier post ) with 9 trumps, including the AKJ, plus a fistful of outside top honours in the other suits.....requires card playing skill of the highest order. This feat alone should have put him in the ranks of the world's best. Other great feats he has performed on, under, across, over and around the bridges tables have all left on-lookers stunned and flabbergasted with disbelief and amazement. And so I am appealing to this group of experts who make their selections, you clearly need to look further afield to acknowledge the existence of unsung heroes of the game. Bigot-Johnson sadly ( until now I hope ) has remained one of these unknown talents....a shy and modest man if the truth be known, whose generosity knows no bounds. The cheque he sent me to write this article has set me up for life. So there we have it : the10 players voted as" the best" are certainly the "best-well known", but are they really the best?.............Bigot definitely thinks otherwise.
NEIL AGAIN ....paying homage to the revelations of the incredible Dr.John Yes, it's me again standing in for the absent Dr. John, who is still camped out at the bottom of his garden. His last message to me was to tell you folk out there about FEMORAL HYPOPLASIA, which is more commonly known as THE UNUSUAL FACES SYNDROME. This condition, more than any, affects large numbers of bridge players, who cannot stop themselves adopting unusual, bizarre and distorted facial expressions during the course of a game. In most cases the victim's subconscious has taken over, whereupon the urge to pull an unusual face becomes unstoppable. Suddenly, after a particular bid or play of the card by their partner, the victim will instinctively adopt a facial expression that mirrors his secret thoughts. Inevitably, an astute and observant partner might decipher what all these different facial expressions mean. Clearly, in the majority of instances they carry messages of disapproval, but whatever facial expressions have been adopted, something can always be deduced about the victim's feelings, fears, concerns and needs at those moments in time.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

NEIL PECK STANDS IN FOR DR. JOHN............................ Hello there. Well, I have been asked to stand in for Dr. John, while he is away looking for fairies at the bottom of his garden. ( Stress can manifest itself in so many ways ). As his new assistant I have been given the task of researching into a rather unusual and disturbing affliction, which seems to have taken hold in the bridge world in quite a big way. Labelled The Perseveration Syndrome, it is another peculiar variant of turrets syndrome. This particular disorder tends to affect aspiring but self-deluded players, who over-night perceive themselves to be the resident experts in their club. What makes their condition so perplexing is that the sufferers firstly develop a heightened ability to tune into other players' bridge conversations....distance being no barrier whatsoever. Secondly, they develop an irresistible urge to interrupt the discussion with a rather loud " Excuse me ! " Then, having gained an uninvited entry into the discussion, they proceed for several minutes to put their audience right on all matters, concerning bidding, declarer play and defence. The perseveration syndrome once kick started quickly moves onto a higher level, where the compulsion to interrrupt becomes so becomes unstoppable. Indeed, every private conversation will fall victim to an " Excuse me " and some stage or another. Sufferers cannot stop themselves jumping out of their seats, or flying across rooms, in a frantic attempt to gain new audiences. They mistakenly believe that their expertise and wisdom is urgently sought after ....being of real substance and value. Originally, it was recorded as a very rare condition, being quantified at around 1 case in every 20,000. However, today thousands of clubs find themselves over-run with dozens of self-appointed experts. Consequently, the competition for the status of being number one has brought on mini-epidemics of this rather unpleasant syndrome. The tragic outcome of all this is that after one "excuse me" rears its ugly head.......countless others discussions descend into a cacophony of "excuse me's" that can go on for hours.

Friday, 18 December 2009

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.................................................................
  • Pancake : this is how flat you feel after picking up the umpteenth hand, with a relatively pointless 4-3-3-3 distribution.
  • Principle of preparedness : a concept of being prepared for all eventualities. Highly significant with regards to rebidding over partners responses, and what if any protection is required.
  • Pushing your opponents : this term relates to either (a) physically moving them out of the way as you scramble to get to the mid-session refreshment table ( or bar ) first, or (b) making inappropriate or provocative comments which cause them to lose their focus and composure. Often, when it is the latter, the opponents bid on to a level where the contract cannot be made, or is ripe for a big penalty double.
  • Post-Mortem : a necessary form of investigation that needs to be carried out whenever bodies of missing bridge players turn up in mysterious locations.....such as in shallow graves located in deserted woodland areas............ days after they recorded their worst ever bridge scores with partners of a highly volatile and unforgiving nature.
  • PLOB : an acronym which stands for a petty, little, odious bids made by pernickety, slow approach system-driven players, who insist on making dozens of irritating, annoying, ultra-safe, artificial, investigative bids in tedious, drawn out, time-consuming, never-ending auctions.
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...................................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, For several months now my scores have been wretched, but over the past few weeks I've lost all my regular partners. One was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for crimes that are too shocking to tell. Another left me to play with people he considered to be of higher standing and/or status. A third was sectioned under The Mental Health Act for repeatedly stabbing an ice pick into his arms and legs. One took up religion by joining a sect that believe the moon men are about to invade this planet at any time. And finally, the partner who I considered as a good friend took up a job as a professional hit man. Right now, ugly rumours are circulating around my club saying I'm first on his list. What is happening to me ? Yours desperately needing reassurance, Binky
  • Dear Binky, Either you are the victim of a wicked set of tragic and unfortunate circimstances, or there is a blatant message being conveyed to you. As I don't believe in co-incidences beyond just two simultaneous and random events, I am obliged to come to the conclusion that all your regular partners can't take anymore. Indeed, they have all been forced to take extreme measures to find an them time to recover. Yours saying was needs to be said, Rebecca

JOHNNY SUPREMO'S MASTERCLASS..................................... When you have a chance to count the opponents' hands then take it.....especially if it enables you to make the right play in a particular suit later on. Take this illustrative hand as an example. South as declarer is in 6NT holding : AKx....AQ....K10876...A109 with a dummy that comes up with QJ73....K2...AQ54....Q43. The contract after a 4 of hearts lead looks so simple : 4S, 2H, 5D and 1C. So what could go wrong ? The club king could be off-side and the diamonds split 4-0. So how should diamonds be played. If East holds the four diamonds, there is no problem at all about starting off with a top honour in dummy first. However, if West holds 4 diamonds to the J9, then kicking off with the Ace would be fatal ! So it becomes imperative t0 play out 4 rounds of spades first....before touching diamonds. This way you get important information that West is void in the suit. Assuming West led his 4th highest heart from five, this gives him 8 cards in the minor suits, as compared to East's 3. Therefore, the only opponent to be in a position to hold four diamonds is of course West. So the winning line now becomes blatantly obvious. Play the king of diamonds first, and then when East shows are in a perfect position to take two finesses against West's J and 9, using your Ace of hearts and Ace of clubs as entries to hand.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.........................................
  • Pair : A term given to a couple of complete buffoons due to arrive at your table, often used in a statement " We've got a right pair coming our way, partner. "
  • Pudding raise : A bid made by a dim-witted, simple-minded partner .....the proverbial pudding.....who chooses to raise you in your suit to the 3 level, simply because he/she hasn't the gumption, nous, vision or ability to find a more constructive, inventive, informative, or creative ( alternative ) bid.
  • Pin : Something a player needs to carry on his person to occasionally stick into partner's leg ( under the table ) in order to (a) keep him awake and fully focussed, or (b) to make him lead a card to trap an opponent's lower ranking honour underneath.
  • Perfect bridge hand : This crops up when partner holds his cards in such a way, that the positioning of his fingers gives a perfect reading of the shape, distribution and strength of his holding.
DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : THE PUNCH DRUNK SYNDROME........... The most publicised variant of this syndrome is a neurological disorder, medically known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. First diagnosed as boxer's dementia, it was not surprising to see boxers as the most affected group. However, it can also affect athletes in contact sports where they repeatedly experience violent head blows and concussion. Symptoms of course include tremors, loss of concentration, mental deterioration and speech problems. Yet strangely, a pseudo version of this syndrome has hit the bridge world in a big way. This unusual form of the syndrome has until recently remained largely undetected, but research shows that thousands of bridge players are affected by it. The main difference here is that the victims have all sustained repeated verbal attacks by their unforgiving and bullying partners, which leaves them with their " heads done in ". The never ending onslaught of insults and accusations have the equivalent impact of repeated hammer blows, which bring on extreme chemical reactions and imbalances within their brains. These chemical changes then cause permanent damage to countless cells in key parts of the brain, which result in identical symptoms ( to those listed above ) being observed. In effect, their minds have been completely shattered. As a concerned and caring psycho-analyst, who cannot offer these punch drunk bridge players any meaningful or corrective therapy....... I can only appeal to the bridge authorities around the world to put an immediate stop to bullying and aggressive behaviour for once and for all.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Dear Bigot, I read your article with some interest, but down here in the Fens I have already established a reputation for myself.....which is second to none. In this backwater of England with its flat marshy plains, the bridge playing community know me as " Fen Boy ". I didn't need your advice on how to make a name for myself......I achieved that years ago doing it my way........the fen way ! So let me give you a lesson on how it can be done without resorting to any of your ludicrous, over-the-top suggestions. My tactics are simple but highly effective :

  • Never keep your bidding within the point ranges stated on your system card. Prefer to open your hand with less than what your opponents expect.
  • Open or overcall a spade irrespective of how many cards you have in that suit. Train partner to support spades by bidding no trumps at the lowest level.
  • Always enquire every time an opponent opens a club to see if it is natural. If questioned about this say that (a) you did not see the alert or (b) there was no alert made.
  • Whenever an opponent overcalls always ask if it could be on a 4 card suit....or better still if it is natural
  • If you have nothing to say always hesitate for a long time before passing.
  • After your bids rattle your fingers loudly on the table....until it is your turn to bid again.
  • When an opponent makes a bid, no matter what the situation, ask if they have other bids available
  • If you are at least half a board behind the play.....and you don't like your hand....excuse yourself for an urgent call of nature
  • Whenever you play opponents using straightforward Acol, remember to ask them at all times if their bids have been natural.
  • During the play of the hand ( the later the better ) ask for a review of the bidding. This works very well if you're already a board behind.
  • When defending, and declarer seems to be concentrating very hard as to what to do next, pretend to look completely perplexed when he plays the next card. Query whether he was in hand, or in dummy, at that time. Then quickly apologise when it appears declarer was right.
  • If opponents end up getting a bad score, comment on how wretched their luck is.
  • Should you or your partner make a contract that should have been defeated, praise yourself or partner on how well the hand was played.
  • In situations where opponents are arguing over a point of bidding (or play ), always agree with the one who is wrong.
  • Whenever new opponents arrive at your table, remain them of how well you did last week.

So as far as I am concerned Bigot, you have much to learn from the master. Yours always in ascendency, Fen boy

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

MAKING A NAME FOR YOURSELF.........THE BIGOT-JOHNSON WAY Let's for pity's sake stand up for once and face the play bridge at your club but you remain a nobody. One of the faceless ones who play in duplicate events and club competitions just to make up the numbers. But not anymore...... for help is now at hand to get you recognised..... to get you a reputation, which is clearly long overdue. In my club I am a reputation is with doubt staggering......and believe you me, when it comes to making a name for myself I 've done it big time. So follow these instructions to the letter, and within months you'll be the most talked about person in your club :
  • When declarer, pick up your cards quickly, and get a bid down on the table so fast, the opponents have yet to sort their cards. Then start to look impatient......
  • Bring some gum along to help you concentrate. Make sure you develop a chewing action in keeping with farmyard animals, especially cows.
  • As declarer randomly lead from your own hand or dummy as you see fit.
  • Fidget around in your seat like someone who has just had an unfortunate accident.
  • At all times during the play, never hurry or even attempt to. Appear to be preoccupied by other things. Develop a habit of day-dreaming.
  • When defending, be prepared to interrupt the play of the cards by chatting to partner. Always have it in your mind that the social aspect of the game takes priority.
  • Never bother or waste time trying to remember the rules of play. Just do your own thing, and leave it to the TD to sort out any inadvertent breaches the opponents query.
  • As declarer, claim as soon as you reach that point it becomes boring to play on.
  • Should the opponents make a mistake, or hand you a gift, remember to smirk rather than smile
  • Walk around the table whenever you are dummy, making sure to glance down at the opponents' cards. Use facial gestures to show shock, surprise or pleasure as you do so.
  • During the play ask partner why he didn't return your lead. This will remind him to lead it the next time he's in.
  • Constantly moan, groan and sigh whenever partner is playing the contract. Provide instant feedback on his declarer play rather than waiting till the end of the hand.
  • Every so often psyche on several boards in a row, because even partner won't suspect you'll be stupid enough to try another on "the next one" .
  • Regularly ask what trumps are....or what the contract is....if only to feign a moderate interest in what is going on.
  • Before playing a card, keep the opposition waiting by half-pulling out several cards ( and then pushing them back ) during your protracted deliberations. But always make sure you eventually play the one you selected first.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

JOHNNY FINDS A WAY.................................................................................... As always, Johnny Supremo was prepared to put a little thought into making his contract, Opting to bid 5S to win the auction over East's 5D, he then found himself doubled by East. Johnny appeared to have 3 losers: 2 minor suit Aces and the King of hearts. All 3 cards were with East, who had a big hand and a 1-3-5-4 distribution. Dummy had come down with: 974....AJxx....xx...KQ106 , opposite his AKQJ10xxx...Qxx....Q...x...A diamond was led and Johnny sitting South ruffed the continuation. Next came the Ace of spades which cleared trumps. The problem he faced was not to lose a heart. What plan if any could he find to secure this objective. Answer : lead his low club hoping West plays low ( which he did ) and stick in the six from dummy !! What can East do ? A diamond return would give him a ruff and sluff : then later on a ruffing finesse in clubs sets up the opportunity to lob away another losing heart. A heart return would be just as fatal with declarer only requiring one discard in hearts, which the ruffing club finesse will provide. A low club return would enable Johnny to effectively finesse the jack whoever holds it. If it is West, the queen of clubs will take the trick leaving declarer with K-10 in dummy, to obtain the ruffing finesse position against East's A-9. Alternatively if the jack is with East, then a low club enables dummy to win with the nine, with the KQ of clubs still there to secure a second discard in hearts. Such ingenuity..........but that's what makes Johnny so supreme.
HOW TO BE A TRULY ETHICAL PLAYER: A LESSON FROM ALVIN ROTH..........( Short article by Bridgemeister Gibson ) There are some bridge players out there, who are prepared to expose their partners as unethical players....but in a clever and subtle way. For these honest and ethical players, it becomes imperative to undo the damage unfairly inflicted upon their unsuspecting opponents. Indeed, Alvin Roth demonstrated the true meaning of restorative justice by this wonderful example of making partner regret the error of his ways. Alvin was defending 7NT in a high stake money game. The outcome of the contract rested on the heart suit in a critical 3 card ending. Declarer had three to the king in dummy, opposite his own AJ10, giving him a 2-way finesse option. Alvin was sitting with 3 to the queen under declarer's holding. South, who had started with 4 hearts originally, opened up the suit leading the jack of hearts from his own hand. West went into an Oscar winning performance of table antics, in a calculated attempt to make South (declarer) believe that he had the queen.....but inevitably playing low. South, taken in by all of this, also played did Alvin !! When Roth's crestfallen partner saw Alvin's queen eventually fall under declarers Ace, he rounded on Alvin in no uncertain terms. " You could have defeated this why in God's name didn't you take the first heart trick with the queen.....when you were given the chance ? " Roth politely replied with a soft hint of sarcasm in his voice..." Oh, I'm so sorry.....but the way you behaved totally convinced me that you had much so.... I figured the queen in my hand must have been a figment of my imagination. "

Saturday, 12 December 2009

BRIDGE PLAYERS' SURVIVAL KIT..........SOMETHING THAT HAS LONG BEEN OVERDUE.......( Breath-taking, ground-breaking, outstanding article by Howard Bigot-Johnson ) Yes folks, if you care about others as much as yourself, you must tell them about this article. It is the proper and decent thing to do. And tell them to tell others, because what you are about to read may well save you ( and them ) from the torture and agony encountered within the competitive world of bridge. Yes, you know as well as me that big match arenas....... can be hell on earth. Far too many shell-shocked victims go limping away, determined never again to repeat the experience...........preferring instead to stay put in the safe havens and sanctuaries of their small super-friendly clubs. In such places peace treaties and pacifists are commonplace. But for the rest of us who enjoy the cut and thrust of heated encounters, we must recognise the fact that we too need some help in our quest to survive. So what I am suggesting is the revolutionary Bigot's Johnson Essential Survival Kit, containing the following twenty items........all of which are essential. Each item of course comes with a clear explanation of the precise circumstances in which it can be successfully employed:
  • Prayer Mat ......for all those desperate moments when only God can save you from a pending disaster
  • Ear Muffs.....guaranteed to block out partner's screams, and yells of derision
  • Abacus ( 4 rows of 13 ) assist you should you encounter moments of short-term memory loss
  • Crash Helmet .......should you ever feel compelled to bang your head against a wall
  • Powerful Antidepressants ......for emergency situations when you fast lose the will to live
  • Smiling Face Mask ....for when it becomes impossible to show appreciation and warmth towards others
  • Morphine Tablets be taken when bad results really begin to hurt
  • Flak Jacket .... in case any flak comes your way from an irate partner
  • Muffle Cushion ....should you ever want to vent your frustration by screaming out loud
  • Ice Pack ... to help cool you down should you get hot under the collar
  • Ice Pick ..... to bury into whoever is causing you pain and grief
  • Oxygen Tank ...for those inevitable moments when someone or something has taken your breath away
  • Voodoo Doll ( with pins ) ..ideal way to deal with those you seek to inflict vengence upon
  • Answer Book ....full of excuses to defend your actions, couched in unintelligible bridge gobbledegook
  • Sudoku Book occupy your mind, when players at your table " go into the tank "
  • Will ( blank copy of ) .... in case item 5 ( see above ) fails to work
  • Loaded Shotgun .....just for deterrent effect in case partner gets too nasty
  • Matchsticks help you stay away should slow players send you to sleep ( and you can't do sudoku )
  • Crime Sheet ( spare copy ) ..... this will please partner if you fill it out on yourself saving him time and effort
  • Alcohol Flask ( minimum 20% proof ) ....guaranteed to drain your sorrows

Friday, 11 December 2009

POKER SKILLS IN BRIDGE ARE ESSENTIAL.........................( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

To be a top class bridge player you must possess an analytical mind, a damn good memory, oodles of technical ability, plus a load of other equally important skills. One of these embraces a grasp of the maths involved in the scoring, but in the main it is the ability to play bridge like a professional poker player. Allow me to provide you with a couple of examples:

East/West have been dealt the following hands: (West holds Kxx....32....Qxxxx.....AKx while East is sitting with AQ9xx....void.....AKJ874....Qx) leaving you with only a good fit with partner in hearts. With both sides vulnerable West opens 1D, which partner overcalls 1H. East cues bids 2H to show game going values and a good fit in diamonds. You bid 3H which is followed by a forcing pass, and a simple pass from partner. East then steps in with 3S, which West raises to 4. East sensing a slam somewhere now bids 4NT to ask for Aces. So with your 4-5-0-4 distribution and 5 HCPs it is imperative you re-enter the bidding with 6D !! The poker player in you would make such a call, for it now becomes impossible for your opponents to make a correct judgement. Doubling 6D would enable you to escape to 6H, which if doubled earns E/W a paltry +800 for three off. If passed out the penalty inflicted is 12 off for a tempting +1200. To bid 6S could be a risky gamble to gain +1430. To bid 7D to net +2140 requires too much courage having to bid it blind, after being denied the bidding space and opportunity to find out more about partner's holding. This hand actually cropped up during an international match, where 6D undoubled was passed out. This earned North/South a magnificent result, especially when their team-mates came back having bid the diamond grand slam.

In my second example West holds: AQ10x....QJ10xxx....AQx......void, and having opened one heart, your partner makes a pre-emptive overcall of 4c, but East comes in to bid the vulnerable 4H game. With a hand full of garbage except for four clubs to the queen, what do you bid ? Well, the poker player in you would always stick in a double !! What is West to do ? Redoubling would only cause his opponents to retreat into 5C. Bidding on carries certain risks, especially if partner had stretched to 4H ? Moreover, 4S doubled tick with a possible overtrick looks very tempting indeed. Well, at the table the penalty doubled was passed, and when dummy came down it was too bloody good. Thirteen tricks were there for the taking, and so +1390 turned out to be a very poor reward indeed for E/W. This bogus penalty double in bridge parlance is known as Striped Tail Ape Double. It is designed to steer opponents out of bidding slams. Redoubles will only lead to rapid retreats, which these apes are renown for. But more importantly, these doubles cleverly tempt opponents into taking what appears to be a wonderful gift, when the reality is the gift is going in the other direction.

In both the above examples, the poker skill also involved recognising situations where there was nothing to lose but everything to gain. One might argue that in each case you need good judgement to know that the opponents had rock-solid slams on, but there will be occasions when you and your partner recognise the genuine slam potential of the opponents' hands before they do........and that is the time to make these poker-type bids, which always completely put the opponents on the spot.........often bamboozled and fixed . This forces them to make extremely difficult calls, which in many cases they will get wrong.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

BRIDGE AND PROSTITUTION : DO THEY HAVE ANYTHING IN COMMON ?............ANSWER: YES.............. ( Curious observations by Pun )
  • You can't beat old pros for experience
  • Quick tricks are the first priority
  • Laydowns are common practice
  • Protection has its merits
  • Entry problems often occur
  • Any finesse has limited results
  • Sacrificing one's honour has to be done
  • Making contracts is the name of the game
  • Good fits are very desirable
  • Big raises are always well received

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

AS AGEING BRIDGE PLAYERS................. YOU KNOW YOU ARE OVER THE HILL WHEN........................( 3rd article in the series by Pun )
  • You need your partner to help you cross your legs
  • You re-open the bidding by repeating your first bid
  • Players comment about the "squeaky" chairs, but the source of the noise problem are your knee joints
  • Told to sit east, you ask the bar steward for a compass
  • You begin to wonder if at any time you were ever on the top the hill
  • Seats you vacate as a moving player are slightly damper than they were before
  • Your regular partner buys you a portable abacus for Christmas
  • The club's newsletter is considered as an enjoyable read
  • You know all the warning signs of a heart attack
  • You prefer all your partners to have names beginning with "Dr"
  • You insist that all partners have a relevant up-to-date first aid certificates
  • Looking down at the cards involves no movement of the head
  • New partners often ask you what colour your hair used to be
  • Holding your cards "in" is easier than your stomach
  • Your short-term memory loss allows you to leave the club with a clear conscience

  • In bridge you often hear players berating their bumbledog partners as either "idiots" or "lunatics". But hold on they...and for matter do you.....know the difference between an idiot and a lunatic ? The boundaries that separate the two can be horribly blurred, and in some instances they widely overlap. So this is why I have decided to spend some time looking into the problem of defining and distinguishing these two over-used terms.
  • Let's take the following hand where declarer is in 4S and receives an opening club lead. In dummy he sees: x ....Qxx....AKxx.....KQ109x..... opposite his: AQ109xxxx....Jx....x....AJx..Taking the first trick in dummy with the queen ( pitching his own jack ), he plays off two top diamonds to throw away a losing heart. Now, providing spades break no worse than 3-2 all he can lose is 1 heart and two spade tricks at most. However, at trick 4 declarer elects to take the spade finesse with the queen that loses to the king. Back comes a club which is ruffed by the RHO ! This is followed by a heart to the Ace for another oh-no club ruff to come. The contract is one off.....and that is a classic example of IDIOCY. All declarer needed to do was to play a spade to the Ace and another, happy to concede two trumps to the defence...,.. but not three.
  • Lunacy on the other hand smacks of the total absence of any reasoning and/or logic. For example, take a player who is sitting over dummy's Q108 with KJ9, clearly well placed to make two tricks in that suit, even if declarer holds the Ace. But overcome by a lethal combination of desperation and fantasy thinking, the madman will come to an unfathomable conclusion the time is right to boldly play the king. If later asked as to what on earth possessed him to do such a crazy thing, the answer might well be as follows: " Well, partner we needed two tricks to defeat the contract, and this required you to hold the Ace ". Now reasoning like that certainly helps us to understand the meaning of lunacy.
  • However in bidding, the boundaries between idiocy and lunacy are a little more obvious. For instance, how would you define a player who initially passes ( green against red ) on Axx....Jx...Kxx......Axxxx, and then after watching his opponents confidently sail into 4S, decides now is the time to bid his club suit the 5 level !! This of course goes off 5 for a whopping 1100 penalty. Asked to defend his action, the inevitable nonsense pours forth. " I didn't expect partner to have a Yarborough.....and I thought 3 off for minus 500 would be a good save." This kind of thinking in my view is insane for a multitude of reasons. The obvious one being 4S could easily go down if partner holds no more than 2 clubs, and the diamond king is favourably sitting over the Ace. Moreover, should partner have a real shortage in clubs, with the Ace of diamonds wrong, 3 tricks might be the maximum possible... opposite a totally useless yarborough. Perhaps, it is worth mentioning at this point that leading psychiastrists agree that both these terms are not mutually exclusive.
  • Thankfully, only a very tiny minority of club players are ever like to be correctly diagnosed as idiots or lunatics. The truth is that out there in the world of bridge, there are thousands upon thousands of players , who fall into the category of MUDDLE-HEADED WOMBATS. These are people to whose logical thought processes regularly short-circuit. Their heads are lost in confusion and indecision, often pre-occupied with other unresolved issues and problems in their life. They seem to operate in a fog of uncertainly, allowing irrational ideas to muddy the clear waters of logical reasoning. Indeed, many of them have a condition known as " DEMENTIA PRAECOX " . This affliction is neither idiocy or lunacy, but it crosses the boundaries of both. Sufferers develop a thought that what they are about to do will be wrong, but despite this gift of insight they go ahead with this thought anyway. Immediately afterwards, they will all be quick to apologise to their partners : " Sorry, I never really meant to do that....I just don't know what came over me." Indeed, research has shown that their ability to talk themselves into making the wrong bid, or play of the cards, is based on the absurd notion that the less likely an outcome, then the more likely it is to occur. Tragically, for the muddle-headed wombat with dementia praecox, the battle between logic and inverted logic will rage on forever within his tortured mind.....
  • So unless you are an expert in this psychiatric field, capable of diagnosing idiocy and lunacy correctly, I would advise you to stay clear of using such terms. If partner does something which defies logic or beggars belief, it would be much safer....and more use this alternative label.

Monday, 7 December 2009

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...........................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, I thought my partner was an experienced player, but he went down in an ice cold game. After I laid into him good and proper, he then turned on me for over-bidding !! Taken completely aback, I was rendered speechless and unable to reply. What should I have said ? Yours angry as hell, Arnie
  • Dear Arnie, I have looked at the hand in question where you held: J8xx.....AKxxx......xx....xx opposite your partner's KQxx......J9....AQx.....Kxxx, and in my view the right course of action was for you to apologise. Although the club Ace, diamond King were fortunately sitting right, you have clearly mis-analysed the hand. For a start, if it was ice-cold then howcome your partner went down ? Moreover, I could see at least one or two ways in which competent defenders could defeat 4S. From a different perspective, given that your partner had already failed to convince you of his experience, howcome you pushed him into game on very thin values ( combined 23 count ) ? Sure enough as the cards lie he has 5 side-suit winners outside trumps, but he needs to make five trump tricks in order to see the contract home. But with hearts breaking 4-2 and spades being led at every opportunity, only four tricks in spades will be available. Surely, you can see that. And on a final point, if the opponent's hands were reversed, the contract would have been a complete disaster.
  • I therefore recommend the following books for you to read in the hope they will correct your bidding deficiencies:

Avoid Jumping To Premature Conclusions ..........Callum Downe

The Conversation Of Bidding ....Lady Chatterley

Bidding: Catering For Problem Hands.........Noel Cook

  • These groundbreaking works will help get you back to winning ways irrespective of who you are partnering. Remember, it never pays to over-bid your hand, if you don't trust partner's declarer play. Moreover, table presence is about knowing when to push on or bow out of the bidding.....something I suspect you haven't got. Yours putting things into perspective, Rood
TAKING A FINESSE IS OFTEN A BAD CHOICE........................( By Johnny Supremo )

Just lately I haven't been doing too well. Coming second and third is something I'm not used to.....but I put this temporary blip down to partners who still have much to learn about the game. The last two or three robotically elected to take on finesses when better options were available. So for them, this ninth lesson of mine is on "finesses", or should I say when to reject them.

Finesses, when you have nothing else to go on, work 50% of the time. And all to often I see declarers taking finesses when they are doomed to fail. So what are the circumstances when finesses should be rejected, and only used as a fall back position.

  • End-plays: Situations can occur where you engineer the opponents to lead away from their king into your Ace-queen. Imagine you are in 4S and have a doubleton Ace-queen of diamonds in dummy. The opponents have been stripped of trumps and hearts, and after the Ace and King of clubs, you throw your RHO in to take his winning club. He will either be forced to play another club for a ruff and sluff, or lead away from his king of diamonds. In both instances the potential diamond loser has gone away.
  • Playing for the drop: If you know from both the bidding and the play, that the honour you would like to finesse is sitting wrong, then why bother. It is far more sensible to go for the drop. Often, in a 4-4 trump fit missing the queen and the ten, a finesse through the jack is standard practice. However, if it is odds-on that the queen is sitting over the jack, then playing for the drop of the queen doubleton becomes the only sensible option. Indeed, there are many situations where it is equally sensible to reject the finesse of a King, by going up with the Ace in the knowledge ( or hope ) of felling an offside singleton King.
  • Playing for a simple squeeze: this situation occurs quite frequently and should always be looked out for. Imagine, a game contract can be made if you avoid losing a heart, In dummy you hold queen, jack doubleton in hearts (opposite your Ace-x ) along with 4 diamonds to the Ace,Queen Jack. You know or suspect the LHO opponent has the King of hearts guarded, and four diamonds to the King-10. Having played seven rounds and conceding three tricks, your hand has come down to one trump, Ace-x of hearts and 3 small diamonds. On the play of the last trump your LHO is fixed. Either he bares his King of hearts, in which case you pitch a losing diamond to make the last 5 tricks. This is done by by finessing diamonds with the jack, back to the Heart Ace (dropping the King), finessing diamonds with the queen, to finally cash out a winning queen of hearts and the diamond Ace. Should your LHO pitch a diamond on the last trump, then the heart jack is thrown from dummy. With two successful diamond finesses, you make one heart and all four diamond tricks.

So you see that in each of the above examples, playing for every finesse was losing bridge. If only my last few partners could have taken this advice on board........

Saturday, 5 December 2009

HOW TO BE SMART AT BRIDGE..........................................................( By Bigot-Johnson ) Contrary to my usual policy of kidding around, this is going to be a very serious and useful article. There are.....let's face it......only a few of us who are able to play bridge well, gobsmacked at the fact that the majority can't. In reality, the world of bridge has always been a pretty dumb place, with only a handful of players in each and every club who could be described as smart. To foolishly say that bridge clubs by and large are overwhelmed with dumb players is not the purpose of this article. To help the vast numbers of dumb players, who are out there desperate to be smart, is exactly what this article is all about. And with smartness in a minority, it's odds-on that you are one of those in need of help......especially, since you're reading this post. So cheer up....for you are only seconds away from discovering how to become smart at bridge. All you need to do is follow my advice to the letter. For instance, what makes a bridge player smart ? Is it because he thinks he's smart ? Naah ! Every goddamn bridge player likes to think that. So that doesn't count at all. What makes a player smart is when other players think they're smart. So should they see you arrive at the table looking smart, then automatically they will think you are smart. The point I'm making here is quite simple and's how you look and act that makes them think you're smart. Once they believe in your smartness......then so will you.


  1. Always wear reading glasses even if you don't need to. These will give people the impression that you are widely read, and therefore highly knowledgeable.
  2. Discretely wear a "Mensa" badge, hoping enough people will take notice of it and be duly impressed. It matters not a jot if you have to steal one or forge one.
  3. For men certainly helps to have a well-trimmed goaty beard. Wearing a white shirt with cuff-links on the sleeves, under a bespoke dark jacket also helps to give the right impression. For women, it is essential to wear a white blouse, plain coloured recently purchased knee-length skirt, with colour co-ordinated shoes and matching handbag. Hair must be tied back, preferably in a bun.
  4. Make sure when you sit, you are both upright and still. Because sitting is important in standing out. Moreover, outstanding sitting with sit you in good standing.
  5. Slip into your conversation big words, and philosophical insights and observations. This ensures that meaningless conversation is elevated to intelligent meaningless conversation.
  6. Cultivate a withering sneer.
  7. Endeavour to be a little quirky, eccentric and/or witty, which are all characteristics associated with genius.
  8. Develop a personal aura, which conveys a clear message that you are cultured, stylish and sophisticated.
  9. Always stay aloof........ but never fail to be polite.
  10. Look as though you are always thinking in a calm and collected way, even when your mind is empty or is in a state of complete confusion and panic.

Friday, 4 December 2009

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : BEICHY FINITUS When it comes to having misguided beliefs about things, bridge players are in a league of their own. Take for instance two recent clients of mine, who were brought along to me by concerned friends and family members. Each client had taken up bridge in the belief that it was as a very social and friendly game. So when the reality set in that it wasn't , their delusions moved onto the next level. This more disturbing development involved a misguided notion that heavenly bridge might exist elsewhere, especially in smaller clubs that offered their venues as warm and welcoming. At this point the extent of the victims' delusions had entered the realms of fantasy. With full-blown beichy finitus having set in, victims felt compelled to leave one club after another in search of their dream. Sadly for them, when they at last found a club which excelled in the social niceties of the game, they faced a unexpected challenge. During their initial visits they found themselves having to suppress their own irritations and anger, by having to ignore and overlook the thousands of minor transgressions committed by their opponents. But very quickly, their new found ability to delude themselves came to their rescue. In no time at all, their feigned tolerance and forgiveness became real and genuine, and that all minor transgressions were part and parcel of the game. So for me to get them to accept that their new reality was as hellish as the old one was possibly a bridge too far. Both these clients were so affected by their condition, they were almost at the point of no return. Not surprisingly, when I informed them of their disorder, neither seemed capable of taking it in. Moreover, both recoiled at the prospect of undergoing an intense programme of hypnosis and ECT. Indeed, this was their only hope. To my dismay, they seemed pleased with the diagnosis, knowing that beichy finitus had enabled them to find happiness in a game of duplicate bridge.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

SLOW PLAY AT BRIDGE : BIGOT-JOHNSON LOSES HIS RAG......... For pity's sake will someone explain to me why some players, despite their years of experience, still persist in taking oceans of time over how to bid and play a hand ? The number of times I've sat down at a table to witness the dithering, the dilly-dallying, the to-ing and fro-ing, the indecisiveness, which takes my breath away in disbelief and despair ..... has really got my dander up. I'm bloody convinced these brain-dead numskulls perceive time at a standstill. What can they be thinking about ? Are they looking for the bid or play of the century ? A master-stroke that is destined to win them approval and applause from above ? Are they contemplating a devilishly clever and deceptive manoeuvre that will bamboozle the opponents but hopefully not partner ? This quest for the wonder bid or marvellous play is never-ever in a million years ever likely to be found. And so what emerges is something of zero significance, being a typically bog-standard response at best . But oh, there I am suffering the agonising wait, while these players drift into a comatose state of prolonged and fruitless thought. Whatever the reasons for these periods of indecisiveness, they sit there like puddings, locking themselves away in the proverbial tank, remaining oblivious to the ticking of the clock, and deluding themselves over their ability to find the answers. Yet what makes my blood boil to a point I want to scream, is when a player on hearing his partner respond to an opening bid, appears to have no bloody idea as to what to do next. HAVEN'T THESE TOSSERS HEARD ABOUT THE PRINCIPLE OF PREPAREDNESS ? This simply states that whatever choice of opening bid you make, you have prepared sensible rebids for each likely response made by partner. Failure to do so is a crime, because if you have envisaged rebid problems over possible responses, then clearly your particular opening bid was ill-considered. I have reached a point now where I'm ready to kill slow players, because they more than bullies are turning this wonderful game into a living nightmare. They are selfish, inconsiderate, unsportsmanlike and dishonest. Their behaviour in my view is a form of cheating. They ought to know exactly what to do with the majority of bog standard hands that crop up time and time again. However, I would like to add that players, who do take time but then say produce a marvellously engineered squeeze have both my retrospective permission and ever-lasting respect. But bone-headed, dim-witted, slow players remain a permanent blot on the landscape. Unnecessary and pointless delays can only be regarded as blatant acts of provocative procrastination......and something needs to be done to combat this blight that is destroying this game.
THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY................................
  • Splinter : what's often left under player's skin after his irate partner has stabbed him with his pencil
  • Insufficient bid : one which is made with little or no thought whatsoever
  • Pass out : a requirement many male players find themselves requiring, if wanting permission from their wives to play yet another game of bridge
  • Goldwater rule : this states that any lead out of turn should generally be accepted : the rationale being that if a player does not know whose lead it is, then there is no chance whatsoever that the lead can be right for the defence.
  • Fourth highest : the smallest person at the table
  • Overcall : this occurs when two players are exchanging insults, but one is able to shout above the other
  • ROPI : how one might feel when turning up to play bridge, having been out on a real bender the night before. The term is an acronym for having previously been.... rat-arsed, obliviated, pissed, inebriated.
  • Fast arrival : usually occurs when a player gets over-excited by his partner's jump bid. Inevitably, it creates a rather awkward and sticky situation at the table.
  • Wriggle : something a player is forced to do when feeling distinctly uncomfortable in his seat. This inability to sit still always occurs after a fast arrival ( see above ).
  • Phantom endplay : a cleverly engineered manoeuvre where a defender is given the lead, being forced to lead away from an honour he doesn't possess
  • Wrongside : not the side of partner you want to get on if he is feeling particularly irritable or grumpy
  • Amnesia Double : this occurs when a player elects to make a lead directing double, failing to realise that he/she is on opening lead