Saturday, 31 October 2009

  • Oh yes, I have that X factor alright. As a man, I possess both X and Y chromosomes, but let me tell you that my X ones are big......really big. Each one consists of 1000 genes or more, which are therefore known as " X-linked genes". My Y chromosome , which carries the instructions for male development and little else, probably number fewer than a 100 genes in all.
  • However, having only one copy of X-linked genes ( one allele) makes men far more vulnerable to deleterious mutations that adversely affect the functions encoded by these genes.....certainly more vulnerable than females with two copies ( two alleles ). This explains why so many male-only diseases are attributable to defective genes on the X chromosome. Sadly, I am one of those men who possess gene mutations, which probably account for my club feet, nervous twitches, distorted facial features, hunched back, daily delusions of grandeur, coupled with intermittent bouts of insanity. However, one of my other abnormalities proved to be a godsend.........for I am truly blessed with a superb bridge brain......which my doctor says is all down to being a high level autistic oddity.
  • So unlike most men who have a normal insignificant x factor and of course weak and feeble minds, my X stands for bridge god.

Friday, 30 October 2009

BLOG REVIEW BY BIGOT-JOHNSON.................................. This blog is chugging along quite well, but for any newcomer reading this post, please be aware that there's some really good stuff buried way way back. Pun's book titles are strewn across 39 posts, alongside his 10 other articles. Rebecca Rood's agony aunt mailbag is getting bigger by the day, and with 20 replies she's really up and running. The Devil's Dictionary has been posted 17 times with a glossary of bridge terms that have real meaning in the bizarre world of bridge that exists today. Dr. John, a psycho-analyst of international renown, has shed light on at least 34 tragic and disturbing disorders affecting bridge players across the globe. Many of these make harrowing reading. Carp and Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi betwen them have produced 24 articles full of revelations and astute observations. Johnny Supremo strives on manfully to dish out sound advice on how to play the game ( 20 posts ), but really he hasn't got a clue. Blog readers would do much better to take on board my (Bigot-Johnson's) teachings, which are scattered in amongst my 23 truly inspired and inspirational posts. The remaining 23 posts are taken up with ten highly amusing Law Reports, seven contributions from Dr. Sigmind T. Schukelguber , and six from Bridgemeister Gibson. So there you have it.....lots to forage through....plenty of content to both shock and amuse.
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG.................................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, I have noticed that you tend to partner men in major congress events, rather than women. Does this mean you rate men as better players ( excluding yourself of course ) ? Yours curious to know, Peggy Malone
  • Dear Peggy, The only reason I play with men is just that.......I play with them......just like a cat with a mouse. Men are so easily teased and tempted into make some disparaging remarks about my game, but such actions would be sheer folly on their part. In fact, all my male partners have allowed themselves to become easy victims, to be lashed and berated by my rapier wit and acid tongue. Even I would wary of partnering someone like myself, because hell hath no fury like this woman's scorn. Yours always in ascendency, Rood
  • PS. You really need to read my latest book entitled " Dealing With Men Requires A Firm Hand, A Tight Grip, And Plenty Of Force". The chapter " Socking it to your sexist partner " may well be of particular interest to you.
  • We're On The Top Table. Partner !.........................R. U. Shaw
  • I've Overdone The Celebrations..............................Carrie Mee-Holme
  • Bridge For Amusement.........................................Penny R. Cade
  • Key Stages In My Bridge Career............................Miles Stones
  • Why I Hate Bridge In Winter..................................I. C. Rhodes
  • Bigot Johnson's Farewell Match.............................Kurt N. Caul
  • I Once Played For England....................................R. U. Kidding
  • Sharp Bidding and Sharp Defence..........................Stanley Knife
  • Bridge In The Jungle.............................................Eugene Metarzan
  • Why So Nervous, Partner ?...................................Freida Loozing
  • Let's face it there's not much point playing bridge if your partner is a complete bumbledog or an undisciplined buffoon. Wretched results will propel you into a nightmare world of gloom, despondency and despair. So I have laid down the 7 golden rules to anyone intent on being my regular partner:
  1. You must always come to the table with an open mind, and in most cases an open wallet ( remember you are playing with a professional )
  2. You must always pay attention to what I say, and follow my instructions to the letter
  3. Never lie to me about your hand ( unless of course you are a pain-loving masochist )
  4. Results are don't get complacent with average pluses
  5. Look for tells.....
  6. Without compromising rule 3, manoeuvre the bidding wherever possible so I get to play the contract
  7. You must take note of every single mistake you made. A written list will be sent to you soon after each and every session, with stern warnings that any repetition of such will give rise to severe verbal ear-bashings.

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.............................................................
  • Novice : a player without sin
  • Bust : the state your nose is in after partner has lost his cool
  • TD's ruling : a decision which never goes your way, irrespective of any convincing evidence or arguments you put forward
  • Rectify the count : a process that involves looking at your inadequate hand several times, until you arrive at a point count, which justifies the bid you were hell bent on making. In other words you keep on adding 2+2 until you get 6.
  • Balancing : a skill many less able players have to develop, especially if their over-demanding partners make them walk the tightrope

Thursday, 29 October 2009

GAY BRIDGE CLUBS ARE MORE COMMON THAT YOU IMAGINED .......( Research by Profesor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
  • Certainly, over the last 30 years or so, the world of bridge has witnessed the growth and establishment of hundreds of gay bridge clubs. Indeed, many can be found in most of the leading European, Canadian and North American cities. The main purpose of these clubs is to provide a prejudice-free environment, for members to enjoy the pleasures (say) of finding queens, making bold jump bids and snatching quick tricks.
  • But what caught my eye as I scrolled through the internet's gay bridge club listings were the fabulous names many chose to adopt. Names such as: Gaymasters Bridge Club (Dallas), The Bridge Boys (Los Angeles), Gay Forcing and Bridge Club de Looier (Amsterdam), Queer Nation (New Zealand) , Prime Timers (Toronto/Winnipeg), Quick Tricks and X Bridge Club (San Francisco), Tidewater Prime Timers (S.E. Virginia), and The Two Umbrellas (Long Beach, California)

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG..............................................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, I wrote to you sometime ago only to receive a rather offensive reply. Was it necessary for you to be so blunt ? Yours utterly distressed, Gaylord
  • Dear Gaylord, It's not in my nature to bend the truth, to beat about the bush, to indulge in euphemisms and gentle lies......I give it to people straight. You wanted to know how a rated you as a bridge player following our one-off ill-fated performance at the Brighton Congress. I have to admit that your cheque was the most generous sum I have ever received from a fee-paying partner, but the price I had to pay in terms of agony at the table was far far greater. I told you in my first letter that a straw man possesses a better bridge brain than yourself.......and that view is the one that I still carry today. Yours unashamedly Rood


  • I have just read Carp's posting about slow players, and how irritating and frustrating these people are. Indeed, it is a sad and tragic consequence that other players are forced to suffer and endure their selfish and inconsiderate antics. Well, I have been doing some extensive research on slow players, and from my findings there are 6 categories in which slow players can be labelled. These are listed below:
  • THE FAFFERS: these players are not slow players..............their crime is more to do with delaying the start of play, and disrupting the continuity of play. They inevitably arrive at the table late having been outside for a fag, a drink at the bar, a corridor discussion, a call of nature.....and so on. They spend an age greeting people, sorting their cards, getting themselves comfortable, asking questions about the opponent's' system cards, and of course their bidding, and always wanting an immediate postmortem after the play of each and every hand.
  • THE INDECISIVE: Here slow play stems from the player's inability to make choices. two-way finesses result in countless to-ing and fro-ing from one option to the other. If a contract involves 3 or more alternative lines of play, the dilemma is such that whenever a final choice is made......then a period of reflection is required in which the decision can be revisited and reconsidered. Often, during moments of reflection, one of the other choices becomes more appealing, perhaps the better one....or may be not. Perhaps their first choice was right after all, but there again they could be wrong.....moreover, was there another line of play after all, which they have completely overlooked ?
  • THE ANALYSTS: These slow players are cursed with an ability to analyse everything in depth. They considerate all their bids, the implications of such, and what their responses will be regards to partner's responses, and any opposition bidding. They consider the thousands of possible permutations that could unfold, before deciding on what is the best bid to make at that particular stage of the auction. At the start of play, they carefully consider the middle-game and end-game possibilities. Regarding themselves as intelligent, thoughtful, and rigorous in their approach to the game, they become completely oblivious to any thoughtless and selfish behaviour on their part. Their quest for perfection is their one and only concern.
  • THE BLINDED RABBITS: These timid players are always overcome by a sense of overwhelming awe and dread, whenever partnering an expert, or up against an expert pairing. If partner is an unforgiving results merchant, then the fear factor rockets up. Frightened to do anything wrong or foolish, these players are in such a state of panic, they freeze whenever they are put on the spot to make a critical bid, or play of the cards. Like rabbits in the glare of spotlights, they seem unable to move. The longer the delay, the more they become aware of the reactions of others around the table. This added embarrassment makes the process of reaching a decision, and acting upon it, that much harder. Their inability to make any move whatsoever is often attributed to hefty weight of responsibility and expectation, which is unfairly placed upon their rather inadequate shoulders.
  • THE PUDDING BRAINED: In every club they are always a sad group of players who were never blessed with any pentium-4 processors in the grey matter between their ears. What takes a nano-second for most players to work out, this hopeless bunch arrive at an answer several seconds later. Pathways inside their brains seem clogged up with treacle, restricting fast free-flowing processing of information. The proverbial penny always take an age to drop. They operate as fast as they can, but the reality is their brains tick over on just impulse power alone, when the demands of the game require warp factor 5 thinking and warp factor 6 conclusions.
  • THE UNETHICAL: These players unbelievably adopt slow play as a legitimate albeit unnerving tactic, designed to frustrate the opponents into losing their focus, and rushing their play. They know that superior opponents if given less time for their deliberations will become more prone to error......especially if they try to make up the time lost. This unethical practice without doubt crosses over the line into the realms of soft cheating. Indeed it is a very subtle form of intimidation, making time-conscious opponents unsettled, resentful and edgy.

Therefore, given the vast differences between these types of slow players, there appears little hope in Carp's solution to the problem ever succeeding...... except perhaps in rare cases. So can anything be done about this problem ? Usual things like warnings and penalties may help to keep the problem in check, but everyone knows about leopards and their spots. Sadly, I haven't got the answer. But what I do know from my research is that many players ( quite understandably ) refuse to pair up with slow players: this means that slow players find themselves completely abandoned with only each other to play with ......and so the problem takes on a whole new frightening dimension.

Monday, 26 October 2009

SLOW BRIDGE PLAYERS :THE BIGGEST IRRITANT OF ALL ( Article by Carp ) I have to admit that these players do make my blood boil...................their selfishness often beggars belief. Wherever bridge is played these slowcoaches are there to ruin one's enjoyment of the game. So please let me quote you a short extract from an article by Bruce Mcintyre from Vancouver, Canada.

  • "The biggest irritant in duplicate bridge, claimed a survey not too long ago, is not table rudeness, or complicated systems, or even anything to do with is slow play. Many experienced local players who used to play frequently are seldom seen at clubs these days. Is it because they play rubber at home? Because they've lost interest? Because they feel no need to beat inferiors? Because they've lost touch with the latest conventions? No. It is because they haven't the patience to play club bridge anymore, because it's too damn slow. As a result, many club games are getting smaller. Once you lose the top end of your player base, the remaining members don't attend with anywhere near the frequency of the bridge-crazy addicts, and attendence goes slowly down. You can point to a lot of reasons why attendence is off, but the number-one turn off is following a pair who are slow every round, and ( if you are a sitting pair ) waiting for the boards as always from the slowcoaches next door to be completed and handed over ! "
  • To a large extent I am in complete agreement with my Canadian soul-mate. I too cringe every time a slow player starts to ponder and ponder over every bid and play of the card, when it comes to their turn. Some of them go into the think-tank for so long, they appear comatose. For them, time seems to stand still, while the rest of us see minutes ticking away, and other tables packing up ready for the next move.
  • So why is slow play such a major irritation ? Well, if you are unfortunate enough to be following a slow pair around the room, waiting for them to complete their boards and vacate their seats, then 30 minutes of your evening could be lost by these repeated bouts of waiting-around. Eventually, when you get to the table you and your opponents feel duty bound to catch up, which often means rushing bids and decisions with the risk of making mistakes. Yet what real purpose? For having caught up with the field, ready to move when the bell goes, what do you find?.....Yes you've guessed it......the slow pair in front still have a board to play. How can anyone enjoy their bridge in such frustrating circumstances? "
  • Clubs in my opinion need to crack down on slow players in the same way as many clubs crack down on rudeness and bullies. I am all for clubs including slow play in their zero tolerance behaviour policies. However, my solution to this infernal problem is for clubs to single out the major offenders, and order them to attend a course of compulsory lessons ( instead of their normal duplicate nights ). This course of instruction would take the following format :
  • Session 1. A review of the law of theft, and how slow players are no more than time theives. Students would be then conditioned to despise and loathe all those who commit theft, especially time bandits like themselves.
  • Session 2. A thorough recap on maths division, with of course a focus on splitting time. Students will be given dozens of problems, where numbers are to be divided by 4. They then move onto dividing an allocation of time for 2/3 board rounds into 4 equal slots.
  • Session 3. Time estimation. Students will receive training in gauging time accurately, even without a watch. They will learn how to recognise the precise moment when a certain time slot has expired.
  • Session 4. Training in the art of speed bridge. Students will be expected to employ this skill ( of being able to make instant bids and play decisions ) especially when their own allocated time slots are all spent up.
  • Session 5. Communication skills with the focus on making sincere humble verbal apolgies to partner and opponents, in the event ( god forbid ) of exceeding their personal allocation of time to bid and play the cards .
  • Session 6. Communication skills with the focus on writing very effective begging and grovelling letters to club committees, in the event of being charged yet again with slow play.

It is my contention that all slow players must complete this course, and pass all the test papers set. Only after successful completion will they be allowed to return to the duplicate fold......hopefully as reformed characters. Players if necessary will have to resit test papers until they are successful. Under no circumstances can they be rehabilitated back into dulicate play without having obtained this clean bill of health.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG.....................................................

  • Dear Rebecca, Just recently I went off in 3 NT on a combined 30 points. What is the world coming to ? Yours a little Tad Mift
  • Dear Tad, Most players of little stature, such as yourself, constantly overlook the possibility that games in suit contracts represent safer and better options than no trumps. Indeed, I 've seen plenty minor suit slams go begging, with players determined to stand by their inferior 3NT contracts. Has it never occured to you that 30 HCPs do not necessarily guarantee a game in no trumps ? Indeed, it is equally possible to go off in 3NT on a combined 33 points.........should you be holding a jack doubleton opposite partner's queen doubleton ( in a seriously exposed suit ). I would also like to add that using a 2 NT opener to show 19-20 or 21-22 is poor bridge, in that the bid leaves little room to discover the potential weaknesses of each other's hand. Use 2C as the bid to show all big hands and be done with it. Yours suitably circumspect Rood

Saturday, 24 October 2009

TYPES OF BRIDGE PLAYER ......................................By Howard Bigot-Johnson
  • Forget all this bloody nonsense about club masters, regional masters, and grand masters and the like........there is and always will be four types of bridge player. These are as follows:
  1. Those who see things for themselves.
  2. Those who see things when they are shown.
  3. Those who try to see things but never do ( despite being shown a 1000 times ).
  4. Those who are so blinded by their own stupidity and outrageous arrogance, they fool themselves into believing they are in category one !

Friday, 23 October 2009

  • In bridge, as we all know well, there are known squeezes: squeezes we know we know. We also know there are known unknown squeezes: squeezes we know by name, but not knowing how they arise, or how to execute them. Finally, there are the unknown unknown squeezes: squeezes we don't even know the existence of ( let alone their execution ), because as yet there are still to be discovered.
  • So if you want to become a really good player, you need to know about squeezes that you don't already know about, especially the unknown unknown ones. For this to happen you need to first stumble upon one by accident at the bridge table, but having the wit to know that one was actually unfolding before your very eyes. Although you know a squeeze is happening you still have no bloody idea as to why or how. All you do know is that your opponents are becoming more uncomfortable by the second as the hand is being played out. Their under-the-breath mutterings and moaning clearly indicate that they are the victims of an excruciating squeeze.Sometimes, if you are lucky they will come clean about their torment.
  • Nevertheless, for you to know the true nature of this squeeze by which a name can be given to it, it may be necessary to know someone who could fill you in. That someone of course is me ! I can assure you that I will be able to identify, explain and label even the most rarest and subtlest of squeezes.........why just the other day I came across the most unusual " double-sided, double twist, dummy reversal, stepping-stone, flip-flop, triple guard squeeze ( with pike ) " .
  • So if any of you out there have come across a squeeze play you never intended, and still know nothing about, please send me the hand details ( with description of play ) via the comment box. I shall then be able to convert the unknown unknown into a known known. Yours in the know.....Bigot-Johnson

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

  • If you decide to break , or go against, sacred bridge rules ( such as leading from 4th highest against no trump contracts ) be it on your own head. Sod's law might well come to haunt you as explained below :
  1. When you elect to depart from a bridge rule, it will not turn out be the right occasion. As a result you will end up with a very poor board indeed.
  2. However, on all subsequent boards where you decide it might be best to abide by the rules, each one will turn out to be an occasion where departure from such rules would have earned a top. As a result, you will have to settle for a field average.
  3. If by chance you miraculously manage to pick the right moment to depart from a bridge rule, you will inevitably make a transgression during the bidding, or play of the hand. This will allow the opponents to obtain a TD's decision in their favour. As a result, the top that was initially coming your way will now be wiped out, leaving you with a below-average score.
  4. If on the othe hand you were able to (a) pick the right moment, (b) avoid making a transgression, and (c) obtain that top you were desperately craving for......then you will later discover that the board in question had to be scrubbed. This will happen because, mid-way through the session, some idiot in their over-excitement and unbridled joy ( namely you! ) will foul up big time,,,,,, when incorrectly returning the hands to the board.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

THE TEACHINGS OF HOWARD BIGOT-JOHNSON......................... Please ignore all the earlier crap spewed out by that so called upstart Johnny Somebody. I am the man you bridge players new and old need to listen to. So let's kick off with the 4 rules you really need to follow, if you really want to get somewhere in the world of bridge.
  • Rule 1: Decide which bridge rules you intend to follow, as opposed to those you don't
  • Rule 2 : Of those rules you intend to follow, this rule simply states that " they need not be followed at all times"
  • Rule 3 : As to the few occasions you still decide to follow these bridge rules ( without enacting rule 2 above ) this particular rule states that " you can always retrospectively change your mind "
  • Rule 4 : And on the extremely rare occasions you still continue to abide by your original selection ( without choosing to enact rules 2/3 above ), then this final rule states quite categorically that " if no benefit comes from this blind obedience to these self-imposed bridge are at liberty not to do the same again "

Monday, 19 October 2009

BRIDGE BOOKS GROSSLY UNDER-RATED........................... ( By Pun )
  • Partner Said He Was Going To Thump The TD.........Egan N. Dunnett
  • In Bridge, Whatever Will Be Will Be........................Kay Sarah Sirrah
  • Bridge Is Not that Easy...........................................Howard Izzitt
  • Have You Got It Now, Partner !..............................Isobel Ringing
  • Staying Calm And Focussed...................................Eve N. Keele
  • Dressing Up For The Big Occasion..........................Peregrin Trousers
  • My Partner Played Magnificently...........................Zoe Didd
  • Keep Prodding Partner...........................................Casey Knapps
  • Then Clock Him One...............................................Casey Duzz
  • If We Lose This, We're Down...................................Cohen Ferra-Burton
BRIDGE BOOKS BEST FORGOTTEN...........(As recommended by Pun )
  • Tearing Into Your Opponents............................................Cy Coe
  • Sorry Partner, I Went Into My Shell...................................Perry Winkle
  • Don't Desert Me Partner...................................................Sue Flay
  • I Couldn't Get You In Partner.............................................Fanny Small
  • It's Not Your fault, Partner.................................................Ivor Stonker
  • I Like Big Hands With Shape.............................................Polly Gonn
  • First We're Up, Then We're Down......................................C. Sawing
  • You Need Me In Your Team...............................................Ann Kerr-Mann
  • We're Riding High, Partner.................................................Christopher Wave
  • Should The Captain Make Changes ?..................................Enid Knott

Saturday, 17 October 2009

NO FEAR BRIDGE...................................................( By Johnny Supremo ) This concept is usually applied to a crusade to encourage newcomers to enter the world of duplicate bridge. The idea is that the regular and experienced players attending are all under strict instructions to be warm, friendly, courteous and sympathetic. However, my idea of no fear bridge brings me onto my next bit of advice.............. Lesson 8 : Don't be afraid to double. When opponents sense you are new to the game, there will inevitably chance their arm to steal part-score contracts. So if you believe that you and your partner hold the majority of points, and that your hand has (i) obvious potential to take a few side suit tricks as well as chances to make one or two ruffs, or (ii) enough points and trumps to make life horrible for the opponents.........then be bold and wield the axe. When the points are divided 20-20, and the opponents have bid up to the three level, the conditions may be right to stick in a double. Take it from me, hungry doubles of part-score contracts provide rich pickings. So what, if on occasions the contract makes despite best defence ! So what, if on other occasions it makes because of sloppy defence ! The key to successful bridge is to be brave but not foolhardy. Let the opponents know that you're not the type to roll over and die, or to let them walk all over you. Let them know you mean business, and that you have that predatory instinct. If you allow fear to affect your judgement, then you will miss out on those juicy + 500, 800 and 1100 scores. Moreover, you must get into the maths of match pointed bridge. Let's take for example, a hand where you bid up to a makeable 3D ( going to 4D would be a bit chancy ), and you sense the field score is likely to be +110 your way. Then, you are shocked to see your vulnerable opponents bid on to 3H. If this is left undoubled going 1 off, you only score +100, and how many match points are you going to get from that ? Answer: sod all. So the maths tell you that your best option is to double this contract, earning +200 for a well-earned top. Just because you're new to the game doesn't mean you have to play the part of a pussy's so much more enjoyable to behave like a lion.
DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : DESTRUCTUS SELF-INFLICTA.... This rather disturbing condition is renowned for its devastating effect on both the sufferers and their respective partners. While it persists, the victims potential to improve at the game becomes seriously undermined. Moreover, in extreme cases, victims become prone to suicidal tendencies and self abuse....................unless, of course, their unforgiving partners have got to them first. The symptoms only manifest themselves at the bridge table, after the bidding and/or play of the cards has manoeuvred them into a successful position. For it is at this critical point that victims inexplicably and unerringly make one more fateful bid, or the play of a card that defies all logic and reason. The consequences of these fleeting moments of madness turn galactic tops into abject bottoms. Huge winning plus scores are inevitably replaced by rather embarrassing minuses. This compulsion for a victim to shot himself in the undo and ruin all the earlier good work......possibly reflects behavioral traits such as complacency, panic or misplaced kindness towards their opponents. However, treatment is available in the form of lessons taken from Howard Bigot-Johnson's infamous best selling books " Bait Your Opponents And Never Let them Off The Hook " and "Shoot To Kill".
DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES......................................................................................... There are many disorders and afflictions that give real cause for concern to the medical establishment.Thankfully, there are others which have no serious implications, and are often easily easily treated. However, there is one disorder that seems to affect more bridge players than all the others put together. In itself it is quite harmless, because in essence it turns bridge players into harmless competitors. The name given to this highly prevalent affliction is : RIGI-DAEMIA ROBOTICA. Other psycho-analysts tend to use the alternative labels of WOODENITIS or FLAIRINABSENTIA. All victims display the same tragic characteristics. They behave in a repetitive and routine manner in every aspect of bidding and card play. Like automatons, the victims are compelled to act as though they are following pre-programmed instructions. They always lead their 4th highest against a no trump contract, and they only bid 1NT when holding a very flat hand, 12-14 points. They never choose to depart from these old teachings on bridge, even when the situation cries out for a little flair and imagination. This condition certainly affects those with high anxiety levels, who tend to throw "wobblies" if asked to do something different or unusual. However, treatment is possible for nearly all of the milder cases. Their anxiety levels can be reduced through relaxation programmes, followed up by courses aimed to develop their self-confidence and assertiveness.......which also include several compulsory lessons on creative bidding and play.
KITCHEN BRIDGE UPDATE...................................................( By Professor Hu Chi ku Chi ) Back in early September I did a post on " kitchen bridge", in which Stourbridge BC was mentioned as most likely place where this term originated. This was in 1932 , when the club's early membership consisted of only cooks and culinary experts. Well, not much has changed over the last 77 years, since members today still persist in using kitchen-basted vocabulary, when flinging insults at each other across the tables. One recent incident was reported in the Stourbridge Chronicle as shown below: ................................................................. As one pair were leaving the table a sad looking South turned to his partner admitting " what a terrible hash I made of that......". But before he could finish the sentence his frustrated partner replied " no doubt a concoction of scrambled brains, half-baked ideas, all added of course to an exceptionally thick stock ".

Friday, 16 October 2009

BIGOT-JOHNSON'S TIPS FOR UNSETTLING OPPONENTS........(Guaranteed to put them off their game )

There are occasions when a little guile is needed to unsettle your more experienced and able opponents, if you are to achieve anything like half-decent results against them. Often these players have a long list of things that irritate or annoy them, which are usually associated with the bad habits displayed by the riff raff members of your club. But these horrible habits could be a godsend in giving you that competitive edge. So here a few you could develop:

  • Fiddling and fingering the bidding box before finally getting around to making a bid
  • Slow agonizing play on the first hand, which limits their thinking time to a bare minimum, especially on the last boards. If the last board can't be played...all the better....because let's face it an "awarded average" is a fine result
  • Finger strumming on the table, preferably with a beat that is incongruous with the speed of play
  • Heaving heavy sighs, which could double up as yawns
  • Constantly revisiting your hand: fanning and re-fanning of the cards ( ad infinitum )
  • Drinking and/or chewing gum while you ponder over the play
  • Slowly pulling out a card to play, only to replace it and select another, only to replace that and make another choice, only to go back to the first card to start the process all over again
  • When a card is eventually played, a card-snapping action needs to be employed order to provide a sharp contrast to the comatose proceedings
  • Spending oodles of time looking at the traveller, and discussing the results
  • Criticising partner ( even if he/she has done nothing wrong ). Often this creates an unpleasant atmosphere around the table which is solely designed to unnerve the opponents even further
  • Wafting your hand to and fro over the dummy's unplayed cards, when partner as declarer is pondering over which card to play
  • When dummy, always nip off to the toilet and/or bar towards the end of the hand, ensuring that when you come back you've kept your opponents waiting for at least 2-3 minutes

As it happens, there are a dozen or more other things which could also peeve your opponents. But trust me when I say it is the above which guarantee good results against players, who would normally take you to the cleaners. It may seem highly unethical, but in bridge there is no room whatsoever for sentiment. Accept the reality that in every sport, including this one, loads of "dodgy stuff" goes on. I accept that cheating is unacceptable.....but having a few bad habits isn't quite the same.

JOHNNY SUPREMO RESCUES THE SITUATION................ Well, there I was in 4 hearts when dummy came down with a hand that was a bit too good. Why I put the brakes on I do not know. My trade mark has always been aggressive bidding yet for once I chickened out. Partner's hand was : ....J8764....63....AKQ6.....A7.....which certainly took care of a few losers, opposite my : .....A.....AK98754....754...92. Hell, if hearts were breaking 2-2, 4H +2 was not going to get me a barrel load of match points on this board. But thankfully, the lead of the spade queen gave me a glimmer of a chance of making all 13 tricks. This way, I could end up beating all those who settled in 4 hearts but only making 12 tricks. Taking the first trick with my stiff Ace, I drew trumps in 2 rounds ( not good news ! ), and went across to dummy with a diamond. A second round of spades saw me ruffing, but I noticed the fall of my LHO's 10. Back to dummy with another diamond to run the jack of spades. My LHO opponent felt obliged to cover with his King, and so I ruffed the trick ( West showing out ). Back to dummy with a third diamond, happy in the knowledge that this suit was not breaking. Now came the 8 of spades, covered again by East with his nine, and ruffed by me. Now it was plain sailing, as I entered dummy again with the Ace of clubs ready to jettison my losing club on an established spade. Mercifully, this elementary play was enough to scramble a few extra match points, to keep me in pole position. And what did other declarers do to only make twelve ? They all chose to limply play out diamonds straightaway, hoping for a 3-3 break and a club discard on the fourth round. My approach however simply combined both options, which more than doubled my chances of pulling in that all important 13th trick.
SENSATIONAL NEW BRIDGE BOOKS OUT ON SALE.................................( Research by Pun )
  • Did We Suffer A Complete Wahitewash !.....................Sophie Waters
  • Bridge On The Inside..................................................J. L. Byrd
  • What My Partners Think Of Me...................................Loda Crap
  • The Orange Book Repealed....................................... Max Jaffa
  • Coming Good At Last.................................................Ivor Wright-Hardon
  • Partners In Crime.......................................................Aidan A. Bettin
  • 64 Boards May Be Too Much For Partner.................... Ken. E. Hackett
  • Disciplining Your Partner.............................................Cass T. Gate
  • What We Won ?....Are You Really Sure?.....................Paul N. McHain
  • Bidding On Peanuts......................................................Arthur Hand

One of my life long ambitions was to be an author.....or at least a regular bridge correspondent.......but alas I'll have to settle for being a blogger. But some of you out there with better connections, or a fast growing reputation as a genuine bridge celebrity, there's still a chance that you might make it as a bridge columnist. So if you become one, please heed the words of Keith McNeil ( the regular bridge correspondent for the Adelaide Daily Mail ), who had some right good advice to anyone who found themselves having to do a write-up on a player he or she had come to loathe :

  1. If you dislike this person, do not write up his good hands.
  2. If you really dislike this person, choose instead to write up his bad hands.
  3. If you dislike this person intensely, it would be better to write up someone else's bad hands but attribute them to this disagreeable player.
  4. If you absolutely and utterly detest this person, it becomes imperative to write up his good hands but attribute the fine play to his partner.

A tongue-in-cheek article it may have been, but for the demon writer in me it made real sense.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : THE KENNETH WILLIAMS SYNDROME This disorder reflects a persecution complex of such magnitude that some victims end up completely paranoid. Convinced that there are people out there, determined to get them, victims with this syndrome view powerful opponents with deep suspicion. The syndrome fist came to prominence, when the man himself played Caesar in one of the classic " Carry on " films. In the story, he convinces himself that wicked and evil plotters were ready and waiting to do away with him. Then in an acute state of anxiety and dread, he blurts out these unforgettable words: " Infamy, infamy....they've all got it in for me". Yet strangely, it is only in the world of competitive bridge, where one sees countless numbers with this terrible affliction. In their warped and paranoid minds, they see themselves as minnows swimming in pools infested with sharks. These sharks, of course, are usually expert players , notorious for their ability in "bunny bashing".....notorious for being extremely efficient at " shooting fish in a barrel" . These predators have only one mission to accomplish, and that is to conspire together to reek untold havoc on those chosen for punishment. Victims convince themselves that these evil monsters are solely out to get them. They believe that these persecutors have only come into their lives to be their nemisis ......players who are hell bent on giving them bad scores. Not surprisingly, when the symtoms get out of control, panic sets in. This, of course, guarantees the boards played against them will produce nothing but bottoms. Victims of this syndrome are simply victims of self-fulfilling prophecies.
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG.............................................................................
  • Dear Rebecca, Since reading Howard Bigot-Johnson's blog I have come to the conclusion that this bloody-minded bigot has only brought his big balls to bridge blogging, managing only to baffle peoples' brains with bucolic buckshot buckshee! Moreover, the mere thought of this man mouthing off even more madcap drivel might well bring down mountains of misfortune upon all those, who are misguided enough to read it. If you cannot cancel out the controversial crap that this cretin cluelessly creates, then who can I turn to? Please crack this c*** over his cranium with a killing cudgel. Yours usefully Ustinov
  • Dear U, Take it from me that Howard Bigot-Johnson is a living legend. Much of what he has to say you must take with a pinch of salt. His blog, plus his contributions, were never aimed to please you.....but the thousands of people out there who enjoy looking at both the lighter and darker side of bridge. My advice to U is visit other bridge blogs ( most of which are packed with useful, interesting and entertaining material ).......or get a life ! Bigot-Johnson may be an impatient, intolerant, out-spoken, and outrageous hypocrite but I love him. Yours, find your own killing cudgel, Rebecca.

GOOD BRIDGE ADVICE FROM THE MAN HIMSELF .....the incredible Pun ....Bridge seems to be a game where everybody thinks that they are qualified to dish out advice. These self-appointed messiahs and prophets are bloody everywhere, chipping in ( or even interrupting ) any bridge conversation where answers are sought, or guidance is called for. So if you are one of them, prepared to carry on with this pompous, high-and-mighty posturing, then read the following story.......and think again. " Once upon a time, there was a rather loud and boisterous lion, full of his own self-importance. One day, he hunted down a bull, and managed to devour the entire beast. As a result, this proud and noble lion got up and started to roar as loud as he could. Indeed, he kept it up for quite some time, until a hunter came along and shot him. And so the moral of this story is clearly obvious: WHEN YOU'RE FULL OF BULL, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
PLAY BRIDGE SENSIBLY: SO AVOID THOSE 7 DEADLY SINS...............( By Johnny Supremo )
  • Lesson 7 : When the Dallas Aces were developing their team, they came up with a list of actions that were complete no-no's. These 7 deadly sins are mistakes that can often be avoided, if care and discipline become the 2 foundation stones on which your game is developed:
  1. No win declarer plays. If, for instance, making a contract requires certain cards to be in certain places, then no matter how long the odds are, go for it.
  2. No win defensive plays. This maxim ( and the one above ) are judged not by the result, but whether the play made couldn't have been right. Plays that were destined to fail seem completely pointless in more ways than one.
  3. Bidding without values. In legal jargon, this means avoid giving false, misleading, descriptions about your hand. Decisions and judgements made by partner need to be based on reliable information about your hand. Ignore any temptation to psyche an opening bid.
  4. System violations. If you play to system, learn it by heart, stay disciplined, and never knowingly, or intentionally, depart from it. If you don't understand or like a convention, then don't have it on your system card.
  5. Unilateral actions. Bridge is a partnership game. Some decisions are best left to partner. In a competitive auction, it may be prudent for you to pass if partner is still there waiting to make a bid. For instance, bidding on when partner was "waiting to double" often converts a certain top into a galactic bottom.
  6. Mechanical mistakes. Take care not to fumble or drop the cards, play out of turn, revoke, or play the wrong card. These can all be avoided if concentration and focus is never allowed to falter.
  7. Impulsive action. In bridge, there is always sufficient time allocated to " think about what to bid and play", before actually doing so. Rushing in without due thought and consideration can often lead to situations where you fall foul of a danger, which you have should have spotted, or allowed for. Often, when you ask yourself first " what could go wrong?", safer options pop into your mind. For instance, banging in an opening bid, where you haven't got a sensible rebid, seems both careless and insane.

PUTTING THE GAME INTO PERSPECTIVE.................(By Johnny Supremo ) Lesson 6 : To be a good bridge player, you do need to take the game seriously.......but not to the point where results become a matter of life and death. The reality is that even if you and your partner's really get your act together, results on most boards remain outside and beyond your control. You can do nothing about the brilliance and/or idiocy taking place at other tables. Learn to keep things in a philosophical perspective, by taking on board the following maxims:
  • You're not alone when it comes to making mistakes. Even top class pairs who notch up 69% will reflect on errors that cost them some of the missing 31%.
  • Gifts handed out to opponents are often given back ( plus more ).
  • If good players have bad days, so it must be OK for you to have some.
  • Fortunes in bridge always tend to fluctuate. If you're at the top you can only go down. And if you're at the bottom, you can only go up. And there's nothing you can do to avoid that. So why not experience and enjoy the wonderful roller-coaster ride called bridge.
  • When a mistake has been made, why beat yourself ( or partner ) up about it. The past cannot be changed, and crying over spilt milk is a pointless, wasteful and counter-productive exercise. Just mop it up and start again.
  • Some mistakes are so calamitous, so farsical and so comical, the only proper thing to do is share a laugh with partner, and smile at the prospect they will make great bar room stories in weeks, perhaps years, to come.
  • If mistakes help to move your learning curve on, then you and your partner should regard them as both valuable and effective teaching aids.

DEVIL'S DICTIONARY..................................................................
  • Experience : a marvellous thing that enables you to recognise the same mistakes you made the last time
  • Red Against Red : the term was first coined after an incident during a Crockford's final, when two very hot-headed Russians came up against each other in a highly explosive encounter
  • Opponent : someone you set out to (i) stick the boot in, (ii) whack, and (iii) axe, at every opportunity in this very sociable and friendly game
  • Relay : a clever system whereby drinks purchased at the bar are passed from person to another until they reach the seated recipients. A practice is usually seen in clubs where trays are in short supply.
  • White : the colour of your face after dropping a major clanger. This paling phenomenon was first noticed, when a club expert discovered the vulnerability his way was also red. However, this was after going 3 down in a doubled contract, meant as a save against the opponents' 3NT.
  • WAG : an acronym for Wild Approach Guessing. This frowned upon practice is only used by bridge players who are dealt wildly distributional hands with few HCPs. Having no bloody clue as to how to bid them, they just make one random punt to end the auction.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

  • What Would Have Happened Partner, If I Had Bid....?......Theo Rise
  • Bridge Vocabulary And Glossary Of Terms.....................Lexi Conn
  • Gay Bridge Men...........................................................Lou Kit / Anna Lee
  • My Partner Really Takes Liberties..................................Randy Gitt
  • The World's Most Knowledgeable Bridge Player..............Ima Knowle
  • Leading Your Opponents A Merry Dance........................May Pole
  • It takes Me Time To Get Things Right............................Dilly Dalley
  • We Need To Talk, Partner !...........................................Claire D. Ayre
  • It's Nice To Be Acknowledged As Winners.....................Pat Sonya Back
  • Another Bottom, But Do I Care ?...................................Alf Huckett
  • Bridge Talent Runs Through My Family..........................Jean Poole
  • Unusual Two Suited Overcalls.......................................Major Ann Myner

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

BEST BEHAVIOUR AT BRIDGE: EBU NEEDS TO ADOPT CARP'S CHARTER ............ There are articles all over the place droning on about unpleasantness within the game. This insensitive behaviour not only ruins the enjoyment of those adversely affected, but it makes the future of bridge look very bleak indeed. Potential newcomers may be put off from making enquiries, or they quickly leave clubs after their first experience of aggressive table antics. So I have come up with a list of rules that the EBU should impose upon all its members. Any breach of these rules, clubs should be advised to suspend members on the first two occasions, but on the third breach it's a permanent exit from the club. Bridge has to be an enjoyable experience for everyone. All players are entitled to leave the club on any evening with happy memories........and with egos intact. The rules in question are in a charter, entitled:
  • The purpose of this charter is to get all players striving to earn reputations for being tolerant, polite and courteous. Respect should only come to players who show understanding, forgiveness and empathy to others. For many, such behaviour comes naturally, but for the rest the following code of practice needs to be spelt out.
  • Don't preach rule: Don't give lessons ( unless of course you have been paid to do so ). Moreover, to presume that you are beyond reproach for your bridge prowess is the height of vanity. Is your name Zia, or what ?
  • Don't criminalise rule : Never insult or crime your partner for an action regarded as "normal" or "standard", it does on some occasions.....results in a poor score.
  • Reciprocation/discretion rule: Never say anything to your partner which you would object to, if someone had said the same to you. If you are unsure about whether or not to say something......say nothing. Unless your intent is to clear up a misunderstanding avoid discussing the hand just played. And if you cannot resist making a remark, at least try to be discreet.
  • Accomplice rule: Never criticise or embarrass your partner in front of others. Moreover, never gang up with the opposition if they should make any cruel or disparaging remarks about your partner's bidding and/or play.
  • Anger management rule : If you cannot overcome the urge to explode.......desperate to bombard partner with nasty, sarcastic, loud, destructive verbal missiles......then take a short walk into the club's car parking area outside. Once out of ear-shot , muffle your screams into one of the cushions, handily located by the exit doors for such a contigency.
  • Humour therapy rule: Try to embrace the idea that it is OK to enjoy the game, and have fun at the same time. Why not for a change share a laugh with partner, over the comedy of errors that landed you both in the mire.
  • Responsibility rule: If you must feel the need to consult other players about hand disasters, in the bar afterwards, as part of the post-mortem ritual, then only deal with issues concerning your play and bidding....and not partner's.
  • Balancing rule: Saying only negative things to partner smacks of cruelity and persecution. Always attempt to balance any negative feedback with positive feedback. Choose to look for positives first, and be willing to compliment and praise partner whenever you can. If you're not prepared to say anything which is helpful or supportive, say nothing at all.
  • Privilege rule : If partner has given his/her consent to hear what criticisms you're keen to make, do not abuse this privilege. Use it to provide constructive criticism, and helpful does not give you the right to sling insults and hurtful remarks.

But will the EBU adopt this charter....who knows? But for anyone who plays bridge and has just read this blog, the message is clear. So please go out and spread the doctrine...............there's no time to lose.

  • When things go wrong for your troubled partner at the bridge they always seem to do........don't get stroppy with him............instead, just follow the advice of ZIPPY, GEORGE and BUNGLE.........and just say to your partner " we know a song about that.....don't we ?"........before proceeding gently to recite some wonderfully reassuring and soothing lyrics.

Not so long ago I did a posting on August 10 th on " Why you really lose at bridge ", which laid the majority of blame on Murphy's Law. This stated that " if anything can go wrong it will ". For all those players predestined or fated to be the perennial victims of this law, bridge will continue to heap upon them endless pain and misery. Despite their futile attempts to change tactics, partners, seating positions, venues, systems and conventions, their run of bad luck is destined to continue forever. My research into this phenomenon has proved quite an eye-opener in that there are so many instances of the law at work. Each illustration explains why so many players see themselves as born losers, and life-long victims of this cruel and unforgiving law. The following represent the various ways in which Murphy's Law can inflict untold grief upon its victims :

  • No matter how bad their last scores were, far worse are yet to come
  • The more they pray for their partners to " stay quiet ", the more likely their partners are to carry on bidding
  • When asked to make critical choices or decisions, they will always turn out wrong, even when every other choice on offer looked fraught with danger
  • On critical hands their finesses never work
  • Moreover, losing finesses in these situations comes in groups of 3. The fourth finesse to fail is in fact the start of the next group of 3
  • Should they, or their partners, inadvertantly drop a card (face up) on the table, the opponents are then permitted to determine its eventual play. Inevitably, the card in question is an honour card which is duly sacrificed or wasted, allowing the opponents to make what was an impossible contract
  • As soon as they fail to make their contract, they immediately recognise the winning line of play
  • Competence has no correlation to years of experience and study. Their journey in bridge has always been on a downward slippery slope.......which for them was like buying a one-way ticket to nowhere
  • The more trumps they hold in their hand, the same good fortune applies to one of their opponents. This mocks the law of averages. Should they be blessed with an 6-2 trump fit, one opponent will turn up with the other 5
  • Even if the trumps break 4-1, the opponent with the singleton cannot be stopped from making a ruff
  • When it really matters, such as defending a slam, loss of memory will occur as to whether or not a particular card has been played . As a result, the victim of Murphy's Law finds himself at trick 12 having to discard say one of two red queens. Forced into making a guess, the choice is certain to be wrong.....thereby allowing the slam to make
  • No matter which seats they occupy, the computerised deals always place the opponents' the bigger honour cards over theirs
  • The person they hate losing to the most is always the one who inflicts outright bottoms on their scorecards
  • If towards the end of a session they have just managed to lift themselves off bottom place, wretched results on the last 3 boards automatically send them back down to where they were
  • No matter how badly their opponents bid, they cannot help but end up in the right contract
  • No matter how badly their opponents play the cards, the particular distribution and layout of the cards is such that the contract comes rolling in

So, if you have the misfortune of falling victim to Murphy's Law, then live with the fact that your bridge will remain forever in a permanent rut. But there is no need to beat yourself, or blame yourself, for your bad results. Bad luck, it seems, is an enemy, who no one as yet has conquered.

THE RIGHT WAY TO PLAY BRIDGE.................................( By Johnny Supremo ) The right way to play bridge is always to be in the right frame of mind, when bidding and playing the cards. Feeling nervous, agitated, flustered, upset or distressed will never allow you to achieve such a goal. Self-confidence is a crucial factor in trying to stay cool, calm and collected. So this leads me onto my next lesson.
  • Lesson 5. Finding the right partners. Yes,it is always a good idea to find partners who can bring your game on. However, this will never happen if you allow them to destroy your self-confidence. Playing the game in a troubled state of mind can only lead to poor results and further condemnation from your over-bearing partner. Try to pair up with players renown for their patience and understanding. Sadly, these two virtues are often in short supply when it comes to bridge players. Playing with someone who is too good, but also too intolerant and demanding, is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. The value, therefore, of getting a good partner cannot be understated, for he/she might well bring out the best in you......or at least allow you progress and improve without any confidence-shattering setbacks. Ideally, look out for partners who are known to give praise and encouragement, which more than balance out any gentle criticisms they may feel compelled to make. And if you do have a bad experience with a new partner, try to regard as a good learning experience. At least you'll know what type of players to avoid in the future.

Monday, 12 October 2009

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES................................................................. When it comes to bridge-playing clients, I have never come across any as pathetic and weak as those who suffer from DEFOETAL NONTRITUS. This disorder is the manifestation of the "weakling child " that Jung claims we all possess within our psyches. It is one of our inner selves, an integral part of us, which we all must learn to recognise, accept..... and eventually confront during some stage of our adult life. Often the manifestation occurs when adults experience fear or extreme anxiety. The child suddenly emerges as the chosen-self, best able to deal with the situation. In the case of some bridge players their regression into a child-like state occurs whenever they find themselves in a dire and hopeless situation at the end of an auction. Either the contract appears too difficult for them to make, or that the penalty double ( by their opponents ) looks more than likely to cause some serious damage. For them the proverbial roof falls in, given the weight of partner's over-optimistic expectations, and over-powering wrath. As a result, the inner child appears, and they can do nothing to confront or reject this side of themselves. Those seriously afflicted with this disorder immediately succumb to petulant and infantile behaviour. All too often, they throw in the towel, before curling up in their seat in the foetal position. Inevitably, the contract is woefully played out with an air of wimpish defeatism. By not trying, the outcome becomes even more of an horrendous result, which in then the trigger for a full scale tantrum. Now, their child-like instincts are solely focused on self-preservation, which require partners not only to protect them, but to take responsibility for their plight. Soft-soothing words are the only ones which have any chance of calm them down. These must also be coupled with apologies, where partner must elect to take the blame for the disastrous outcome. Indeed, when it comes to dealing with a fragile,delicate, and very distressed little child, partners are compelled to put aside their anger and frustration ......and offer love, forgiveness and comfort instead.

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...........................................................

  • Dear Rebecca, The other day I found myself in 7NT in a combined 29 count. My initial thoughts were as dummy came down "one bridge too far"..........because it looked like I had losers in every bloody suit. Dummy had come down with : ........J52.....AK4.....AJ62.....AQ7..opposite my rather lop-sided single suited hand of: ...AK10964....J53.........Q.....983. A cloud of defeatism must have hovered over me, because I proceeded to play the contract 2 off losing 1 heart and 1 club. I will not give you the other two hands, but is there any way the contract can make? Yours slighty embarrassed , Martha Bellingham
  • Dear Martha, I know the hand well, because it was the one that came up in the Sims recently. I too was in 7NT and like you a got a nasty jack of clubs opening lead from my RHO. So I had to bite the bullet, get out the prayer mat, and stick in the queen. It held. Now I had to consider what else had to be right for this precarious grand slam to come in. There was only one miracle possible. My RHO opponent had to hold everything everything, including queen doubleton in spades, five clubs, hearts to the queen.....and the king of diamonds. At trick 2, I ran the jack of spades (not covered) and so I hopped up with my King. Then came the queen of diamonds, covered by the King, and taken in dummy with the Ace. The jack of diamonds was immediately played next, pitching a club from my hand. Now I ran off 5 winning spades with the suit breaking 2-2. My hand was now down to J to 3 in hearts and a small club. RHO was squeezed: either he kept his 3 hearts and the stiff king of clubs, in which case dummy would have been reduced to A/K of hearts and A7 of clubs ( making all four). Or if RHO kept 2 hearts and 2 clubs, dummy would have been reduced to AK4 of hearts and the Ace of clubs, allowing me to make 3 tricks in dummy along with my jack of hearts. Simple eh ? So in future, if the only way to make a hand is for a certain layout to exist....go for it. In bridge there is always hope...and miracles can happen. Defeatism is a sad trait that far too many players possess. Yours always in ascendency, Rebecca.

BRIDGE LESSONS....................................( By Johnny Supremo )

Sadly, the bridge world is full of people who claim they know better. They will be keen to point out, every opportunity..... the errors of your way. So dealing with criticism is something you have to learn, and then master. So please take note of the following two lessons:

  • Lesson 3 : Dealing with constructive criticism. As a newcomer to duplicate and/or tournament bridge, you are now amongst players who always find it hard to tolerate partner's mistakes. They will feel duty bound to point out your errors, often in a manner of a school-teacher. Comments are usually in the form of constructive advice, tips and helpful explanations, but the aim is purely to "correct" and "educate" you. What you have to learn here is that this form of criticism is not about "knocking you", it is more about "knocking you into shape". Often the comments will be very helpful and supportive, and many will be worth hearing and taking on board. So learn to welcome this type of criticism rather than fear it.
  • Lesson 4 : Dealing with criticism over-load and destructive criticsm. Sadly, some of your partners ( or even opponents ) will have a tendency to make rude and offensive remarks. Some will merely berate the limpness of your bidding and play, while other comments will be much more personal. Their critical remarks will offer very little in the way of value. They are only dished out so they can unload all their negative emotions......their impatience, frustration and anger. The fact that it is all counter-productive means nothing to them. They are in essence the bridge bullies. What you need to learn here is how to cope in such situations, where the degree or the nature of the criticism is unacceptable. There are 3 strategies you might like to consider:
  • (i) Absorption: This all about developing a sponge-like head, along with some thick skin. If any destructive criticism gets through this first line of defence, your mind is prepared and ready to soak it all up, without incurring any psychological damage or pain. You need to adopt a philosophical perspective that "the things that are being said are rantings of a deranged and damaged individual, who needs to be sectioned ". Look upon the bully as a prat, who has now played his/her last game with you.
  • (ii) Deflection : It may be possible to deflect unwanted and unnecessary criticism by getting in a quick apology, showing loads of empathy for their upset feelings......not to mention tons of remorse for the your sins . Acknowledge where you went wrong, and how stupid you were. This way you are bound to steal their thunder. In some situations, where blame for a disaster can be apportioned, the best form of defence can be attack. Suggest that it was perhaps their errors that were indirectly responsible for yours. If, for instance, partner crimes you for leading K from Kx into dummy's Ace ( while the queen is sitting in declarer's hand ! ), point out in an assertive manner....that bidding that suit twice on 5-to-the-jack was the far bigger crime.
  • (iii) Rejection : This involves standing your ground and not allowing the bully to make or get away with such unpleasnt remarks and/or behaviour. Tell them at the first opportunity that destructive comments or criticisms are not welcome or appreciated. Insist that they keep their mouth shut and their negative emotions under control. Suggest to them, that the end of the session is the right time for them to offer some useful observations and guidance....... stressing as well, that it is essential for you remain unflustered, and to have a clear head, if disasters on the next hand are to be avoided. If all else fails call the TD to lodge a formal complaint , knowing that there will be no shortage of witnesses . This may well have a sobering effect on your bullying partner, especially if the club is committed to up-holding its zero-tolerance policy against bad behaviour.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

  • A perfect partnership understanding occurs when one player thinks " damn it, it's my turn to go to the bar ", at the very same time his partner (sitting opposite) is thinking " it's his bloody turn to go to the bar ". The perfect timing and synchronicity of what needs to be done next is something that all us bridge players must try to emulate.
DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES.......................... The other day a new patient of mine came into my surgery with a most unusual physiological abnormality. He had a rather long, slender, giraffe-like neck. And this was inextricably linked to the more serious problem of his OCD. This man had an excessive compulsion to cheat at bridge. The irresistible urge to use the advantage of his long neck, to sneakily peek at his opponents' cards, was causing other players to treat him like an outcast.....a pariah within their midst. This man had in fact CRANE'S SYNDROME. Indeed, this disorder was first reported, when a Dorset doctor (of all people) was caught cheating at his local club......but only after having stretched his neck so far over, it completely seized up in that position. In a desperate attempt to straighten his neck, his embarrassed partner tragically failed to realise his own strength...... in that he only succeeded in breaking it several times over. Since then other victims, who also found themselves with seized necks protruding out at 45% angles, all had the good sense to seek corrective surgery. This of course was always followed up by the compulsory wearing of neck collars. Those who suffer from milder symptoms often complain about a "pain in the neck" after long bridge sessions. As it so happens, these are the exact words that other club members often use to describe such abominable people.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

EXTREMELY RARE BRIDGE BOOKS TURN UP AT AUCTION..................( As discovered by Pun )
  • Selfish Bidding........................................Ima Wright-Hogg
  • Festive Bridge.........................................Carol Singer
  • I'm Always A 69-er..................................Connie Lingus
  • This Game Is Driving Me Bonkers............. Ed Case
  • I've Got What My Partners Look For......... Gloria Stitz
  • I'm Gonna Tell The World I've Won.............Hugh N. Krye
  • Bridge Is War..........................................Hollie Cost
  • Playing Contracts In Your Sleep...............Otto Pilot
  • Accidents In Play....................................Di Rea
  • It's Retribution Time, Partner !...................Tanya Hyde

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES.......................................

  • CRONON'S SYNDROME : This syndrome was first discovered in the early 1930's, when a pioneering psycho-analyst came across a sufferer during a major bridge tournament in London. He had only attended the venue in order to watch his wife play. As it happened, the afflicted person had just received some prize money by coming in fifth, whereupon he began to crow non-stop to all and sundry about his superior bridge prowess. This endless diatribe, full of self-worship and self-congratulations, concerned this analyst so much that he appealed to this nauseating individual to visit his surgery as soon as possible for urgently-needed therapy. Inevitably, he received an emphatic rejection only to see him drone on with even more determination to boast about his brilliant triumphs and coups. However, the risk of this syndrome getting out of control was growing by the minute......a situation that was causing untold distress and abject misery to all those cajoled and obliged to listen. The analyst could take no more, and so he immediately seized him by his throat, throttling him to death. This brought instant relief to all those concerned.....not to mention endless rounds of cheering and applause, befitting of a hero's intervention. Not surprisingly, a charge of murder was brought before the Old Bailey judge, but common sense prevailed when the sympathetic jury had no hesitation in returning a "not guilty" verdict. They explained to the judge that this was, in their eyes, a case of justifiable homicide. The judge. who also had a pathological hatred for braggers and boasters, agreed.
LEARN TO PLAY BRIDGE ! ( WITH JOHNNY SUPREMO )........... The aim of these lessons isn't about telling you how to play bridge, but how to become a good bridge player. But this requires you to get through the early and difficult stages of being a raw beginner, novice and newcomer to enter the more demanding duplicate or tournament arenas. For me the most important lessons relate to you developing the right attitudes and right frame of mind for the difficult challenges ahead. Anyone can teach you that with a 12-14 point hand, you should open 1NT playing Acol. Well, that is rank bad teaching. Judgement might well dictate that a "pass" is a far better bid, when the hand is a horrible flat 12 count, vulnerable against not.....against superior opponents. Just quietly sit back and await developments. Anyway, back what I have in store for you: lessons which will focus on how to survive in the world of well as, what you need to do to achieve success. So here are my first two lessons:
  • Lesson 1. Learn by your mistakes, so don't be afraid to make them. As a beginner you will have a lot of information to take in : rules on bidding, safety plays, elimination plays, throw-ins, signalling methods, various conventions, when to use them and how to name just a few topics. It is always foolish to take on board too much too soon, but it is necessary to try things out. If decisions and actions you take are wrong, then so what ! Providing you learn from them is all that matters, because then your game will rapidly improve.
  • Lesson 2. Avoid repeating your mistakes. Taking a losing finesse is not a mistake, if that is the only option you have for making the contract. However, it might well be a mistake if that losing finesse can be avoided, by setting up a simple elimination play, which is then followed by a successful throw-in. Drawing trumps is not a mistake if the contract is risk-free once the opponents' trumps are out of the way. However, such an action might well be a mistake, if the contract clearly depends on (a) setting up a cross-ruff, or (b) looking to use dummy's short trumps to get a sneaky ruff in. Mistakes that reflect poor judgement and/or flawed thinking are the ones you must strive never to repeat. Once bitten twice the clear message here.

Friday, 9 October 2009

IS IT ONLY ME WHO CAN SPOT THE DANGER?...................( Article by Johnny Supremo) Yet again, I played a simple 3NT tick for what should have been a flat board. But no....the scoresheet was littered with 3NT-1 all over the place. What on earth were others doing? Dummy had come down with a tasty: 8......K103.....Q10.....AKJ9876, opposite my flat one no trump opener:.... AQ6.....875....KJ98....Q104..... Most LHOs would have made the aggressive lead of heart queen from QJ64. It seemed obvious to me that if a put up the King to be taken by my RHO's Ace, a switch to a high spade , such as the Jack/10 with the king off-side , I would be in real doo-doo. I would be forced to try the queen ( it loses ), and with spades being continued I would be limited to making only 8 tricks ( 7C,1S ). The cover of the heart queen clearlydenies me that oh-so-valuable heart winner, which I desperately need before the defence switch their attention to spades. So what would any sane and rational declarer do? Answer: Allow the queen to hold trusting in your LHO to hold the Jack. Spades of course can not be attacked at this point. And so West has no other option except to continue hearts. This, of course, enables me by sticking in dummy's 10 of hearts to create that ninth trick I'm after...... before my spades come under attack. So always remember many contracts are won and lost by the choices we make at trick one.
WILL THESE TABLE ANTICS EVER STOP........( Article by Dr.Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
  • There are some bridge players that really push my patience to the limit with their highly unethical bridge table antics. Nothing causes me as much grief as " the double " card. Yes, we all know that in the early bidding, doubles are presumed to mean one thing....... but if it is the other then they must be alerted. Simple isn't it ?.... But only if you know what the presumptions are in each particular bidding scenario. However, when the bidding reaches game level, doubles are usually for business, but there again there will be some rare exceptions. Many honest partnerships often reach a stage in the bidding, when a double by one leaves the other a little unsure as to its purpose. This uncertainty and confusion inevitably gives rise to poor (or rank bad ) judgements ....... and quite a few wretched scores. Yet there are others out there, who are quite prepared to use all sorts of table antics to get across to partner what their doubles really mean.
  • First off, we have the speed indicators. Doubles played quickly carry one message, doubles played in tempo carry another, and the slow double, of course , which offers a very valuable third option. Years ago, I once came across a couple who used a speed indicator with their doubles very effectively, in the context of a take-out bid over an opponent's opening suit at the one level . The speed indicator flagged up precisely how many HCP were held by the doubler, by the number of seconds that elapsed between the two bids. A very slow double meant a really big hand, where an eight-second pause meant an incredibly light take-out double indeed. Next we come onto those weighted doubles, which according the the degree of force they hit the table they are either " never-in-a-million-years pull this double partner ", as opposed to the lighter,softer " we need to take some action but what ? " Add to this a whole repetoire of body language, facial expressions and other visual tells, and we now have a few partnerships, who have no problem whatsoever about informing partners of the their doubling intent.
  • So what can be done to address such problems as: doubles where partners remain oblivious to the alerting rules or just plain forgetful, doubles which are misunderstood all around the table, doubles which carry with them bucket loads of unauthorised information, and lastly, those throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air doubles which are either based on frustration or reckless speculation ? Well yes, I reckon the bridge authorities need to introduce the concept of 4 different types of double cards ( and perhaps re-double cards for that matter ) : one which is strictly for take-out, the other for penalties, a third which says " if defending, lead this suit ( I've whacked ) because I either possess good honours cards in it... or a shortage ", and finally, one which says " I simply have a problem, but I need you to work out what it is, and what action therefore you need to take ". Life at the bridge table would be far less stressful.......if this idea of mine were to be adopted.