Thursday, 29 April 2010

ANIMAL FARM SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE...... ( Fantasy bridge story by Pun )
Life on the farm had not changed much, with " equality " still the norm.......except when it came to playing bridge. Here, there were two clear divisions : those who can play the game ......and those who can't. Indeed, all the animals took up big stakes rubber bridge as a way of enhancing their modest income, which of course came from an equal share of the farm's weekly profits. This year the farm was holding a winner-takes-all rubber bridge tournament, where the triumphant pair would walk away with all the booty. The last two pairs, who made it through to the final play-off were the much fancied Chicken Licken and Billy Boy Boxer, up against the rank outsiders Percy Pig and Orson Carte.
Now down to the last few boards, both pairs were level on 19500 points in the race to reach 20,000 first. One successful game bid and made could secure victory for either of them. Percy Pig was first to bid. He had been wallowing for some time in the glory of a remarkable come back from being several thousand down. He was now ready to bring home the bacon to please his wife, but the hand he picked up filled his head with both dismay and disappointment : xx....x...Q1098xxxx....QJ. Reluctantly, Percy elected to pass, as did Billy-Boy.
Orson, who was born on another farm not far from Canterbury, had come to regard his partner as " the hideous hog ". Trying to end up as declarer had been like flogging a dead horse......but Percy had been playing like a demon over the last few rubbers......pulling in one contract after another. Who the hell said pigs can't fly ? However, his hand was also bereft of HCPs except for two Black Beauties ( Aces ) : Axx...xx....Jxx.....Axxxx.
He too elected to pass.
In the fourth seat was Chicken Licken, who was now looking cock-a-hoop. His hand was almost a two-level opener :, but 1H was his preferred bid. Again Percy passed, but Billy Boy suddenly had his tail up too. His Q10xxx....Jxxx....K......Kxx surely was enough to make 4H a simple formality. He wanted to go home top dog, looking to give some of the winning stake money to his girlfriend Kay Nine. So the 4H bid hit the table, followed by two more passes.
But Percy Pig had other ideas. He too wanted the money for his piggy bank.....and so a 5D sacrifice might well keep them in the least for a bit longer. Two more passes quickly followed. Chicken Licken was at the cross-roads. Aware his mind was tiring ( he was no spring chicken anymore ), he knew much depended on making the right call. He needed this tournament win to keep his place in the top of pecking order. He couldn't risk 5H, when a double might be far more profitable. To bid on could leave him with egg on his face. Laying down a " double " was his best option alright. And it was this bid that ended the auction.
Billy Boy pondered hard and long. " You to find a lead " said Orson, whose dry throat made his voice sound rather hoarse. Thinking that the jack of hearts seemed the best bet, he was pleasantly surprised when it won the first trick. On seeing a second heart in dummy, he decided to continue with the suit ! How wrong that turned out to be. This was ruffed by Percy, who prompted led out a small diamond felling both the stiff king and Ace. A belated switch by Chicken to a spade was taken in dummy with the Ace, and after a successful club finesse, followed by the suit being ruffed out, there was an established club set up in dummy to provide a parking space for Percy's losing spade. Contract made.
Percy Pig, despite having a stye in his eye, winked at his partner. This was the Trigger for Orson to rear up in delight. A quick gallop poll of the onlooking kibitzers certainly revealed how much they wanted Percy to win . Chicken Licken was now spitting feathers, unable to keep his pecker up. He knew his final bid wasn't up to scratch. Billy Boy then barked at him in no uncertain terms : " I have a bone to pick with you. Not only was it a foul double......but you could have overtaken my jack of hearts, switching to a spade before the diamonds had been played. " Chicken stretched out his neck and replied : " Don't give me that innocent hang-dog 10 of hearts was a command to you to lead spades, because if I wanted a heart continuation I would have surely over-taken your jack fool. "
And while those two carried on arguing, the winners slipped away to stuff the prize money in their pockets as fast as they could. Would life on animal farm ever be the same again ?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG.........................
Dear Rebecca,
Do you think there is too much snobbery and elitism in the world of bridge ?
Yours still unable to get inside the inner circle, Toby Shaw
Dear Toby,
As in any world of sport, players are drawn towards those they most identify with, possessing the same qualities, aims and ambitions. Experts will seek out experts, and losers will only find the comfort of equality by partnering other losers. In every bridge club players tend to find their own level, mixing and mingling with those they recognise as equals.
Elitism as such does not exist as something sinister or nasty. Nor is it a blatant demonstration of seclusion and superiority. The situation occurs simply because of an innate instinct we share with birds.....where, if we are of the same feather, we flock together. So it is best all round, if you can go and find your own outer circle.
As for your suggestion that snobbish attitudes might well prevail in the world of bridge, I am tempted to side with you on that one. In every group there are always one or two individuals who are pretentious, stuck up, uppish, uppity, and so-up-arses-of-their peers. These are the tossers who relish the idea of looking down on others below, with absolute disdain and rejection. They crave for elitist status, resenting the time they may have to spend mixing with the mere mortals....the riff raff .....the motley crews....that are all too common within bridge club memberships.
But on a completely different note....... what what really gets my blood boiling is the way that book publishers take the snobbish view that the only bridge material worth printing comes from well-known high profile celebrity players. Thank god for the net, I say, and the wonderful bridge bloggers out there, who produce great stuff for free.....most of which is very readable and entertaining. I have read dozens of bridge books over the years, but only a few were well worth the money I shelled out. As for the rest...well, the content was nothing more than mediocre and uninspiring. In that respect, bloggers have put such authors to shame.
And has any newspaper or book publisher ever come knocking on my door to publish my letters ? Not a chance....Why is that....... given my genius, sharp wit and unquestionable wisdom ? ....Answer : Not only do I remain fairly anonymous........but by my association with The Bigot has done irreparable damage to what little reputation I once had.
Yours struggling more than ever to make a breakthrough into the big time, Rebecca Rood

Monday, 26 April 2010

  • Let's Rid The Game Of Unethical Players.......................Warren Cheets
  • I'll Tell You What Happened To Me At Crockfords............Kay M. Last
  • Bridge In Ireland Comes of Age......................................Pat Land
  • Chinese Grandmaster Loses Again .............................Sum Ting Wong
  • What? You've Never Scored Less Than 60% ..................R. U. Furreal
  • If You Want To Win At Teams, Bring In The Big Boys......J. C. Bees
  • Partner, I Have A Request.............................................Heywood Jablome
  • Knowing Who Holds The Missing Queen Is Easy...........Ike Entell
  • If You Want A Monkey As A Partner Then......................Marian Hape
  • Bridge Professionals Go Undercover..............................Ida Downe

Sunday, 25 April 2010

SOME DECLARERS ARE JUST TOO DAMN GOOD.......( By Howard Bigot-Johnson )
Sometimes there is no justice in this world, when say on the verge of glory you happen to meet the one player who is and always be will your nemisis. There I was...up against a player who oscillates from being brilliant one minute to misreading bids and/or revoking the next. But against me......he always comes good......and this hand was no exception.
Love all....and so I opened the bidding with a super-mini 1NT ( 8-10 points). This was followed by a double from North, and two more passes. I redoubled, pass, and my partner bids 2C showing clubs and a major. Now this time round, it was The Man in the South chair who doubled. So I redoubled again ( saying partner please name your major ), pass, 2H from partner, double from The Man, pass....... and 2S by North. Now The Man bid 3NT to end the auction.
I led the 6 of heart, and dummy came down with, and declarer's hand as it turned out was Kx.....Q9xx....Q8x......KJxx. He clearly had a lot of work to do.
So he set off after taking the first trick in dummy with the stiff Ace, to play a diamond to his queen and my king. So I fired back another heart to be taken by my partner's king. At trick 4 partner returned the 10 of hearts taken by declarer's queen. Then the came the sickenly successful finesse of my diamond jack. So when he came back to hand with the king of spades, he sweetly finessed me for the jack of spades (!) to make the me zero match points.
Sure enough the scoresheet was littered with 3NT-1 all over the place, with the defence making 1S, 1D, 2H and 1C.
Why pick on me ?....I said to myself. And why play me for both jacks ? .....I said to him. His answer was both thoughtful and polite. " Two clues were there. You had come up with KJ of diamonds, and by inference the heart jack. So if you didn't hold the club Ace then it was almost certain you had the club queen and the spade jack. Moreover, if you did hold the club Ace, then you couldn't have the club queen......but still enough room to possess the spade jack. However, the main clue was your second redouble.....saying please partner choose your major. This indicated....but not conclusively....that you much preferred to play in a major, which suggested to me the presence of BOTH 4 card majors in your hand.
Upon my tortured soul.... how right he was, since I held : Jxxx......Jxxx......KJx....Qx
And the next board.....well history repeated itself yet again, when he pulled off one more piece of magic to dump me with another galactic bottom. Some declarers it seems are just too damn good.........
( Adapted from an original article written by Dave Robinson for Sheffield BC newsletter )

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Dear Howard,
I was reading with great delight one of your recent posts by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber, who was trying to explain why he perceived the world of bridge as incredibly bizarre. Some of his observations had dark undertones to them, but this is not a criticism.....................because the bridge world which I belong to is so dark and so weird, it's positively scary.
So here's my tuppence worth of observations as to why there is nothing to match the bizarre world of bridge, since this is where you really can expect to see the following :
- long term friendships ending in a matter of seconds
- people you have known as peace campaigners throwing down gauntlets left, right and centre
- partners who claim to be your friend constantly crucifying you behind your back
- more dishonesty going on than in a den of thieves
- loving husbands refusing to play with their wives ( and vice versa )
- arrogance and pomposity running riot
- players showing complete ignorance and/or contempt for the laws of the game
- nepotism rearing its head in all its various forms
- people doubting the sanity of others............ as well as their own
- members defending the indefensible
- players bad mouthing others for being ill-mannered
- highly educated people, with high powered jobs, failing to solve the simplest play problems
- players, who have no problem remembering tittle-tattle gossip, failing to recall the last card played
- people, who are oblivious to the sensitivity of others, whinging at the slightest untoward comment made against them
Yours a man like yourself, the one and only.......Fen Boy

Friday, 23 April 2010

LOOKING AHEAD TO TRICK 10...... AT TRICK ONE ! ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
The only way to be successful at bridge is to think ahead ....and plan ahead. My partner and I needed a couple tops to cement our number one position. I was dealt AKQ3....KQ7.....KQ107......A9, but my partner held a more modest 954...62....A942.....KQ62.
Six diamonds was a lay-down with 12 certain tricks, but I opted to take a punt at 6NT. However, with bad breaks there might only be ten tricks on top, However this became eleven, when East lead out the jack of diamonds at trick one. Now, by leading up to the king of hearts presumably taken by East with the Ace, I could take 8 tricks out of the first nine : 3 top spades, 4 diamonds and at trick nine, the Ace of clubs. This would leave a 4 card ending : me with 3.....Q7...(no diamonds).....9, and dummy with (no spades)... 6...(no diamonds)....KQ6. THE SQUEEZE WAS ON. East who started out with a 2-5-2-4 distribution was obviously holding 3 clubs to J108 and 1 decent heart. West who was clearly holding onto the boss spade, now only had room for 2 hearts and a club.
If now the 9 of clubs is played to dummy queen, with the king to follow. West is well and truly fixed : he must surrender the 10 of spades or the 8 of hearts. Slam well earned.
In other scenarios, the defenders are in similar trouble since between them they had to guard against 3 clubs winners, 2 heart winners and 1 spade winner, but each only had four cards to achieve this impossible goal. If East had the 3 clubs and the winning spade, then the queen of hearts at trick 10 squeezes him straightaway.
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...................
Dear Rebecca,
The other day I opened 1NT ( playing Acol 12-14), and I got severely reprimanded by partner after it was doubled...vulnerable....going off 5.....for minus 1400. The hand in question was Q76....K954....KQ....Q742. Had I made a big mistake or what ? Did I deserve such condemnation and abuse ? For here was I, partnering a hypocrite of a man, who informed me later on that he plays a mini notrump ( 10-12 Ist/2nd position ) with his regular partner.
Yours struggling to see the logic of his argument, Misty Windows
Dear Misty,
I'm afraid I'm with your partner on this one. Your opening 1NT bid was ill-judged and woefully naive, being a 12 HCP load of filth. Using a back-up zar point count method of evaluating your hand, your total only comes to 22 ( 12+8 + 2 ), which is 4 short of the required total to open the bidding at the one level. This should tell you, given the adverse vulnerability, to keep your mouth shut.
Indeed, looking at this hand from other perspectives :
- having 5 HCPs tied up in a 2 card suit is bad news
- if the opponents hold the Ace of diamonds , the king is effectively worth diddly squat ( nothing )
- lacking useful intermediates weakens the hand even further
- there is no decent suit to speak of
If you must open on such tat, I suggest you open 1C ( even if it was a 3 card suit ), because there is no way that it is ever likely to be doubled for penalties...and then left in.
As for your partner using the mini notrump, I bet you a king's ransom he only opens the bidding where the circumstances are right : green against red, honours in his longest suits, and possibly holding a 5 card suit other than spades. Even if he gets doubled, I dare say he has a few wriggle options available, and should he end up going off 4 for minus 800, the net damage might only be minus 180......with the opponents having a near certain game contract on their way.
So please remember this : you are not obliged to open 1NT 0n 12 HCPs if the hand is riddled with poor features and glaring weaknesses. You can also come to life if partner enters the bidding......or protect...... later on.
Yours wondering what the bridge world is coming too,
Rebecca Rood

Thursday, 22 April 2010

- Partner's antics makes Anne Cross
- Rosemary ( Johnson ) invited to spice up D team in the nick of thyme
- Grossman wins re-election onto committee by 144 votes
- Pope gives his blessings to committee's new proposals
- Robinson finds himself in a jam
- Jacobs finally gets a foot onto the Chamberlain ladder
- Sandy shores up the C team
- Club gets burgled : Littlewood calls in the copse
- " Is bridge a fair game ? " asks Partridge
- Woodman axes 3 more club competitions
- Barber caught out by scissors coup
- Fishy goings-on by opponents upset Pike
- Upstairs fire : Waterman and Hose to the rescue
- Fingerprints found on lead piping in the library : White is the prime suspect
- Seeing double : Ian Johns caught partnering Ian Johnson
- Foley and Camm shaft their opponents
- New bridgemates suit Taylor to a tee
- Ann Wall papers over the cracks
- Mystery deepens as to where Bernard Parkes his Porsche
( In many ways this is a quirky kind of thing any member can have fun with in their own bridge club newsletters.......if only to add a bit of light relief for those who like something completely different. )

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

One of the most common mental disorders, I'm forever treating bridge players for, is the Ganser Syndrome. In a nutshell, it is a dissociative disorder, previously classified as a factitious one. It is characterised by nonsensical or wrong answers to questions, as well as giving incorrect explanations. Other names given to this particular disorder include :
- nonsense syndrome
- balderdash syndrome
- syndrome of approximate answers
- 2+2=5 syndrome
- can-never-give-a straight-answer syndrome
- pseudodementia
- bridge players' psychosis
The last label originates from the fact that the syndrome is most prevalent in bridge clubs. Symptoms include a clouding of consciousness, confusion and extreme anxiety. Most victims, when flustered or panic-stricken, give approximate or incomplete answers to even the most simple questions, whether they are posed by opponents, partners or TDs. In some cases answers spurted out are a combination of contradictions, ambiguities and complete and utter nonsense. Ask them what is the point range of their Michael's overcall, and you might get the following answers: " 8 or 13 ....8 possibly up to 18 ", or " 8+ non vulnerable and 13+ vulnerable ", or " 8 + 13 making it up to 21 in total ".
But not only that, victims with this disorder will make absurd statements to rectify the verbal hole they have dug themselves in, or hide behind excuses such as memory loss, mental fatigue, lazy thinking and malingering. However, because they fully understand the questions asked, they appear to those asking the questions to give incorrect answers deliberately ! Not so......these poor unfortunate people are not pathological liars.....they are simply victims of an extreme dissociative disorder, which many colleagues of mine describe " as being in a hysterical twilight state ".
What causes players to answer " what is your 1 notrump range ? " with the answer " 2 possibly 3 " has more to do with getting flustered than going gaga. When these players feel they are being interogated, they immediately experience undue pressure and stress. This causes the ganser syndrome to lock in straightaway. Indeed, the symptoms are worse if sufferers believe that those posing the questions will be paying very close attention to what they are about to say. Once the panic-anxiety button has been pressed, the boundaries of approximations bend ever add to the verbal garbage that is inevitably spewed out by the bucket load. Ironically, the greater the pressure that is put upon them to give a correct or " corrected " answer, the greater the likelihood that the answer becomes ridiculously absurd.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

I have always liked the idea of creating fantasy bridge hands, which would always cause mayhem and amusement at the bridge tables. Dreaming up nightmare hands provides a safe release for my sadistic tendencies, where only fantasy figures are on the receiving end.
Well, 40 years ago when I first took up bridge I had the good fortune to pick up one of all time favourite bridge books " Playing With The Aces " by Ira Corn Jr. And just the other day when I dipped into it again, there on page 30 was Bobby Wolff's very own fantasy hand. The chapter was entitled " A Bridge Player's Nightmare ( The Wolff in Wolf's Clothing) " , and it is a story which provides a lesson to us all.
The contract was 6S with dummy (North) offering very little in the way of 943....Q7.....Q976....J854 opposite declarer's massive AQ108765.....A6....A.....AKQ.
In Wolff's dream he made N/S vulnerable, and the man himself was sitting East with a 2-6-5-0 distribution. He knew that a double for a club ruff would achieve very little. Declarer would have no choice after winning the return at trick 2 but to lay down the Ace of spades. This line of play would see the contract home when the West's stiff King falls underneath it. Next would come the queen of spades drawing the jack, two top clubs, a low spade to dummy's 9, and the losing heart going away on the jack of clubs.
Oh no, this story had to have a different ending. Defenders had to be smarter than that. And so in this fantasy hand West led the jack of hearts from J109, and when the queen was played from dummy, the crafty and wily Wolff played small !.........luring and enticing an unsuspecting declarer into a trap. He had fortuitously got into dummy and was now in a position to make a safety play in spades. From his point of view, the only way the contract could fail was if he found East with KJx of spades....and he failed to take the finesse.
So at trick 3, a trump appeared from dummy, and the Wolff played low......cunningly low....and the finesse of the queen lost to West's stiff king. Back came a club for the Wolff-man to ruff. Such joy. Such delight.
Indeed, for people wanting to improve their game, there is so much to learn from this story : defenders always need think ahead.....never rushing in at trick 1........having a real understanding of how declarer's mind will be working.......using cunning and guile to steer declarers away from a winning line of play ( into one which will fail )...... and even when contracts look unbeatable defenders must never give up ( nil desperandum )...... always looking to use deception and smokescreens to induce declarer errors.

Monday, 19 April 2010

THE TRULY BIZARRE WORLD OF BRIDGE...... ( Justify FullArticle by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
Let's get real here........until you entered the world of bridge never in a month of Sundays did you expect to see......
- big strapping men being reduced to tears
- well educated people thinking like dorks
- so much unabated back-stabbing
- post-match discussions becoming re-enactments of " The Spanish Inquisition "
- so many experts all sitting under the same roof
- people having been voted onto committees by popular approval becoming immediately unpopular
- grown men behaving like children
- vast fortunes being spent solely to achieve ranking promotions that mean diddly squat
- players away from the tables spending endless hours on the net reading bridge blogs
- such blatant examples of favouritism, prejudice and bias
- peoples' lives being taken over by nothing more than just a game
- people with such great minds becoming so petty-minded
- good honest folk resorting to cheating
- players being in complete self-denial that their hopeless scores are directly linked to their gross inabilities
- a simple overtrick becoming a matter of life and death
- players suffering week-in week-out, but still coming back for more
- clubs being secretly re-registered as " open access " asylums
- people suddenly discovering they do indeed have nasty bones inside their bodies
- all kinds of psychological and personality disorders manifesting themselves in great abundance
- quiet peace loving folk getting het up over nothing
- so much mental anguish ( and break-down ) as the price worth paying for the privilege to play
- the ridiculing of players' table misfortunes becoming every one's favourite occupation
- sane rational people turning into homicidal maniacs
- the most mediocre players running the teaching sessions
- long standing members being given sitting seats !
- players being hung, drawn and quartered for failing to count properly

Saturday, 17 April 2010

S.J. SIMON'S BOOK IS TOTALLY FLAWED...... (Says Howard Bigot-Johnson )
Most bridge players have either read, or heard about, S.J.Simon's great book " Why you lose at bridge ". Indeed, it is always revered and respected by all categories of bridge player.....and for many, it has become their bible.
However, poor old Simon completely lost the plot when he placed all on the blame " on you ". ( Hey, when I lose it is never down to me ! ) Did he not realise there are 5 other people, who have a direct say in your destiny at the tables : partner, two opponents, TD and God. Then, there is the rest of the field sitting in the same direction as yourself, who are always handed gifts by lackadaisical opponents left, right and sodding centre.
Anyway, it's about time me.... stepped forward to come clean with the brutal truth. So this is why I have decided to give you a brief insight into Howard Bigot-Johnson's Definitive And Comprehensive List Of Reasons Why You Lose At Bridge.
- Your partner is a complete duffer
- Your partner ( even if he/she is decent ) is never on the your wave length
- Your partner ( even if he/she is an expert ) is forever making clever bids which you, or anyone else, finds impossible to decipher
- Opponents have a jinx on you, never failing to do the right things
- Opponents who are smart enough to read all information trances you and your partner fall into
- Opponents who are cheating dogs
- TDs who have got in for you, being biased and twisted bastards
- Hands that don't suit your system bids
- Hands that have been rigged, which savagely expose the inadequacies of your system
- Fields who have conspired together to screw you up good and proper
- Sudden and unfortunate attacks of amnesia on either you or partner
- Temporary but devastating bouts of insanity on either you or partner
- Alien possession of your mind, hell-bent on having fun at your expense
- Your innate inability to count beyond seven
- God hates you
- The Devil is out to get you
- Lady Luck wants nothing to do with you
- You are tactically inept, and technically woeful
- You are prone to flights of fancy and/or walkabouts
- You have no idea about swinging, which is when 50% scores do no good at all !
- You have the concentration span of a gnat
- You are easily huffed and bluffed, a sucker who falls into every trap that has been set with you in mind
- You are incapable of learning from past mistakes
- Your tendency to " lose it ", when coolness and calmness is called for
- Your blithering timidity, and your yellow-bellied, spineless personality
- Your complete lack of table presence
- ( And finally ) Your complete lack of ability to play the game....even at a basic elementary level
All these points will be dealt with in great detail when I finally get round to writing my book entitled " Why you will never win at bridge, even if you carried on playing for a 1000 years ". The way things are going at the moment, it may have to be published in 20 separate ( 50,000 word ) volumes.

Friday, 16 April 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY..........................
  • Trick : ( alternative definition ) something you play on an unsuspecting partner or opponent
  • Rags : the current vogue of dress as adopted by male members, who are sadly strapped for cash
  • Round : the period of time ( usually 3 mins ) in which argumentative players can square up to each other and fight it out
  • Break : ( alternative definition ) what most players look forward to, so as to interupt the painful monotony of getting one bad board after another
  • Crack : bridge gossip and scandalous tittle-tattle about members' private lives
  • Bye : the last word said to players by their partners, who never want to play with them again
  • Butler : someone super rich sponsors bring along to top class tournaments, to clean their shoes and iron their clothes
  • Table talk : a discussion as to whether the item of furniture in question is robust enough to take the full weight of a player, who is about to be thrown down onto it by an irate partner or opponent

Thursday, 15 April 2010

KIBITZING............................. ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
As many of you well know, anyone who flocks to my table to do a bit of kibitzing is welcome. These spectators, who love to look over my shoulder, come for a variety of reasons. For them it's an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and the kibitzing entourage has now become a permanent feature of my game. The fact that kibitzers range from raw beginners to the highest level of world class players, shows that I provide great entertainment and pearls of wisdom for all.
Cynics have been quoted as describing their primary function " as making sarcastic comments about the playing ability of those involved in the game ". Moreover, they are people " who love to conduct conversations with whoever is the dummy, in order to distract the other players. Such people in my opinion are not kibitzers, but ignorant trouble-makers.
However, in the bizarre world of internet bridge kibitzers run into thousands, all hoping to see magic or mayhem at the table. They either sit back in admiration, or to rock forward in uncontrollabe laughter. Some might attempt to make unsolicited comments, but there are others, like bridge commentators and correspondents, who are looking for hands to write up about for others to apprepriate the abstract beauty of the game. Yet with so much potential to do harm, kibitzers have to adhere to certain rules....especially if they are there in person at the club watching duplicate bridge in action. These include :
- must ask for, and receive, permission to be a spectator before taking their seat
- must not speak to, or with, the players
- must not sit in such a position as to see more than one hand at a time
- must not call attention to irregularities, other than a board being placed incorrectly on the table
- must never comment on any aspect of the "play" unless specifically invited to do so
- must attempt to remain motionless as best they can
- must not display any reactions ( such as facial expressions ) to the bidding or play of a hand
- must not in any way disturb the players
- must seek advice from a TD if aware of an irregularity of fact, or law, on which rulings would have been deemed necessary
In essence, kibitzers should be seen and not heard, although I am more than happy for some of mine to ask questions, which will help them in their understanding of the game, or the reasons behind my choice of bids, and decisions in play. I also believe a kibitzer should have the right to draw attention to an irregularity that went unnoticed at the table, by asking the table if they wish to hear his/her concerns. Because let's face it, a baying crowd has often caused a football referee to consult with a linesman, as to whether or not an infringement occured behing his back.
I see no harm in keen observant kibitzers having rights of comment after the play of a hand, to match their duty of silence during the play of the hand. So long as the comments are complimentary, constructive, educational and/or beneficial in some way, and they are given in response to permission being asked for and received, I am more than happy to have them at my table.
BRIDGE BOOKS FOR AUSSIE MEN ONLY.................. ( As recommended by Pun )
  • Failing To Make Contracts Really Hurts..............Winston Payne
  • I Had A Great Session With Partner....................Rhoda Rigid
  • Using A Splinter With Menace........................... Pierce Hiskin
  • I Want To Play Bridge Day And Night.................Ann Moore
  • When I Talk To You, Partner..............................Luke Atmey
  • Why I'm Known In The Game As "The Man"........Ivor P. Ennis
  • When You Go On Walkabout, Partner.................Jerome Farr
  • This Game Requires Good Hands.......................Jack Straws
  • My Secret To Bridge Success..............................Eve S. Dropper
  • I Love Playing In Opulent Surroundings............Shanda Lear
It is not unusual to come across psychological disorders that affect people simultaneously, such as two people suddenly sharing the same delusional beliefs and ideas. To those looking on, it may appear as if symptoms are transmitted from one person to another in an instant, as if a highly contagious virus was at work. Mass hysteria is a classic example of a simultaneous impact of madness on extremely large congregations and/or crowds. However, in the quieter corners of club houses, a small number of bridge players will succumb to something known as folie a deux ( meaning " a madness shared by two " ). Originally listed as a rare psychiatric syndrome, it appears to be flourishing very well within this claustrophobic environment of card playing fanatics. The predominant symptoms which seem to be transmitted from one player to another are, of course, paranoia and psychosis. Indeed, there is no other game in the world that can disturb the mind in the way that bridge does. Moreover, the same symptoms can be shared by more than 2 players, leading onto conditions known as folie a trois, folie a quatre, folie a table, and even folie a plusieurs ( " madness of many " ).
Someone once said " there is a fine line between wanting to play bridge every day and mental illness ". However, this person clearly failed to make the connection, that by playing bridge every day madness would be the inevitable outcome. Without a doubt regular bridge players are seriously at risk to this particular, but rather disturbing, disorder. They will all experience delusional beliefs ( such as " I'm at expert at this game " ), as well as exhibiting personality changes and thought disorders. These symptoms, coupled with unusual and bizarre behaviour , become more acute as bridge turns into an obsession, which completely takes over their lives.
Two clients I have had on my books now for some time are Penelope and Percy Pantopod, both members of the Walnut Tree Allotment BC. Both now in their late 50's, they have been diagnosed with folie a deux, because whenever Bigot-Johnson sits at their table each one simultaneously believes they are now in the presence of " The Devil " himself . Delusions of persecution and imminent skulduggery become so real, the TD is called over before any action has even taken place. They once claimed ( in uncanny unison ) that when a finesse of a queen lost to Bigot's king, he had used his black magic powers to mysteriously switch this card from his partner's hand to his.
So in the inescapable conclusion is that bridge and madness go hand in hand.....that behaviour within bridge clubs can never be normal.........and where passion and competitiveness is in abundance, the risk of folie a plusiers becomes all too great.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

" THE REST ARE MINE " : STAKING YOUR CLAIM........ ( Article by Carp )
Duplicate bridge is a timed game : usually 7 minutes a board is allowed. To "claim" a hand or the remaining tricks does speed up play....but only when declarer's stated line of play meets with the opponents' approval. However, should the opponents disagree and challenge declarer's claim, then unfortunately play will be brought to a halt, as the TD is called over to give a ruling.
The TD will no doubt ask for the players' remaining cards to be tabled after hearing what declarer has to say about his stated line of play........and the order of cards to be played. Then the opponents will be given the opportunity to offer their objections as to why the claim is incorrect, or flawed in someway, either by virtue of declarer's omission or oversight. Sadly, claims tend to cause disputes and controversy in so many ways, some of which are outlined below:
- the claim is either careless or reckless, denying defenders tricks they were clearly entitled to
- the claim is dishonest in that declarer has deliberately set out to steal a trick he/she knew belonged to the opponents
- the claim doesn't clearly state a precise and detailed line of play, and therefore with so many possible scenarios ( some of which provide tricks for the defence ) too much is open to debate
- the claim outlines a line of play which (a) has clearly overlooked a crucial fact ( such as an outstanding trump ), or( b) has been made on a false premise
It's not surprising therefore that staking a claim can be fraught with danger whether it be a innocent misjudgement or miscalculation...or whether it is tainted with the suspicion of a " deliberate intent to deceive ". So to me the message is clear : if you have a tendency to claim, with a well-founded desire to speed up the play, please ensure your claim is
- honest, genuine and sound
- precise, clear and accurate in its explanation
- well judged, in that all possibilities of bad breaks, outstanding trumps, and/or other critical factors have been accounted for
- guaranteed to meet with your opponents' approval

Monday, 12 April 2010

  • My Team Love Taking On The Experts............Egor Beevers
  • He Can't Keep His Hands To Himself................Moll Ester
  • Bridge In The City...........................................Mel Bourne
  • If You Want A Game, Matey............................Stan N. Lyne
  • He's Partnering Her For The First Time...........Willie Shafter
  • Bridge Really Gets My Juices Flowing.............Libby Doe
  • What To Do After A Bad Night's Bridge............Jack Hoffman
  • I Take My Hat Off To You, Partner..................Esther Bonnet
  • Bridge Is Really Big Over Here........................Sidney R. Burr
  • She Knows How To Spike Opponents.............. Penny Traytor
WHAT BUGS ME MOST ARE INCORRECT CLAIMS.......... ( Article by Carp )
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of claiming. The beauty and benefit of genuine claims are that they speed up the play, and avoid the boring inevitability of playing out the cards, when there is only just one possible conclusion. But my oh my, how many times do we see players making claims that are not only reckless, ill-judged, incorrect and false, but also fraudulent. So allow me to divulge a few of my experiences, which might help explain where " my beef " is coming from.
A few months back, I happen to be kibitzing a team of 4 match, and I was sitting behind declarer's RHO. The contract was 6 hearts, and declarer by trick 7 had already conceded a spade trick to the opponents. In dummy, there was king of spades ( boss ), a small diamond and AKxx of clubs. In hand he held a small spade, Q109 of hearts and 2 small diamonds. Thinking he had pulled out all the hearts, he led a small spade to dummy and claimed, announcing his two diamond losers were going away on the two boss clubs. Not surprising his RHO challenged the claim, stating he still had a small trump, and he would be ruffing in on the second club to defeat the contract. Moreover, should declarer choose to over-ruff, he would still be 1 off since a diamond trick would have to be conceded instead. At this point, I felt obliged to point out to this particular individual that his counter-claim was incorrect, because he did have a second club ( which was buried in amongst his spade holding ). In other words, he was revoking on a counter claim which was disputing declarer's potentially dodgy claim......such is the bizarre world of bridge !
Again, as a kibitzer, I was sitting behind a declarer who was in 4S. Midway through the hand he claimed all the remaining tricks, bar one, to secure the contract. An analysis was given about the intended line of play, to which the opponents seemed happy to accept. I asked if I could make an observation to which they all agreed. I then pointed out that technically there was a line of defence possible ( involving a clever unblocking manoeuvre ) which could have defeated the contract.....and so a TD was called over. Quite sensibly, he allowed the score to stand, given the opponents admitted there would never had spotted this defence, and that they had in fact agreed with declarer's explanation. Nevertheless, it didn't alter the fact that the claim was incorrect.
But now, I must come onto an instance where skulduggery was at work. Sitting behind a declarer, who clearly had no conscience or scruples, I was surprised to see him attempt this blatant exhibition of coffee-housing with me in close attendance. He too was in 4S, but this was a doomed contract with only 9 tricks available. Realising his opponents were quite inexperienced, he attempted a rather unethical coup. At trick 8 he claimed the contract plus 1, knowng there was still an outstanding boss trump......and that the opponents would challenge the claim. By deliberately making a false claim, the plan of course was to acknowledge the opponent's counter-claim to score their trump trick, but in the process deflect them from seeing the other defensive trick, which they had in their locker. This ruse would have worked, until I made an observation that even the revised claim of 4S was still incorrect. So yet again time was lost, when a TD was called over to sort out the problem.
Therefore, it is my contention that making incorrect claims causes grief all round. They compromise kibitzers, who some stronly believe should remain silent even after the play of a hand......they embarrass declarers......they upset opponents.....and they cause unnecessary and difficult work for TDs. Therefore in my next article, I intend to lay down some very firm rules about when and how claims should be made.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

( This civil action brought before the High Court, where the plaintiffs were seeking damages for libel, following an article written by Bigot-Johnson describing their club " as a bizarre and alien world, full of misfits, weirdos and strange beings ". Bigot of course elected to defend himself, and this short extract from the transcript of the trial tells the story of what happened. )
Counsel ( for the plaintiffs ) : Do you deny making such a derogatory statement ?
B-J : No....
Counsel : Are you aware that your perception of bridge clubs, and that the Walnut Tree club in particular, as bizarre and alien worlds is simply down to the fact that you....yes you.....have a derealization disorder.
B-J : That's new to me....
Counsel : Well, allow me to call up as an expert witness, Dr. John , who will explain all.
Dr. J : Yes, derealization is the alteration in the perception, or experience, of a world that has now become strange or unreal to anyone, who has this disorder or syndrome. The detachment of realization can be described as an " immaterial substance that separates a person.... like Bigot..... from the physical world he occupies ". He therefore sees his bridge club surroundings through a sensory fog, a clouded pane of glass, or a veil.
Counsel : Interesting....please continue....
Dr. J : Bigot, clearly has this disorder, because despite the degree of familiarity with the club's premises, he finds himself blocking out any identification he has with his surroundings. He is unable to tap into the sensory and psychological data he has stored in his memory about the place, based on his past visits and experiences. This blocking contributes to the difference between his perception of the bridge world he finds himself in ( under derealization )......and what his perception would be in the absence of derealization. Ironically, the more familiar a place is to him, the more unfamiliar it seems, when symptoms of this disorder are particularly acute.
Counsel : So what you are saying is that Bigot is " crackers " , and the comments he made in that article were the rantings of a mentally ill person.....lacking any validity or truth whatsoever.
Dr. J : Not necessarily so....your perception of the Walnut Tree Allotment BC ....and mine... along with many others, would paint a reality picture that sees the club as a typical place, where normal decent folk go to play a friendly game of cards. Bigot , on the other hand, because of his condition, sees the club.... in his reality..... as a bizarre world. From his perception he is telling the truth, but of course everyone else will take his statements to be careless or wicked lies.
B-J : Whoa there.....just hold on a minute.....allow me to have my say. Why, just because my view of reality is different from the majority's that doesn't mean to say I'm the one with the derealization disorder. So you just tell me Dr. Up-your-own-arse it not the case that you have on your books hundreds of deranged clients who are all bridge players...
Dr. J : ...Yes...
B-J : All of them racked with abnormal psychological, psychiatric, neurological, personality and behavioural disorders....and this situation is, in your very own words, " the tip of the iceberg " .
Dr. J : Yes
B-J : And is the incidence of afflictions found within the bridge playing population so high, it would be correct to describe the situation as bizarre ?
Dr. J : Yes
B-J : And it is also true that people who play bridge ....and get so wound up by even the smallest set backs ......behave in a weird, inhuman way.
Dr. J : Yes....that is a valid point of view.
B-J : not the case that bridge players display alien qualities....when they transform themselves into wild savage animals......who behave in the most appalling and beastly way ?
Dr. J: Yes, I am familiar with the research undertaken on lycanthropy......
B-J : So whose reality is closest to the truth ?
Dr. J : Yours.... I guess
Judge : Hell, I'm agreeing with the Bigot man also. This bridge world you all live in is indeed on another planet. I find for the defendant......and the plaintiffs are to pick up all the costs.
B-J : Well, what a result........bugger me
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG..................................
Dear Rebecca,
My partner is driving me much so I'm ready to jack in the game. Why just the other day I picked up the fiollowing hand : x....J98.....xx.......AKQ109xx. I naturally opened 1C to which my partner responded 1H. West chirped in with 1S, and so I rebid 2C. Next bid from partner was 2D.....and in a vain attempt to get the message across to this dumbbell about my really good club holding, I persevered with 3C. Did she pass ? Did she came next was the 3NT bid, which I reluctantly left in. So with her only having a single stop in spades and a void in clubs, the contract was a complete disaster. It went off that many I wanted to die there and then at the table.
Now just how bad was that bid of hers ?
Yours wanting much reassurance and sympathy, Egbert Enderby
Dear Egbert,
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.......I have never come across a more hopeless pair of bidders in my life. Yes, without doubt her 3NT was a rank bad call, but the biggest crime committed at the table was your 3C !! This bid demonstrates to me that you really do need to jack in the game.....because you have no bloody idea what is means to support partner, informing her about the established 5-3 heart fit .
You should have shown your partner that you had some hearts ( damn good ones in fact ) by simply bidding 2H, instead of that damn awful 3C. Now she is in an excellent position to find 4H, which no doubt was a lay down. Since there would be no problem getting across to your hand ( heart or spade ruff ), she would have used your lovely clubs to lob away some of her losers.
Yours unsympathetically, Rood

Friday, 9 April 2010

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES..........................
BOANTHROPY : This rare and unusual disorder can be seen in people, who adopt the belief that they are cattle. Indeed, bridge players are highly susceptible to developing this condition : a situation which has sadly gone on undetected for years.
Originally diagnosed by early Christians over 2000 years ago, the first known case involved the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. History tell us " he was driven away from his people, only to eat grass like a cow and behave like a wild beast " ( Daniel 4:33 ). However, in today's world it is bridge players, not Kings, who find themselves believing that they are cattle. This is purely the consequence of hearing constant bovine references made about them, by other players, which reinforces again and again their delusional beliefs. Comments such as :
- You silly old moo
- So you like big fields ?
- Don't give me any of your bull-shit
- Is there an udder way of making the contract
- You heard what.......?
- You're a bull..y
- What's your beef, then ?
- Doing that to him is like flashing a red rag to a bull
- You're teetering again
- You'll be waiting till the cows come home
- You're like a bull in a china shop
- Holy cow
- Just take the bull by the horns
- She's in a good moo...d
- Milk it for all it's worth
- He's always doing things on the hoof
So it's of no surprise when players , who are subjected to these remarks, start to believe that they are in fact a member of the bovine family. However, as treatments go there are none, but " putting them out to grass " is often a suggestion that really goes down well with all these sufferers........such is their herd mentality.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

WHY DO BRIDGE PLAYERS CHEAT.......................... ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
A few months back, in November 2009, Luise Lee wrote an interesting article, which attempted to explain why some players resorted to cheating. She listed 6 possible answers which covered the following motives: the passionate desire to win, the notion that forbidden fruit tastes best, the fear of losing, greed, rebellious tendencies, and the lack of integrity.
Anyway, having already done a series of articles on the various categories and forms of cheating, I too want to address the issue as to why players choose to cheat at bridge. So with the help of my learned colleague, Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi, I have probed a little deeper into this interesting and fascinating topic.
In many instances, players don't know ,or don't realize, they are cheating. Their actions are born out of ignorance, or lack of a real understanding of the ethical standards of the game, the concepts of fair play and sportsmanship. Their cheating tends to be of the "soft" category, incidents in which opponents, with a similar level of ignorance, completely miss or fail to recognise.
But then we come onto that group of players whose arrogance beggars belief. They see themselves as always operating within the rules of the game, but not necessarily within the spirit of the game. They never perceive their actions as "cheating" because according to them they are doing nothing wrong. This reflects in essence a form of selective blindness, rather than straightforward ignorance. In some instances their arrogance stretches to a stubbornly held view that they are within their rights to capitalise on unsolicited gifts of " free information " , that fortuitously comes their way. Since they can not avoid seeing cards foolishly exposed by their opponents, or shut out the loud comments made about hands on other tables, the accuse those responsible for such aberrations as the wrongdoers..............refusing to acknowledge that by acting upon such unsolicited information, they too are in the wrong. " If players are that stupid to give away such information, then so be it " is often a statement they use to justify their good fortune.
In rare cases, the motive for some players to do a lot of peeking stems from an innate compulsion and desire to behave in such a way. It's as though the victims of this "disorder" are possessed by some uncontrollable habit or urge to be nosey. Perhaps born out of a natural instinct to be curious, observant, or mischievous, their cheating behaviour is not so much about a deliberate intent to cheat, but a weakness on their part to repress this despicable character trait.
Laziness can also be a strong motive in that some players see cheating as the easy way to win. No long arduous sessions working out a perfect bidding and signalling systems with partner. No hard thinking is required, even in the demanding arenas of top class tournaments, when simple but sophisticated coded messages can be communicated across the table in an effortless way.
Boredom and revenge provide two other motives, which lead many players to cheat. Certainly, cheating can offer a kind of thrill that is irresistible to some. Doing something that is naughty, in direct defiance of the rules, often generates excitement, not to mention the feel good factor which is experienced when " having got away with it ". Even the fear of getting caught can create a real buzz for these players. However, just like computer hackers. many players revel in the idea of beating "the system ", with all its detection and security measures. As for gaining revenge, this can be just as satisfying, because cheating on adversaries seems justified by the old adage : " All is fair in love and war ". For them, the rules of bridge, which preach morality and ethical standards, become insignificant. The imperative of getting their own back on other players takes priority, and in such circumstances these rules must be suspended.
And now we come onto the classic motive of them all. If the game is full of cheats, then one has to balance things up. Their arguments include " evening up the odds ", " if you can't beat them then join them ", or " I'm just part of the rat race ". For them, might is right. Moreover, it makes both common and religious sense to do unto others what they do unto go with the flow......and just simply follow suit.
Yet my colleague and I maintain the view that society, and its institutions, have played a significant part in all this. Clearly, the culture of our times preaches the doctrine of " winning at all costs ", one of which includes the cost cheating. Players in every sport are taught that " winning isn't everything, it's the only thing ". This mantra convinces them that cheating is a risk worth taking if one wants to be a winner. Moreover, ruling bodies in bridge don't help the situation, by creating a system where status and top rankings can be bought. To those looking on, they see sponsors paying professionals to give them a helping hand. So what's the difference if less well off players get a helping hand by means of a tiny little peek at the opponents' cards ?
Yes, some cheating only occurs as something that is done after cold calculation. Sometimes it is a spontaneous impulse to succumb to an irresistible temptation. Others cheat because they are heavily swayed by distorted values of right and wrong, peer pressure, mood, and false images of themselves. But sometimes players cheat, claiming the actions were justified by a genuine sense of fairness. Paradoxically, one of the most powerful motives for cheating, according to research scholars who have been studying decision-making, is the desire for fairness. So for these players " two wrongs do make a right ". Indeed, they believe it is correct to play to their own set of rules, rather than abide by the inadequate ones imposed upon them..... which fail to address the unfairness that exists within the game .
So from our research, one conclusion stands out above all others : one-upmanship and gamesmanship have clearly taken over from sportsmanship.
NIGHTMARE BRIDGE... ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
For many players, bridge can be a very cruel game....the ultimate horror show. Why just the other day I had a distraught and deeply troubled Bigot-Johnson coming up to me with this horrendous story. As captain he was seriously involved in a crucial Intercities relegation-battle match against Wakefield BC, when the following hand turned up in the last set. North was dealt AQJxxx....KQx...xx...QJ, while South held a 5 point hand packed with intermediates: 109....J10x......109xx....A1098.
West meanwhile held : Kx....xx....AKQJxxx....xx opposite East's xxx...Axxxx...(void)...Kxxxx
On table 1, Wakefield West elected to open the bidding with a gambling 3NT despite having an outside King. This was doubled by Bigot's partner ( surely 3S was better ) and three quick passes followed. Such despair as the queen of spades was led out. Nine tricks were eagerly taken by West (1S,7D,1H), inflicting a devastating score of minus 750 to set the rot in.
On table 2, the same bidding sequence occurred, but this time Wakefield were defending. Somehow a visionary North kicked off with the queen of clubs, which was ducked by dummy. The jack of clubs followed, ducked by dummy again, only to be cleverly overtaken by South with the Ace. He then switched to the 10 of spades, which now resulted in six spade winners being cashed. A heart and a club were then conceded to East, only for N/S to harvest 3 more tricks. Minus 1700 for 7 off doubled was the stuff nightmares are made of.
On table 4, Bigot's other E/W pair elected to open 1D, with Wakefield North overcalling a strong 1NT. East felt obliged to pass, but South who rather liked his very meaty 5 raised to 2NT . This was doubled by West, so North bid 3S, only for South to convert to 3NT. This received another heftier double from West, which was passed out. However, it was West who was about to pass out next he waited in vain for East to lead a diamond! So yet again, the same 11 trick haul went to a Wakefield pair, adding another devastating -950 on Bigot's already horrendous looking team score-sheet.
On table 3, the other Wakefield West also opened 1D, which North doubled hoping to show his spade suit later. East passed, and South bid 1NT. West persevered with 2D allowing North to bid 2S. East passed again and South, believing his four to the 109 in diamonds might offer a possible stop in that suit, rebid 2NT. This was reluctantly raised to 3 by North. West carefully declined not to double this doomed contract for fear of a retreat to a makeable 4S.....and so E/W quietly harvested the first 8 tricks courtesy of 7 diamonds and the Ace of hearts. This minus 400 score boosted the aggregate score on this one horror board to -3800.
As it turned out this one nightmare board simply compounded the 20-o thrashing Bigot's rag bag outfit deserved, but for the man himself it was all too much to bear. First off, he sacked all 7 members from the team before throwing in the towel as captain. This he said he would enable him to concentrate on writing bridge between ( of course ) the clandestine stalking of Percy Pantopod.

Monday, 5 April 2010

  • I Try To Be Like Rixi Markus............................Jemima Well
  • What Can Be More Rewarding Than Bridge ?.....Robin Banks
  • She Likes The Bidding Box On Her Left.............Molly Dooker
  • Boy, Do I Carry My Partner..............................Rick Shaw
  • Bridge For Dandified Young Men.......................Willie Boys
  • Spare Me, Partner, Spare Me...........................Nicole Anne Dyme
  • Rubber Bridge : Doubling Up The Stakes...........Martin Gale
  • I See Opponents As Little Sheep......................Ann Mia Wolf
  • How To Bleed Sponsors Dry.............................Kitty Hopper
  • My Partner Uses Me As Her Chaperone............Daisy Picker
  • My Problem Is I Never Shut Up.........................Rab Beeton
  • IF I Bid Badly, Does That Make Me A Fool ?.....Jack Hass

Sunday, 4 April 2010

SOME PLAYERS HAVE NO CARD SENSE AT ALL........... ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
The other day I came across two defenders who displayed no card sense whatsoever. Poor West was dealt a yarborough, but it was his defeatist attitude, coupled with his complete lack of bridge nous, that made him the epitome of a dork. North/South had arrived in a 6NT contract, and the dork was on lead. When dummy came down he saw: A.....AQxx......KQ10xx.......Kxx. So his arbitrary lead of a diamond was a disaster, because a lead in either major would have surely defeated the contract, with declarer holding : QJxx...Jx...Jx...AQJxx.
Declarer took the trick with the jack and played on diamonds until East's Ace was forced out. A spade return seem eminently sensible, but declarer....who by now was a firm believer in miracles ......took the trick in dummy, and rattled off two more diamonds and 4 clubs. At this point, he had arrived at this 3 card ending...... with dummy holding the AQx of hearts, opposite his spade queen, small singleton heart and a fifth winning club.
Wazzock West of course had lost complete interest in the proceedings, and his willy nilly discarding of useless hearts, left his squirming partner trying to hold on to the king of spades, and his Kx of hearts. On the play of the last club, East threw away his spade K in abject despair, praying that dork held the queen. No such luck.....contract made.
The witless West should have reasoned that for the contract to fail, his partner needed to hold both kings....but there was a real danger of him being squeezed in the minors. Therefore, it was necessary for him to help his partner out, by appearing to have ( and protect ) the heart king . Mind you, his partner must also reason that on the run of the diamonds and clubs he was going to be in real trouble, and must therefore chuck his hearts away like a man who doesn't hold the king. Bearing the King had to be done of course without a flicker of emotion. This joint effort to create a smoke screen would ,if nothing else, put declarer on the spot to demonstrate his card sense..........and make an intuitive guess.
And the moral of this story ? Well, as a defender with sod all to defend with, it is of paramount importance that you still retain an interest in what is going on.....looking ahead firstly to create difficulties for declarer. Secondly, to envisage what difficulties partner might encounter, and be there to help him out. Never hand things on a plate to your opponents. Force them to make guesses, which on average will be wrong 50% of the time. Create a few smoke screens, and where it can't harm your partner attempt to misinform or deceive opponents. In other words use a bit of card sense.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

WHAT IS " CARD SENSE " ?........................... ( Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi investigates )
Top class players often attribute their success to their " card sense ". Indeed, these players may well possess an innate organic ability to understand the game of bridge and all its facets. But what does card sense really mean ?
Some commentators define it as " an acute awareness of the totality of what is going on ". Others include within the definition the notion that a player must have " a fantastic sense of seeing how the play of a hand will develop, immediately after the opening lead " .
It has also been suggested that to be blessed with card sense is to be blessed with a " mysterious gift ", which enables the recipient to possess " an intuitive knowledge of the cards, who holds what, and how to play the hand to his/her best advantage" . Cynics, however, take the jaundiced view that card sense is nothing more than intelligent guesswork, and good old fashioned common sense. But what is for certain, it is something far far more than intelligence, good memory, and an ability to do the technically right thing.
Many will argue that card sense enables a player " to see through the backs of cards " . It is without doubt an ability to read the game, and your opponents. For instance, a declarer with card sense will not ask the question why the opponents made opening lead say in diamonds , but what the reasons might be for not leading a card from one of the other three suits ? Another aspect of this gift involves the player's ability to " see through the smoke " , as well as being able to throw up deceptive play smoke screens of their own.
Some observers have argued, quite strongly, that card sense involves seeing things that other players can't ......having the ability to problem solve in both logical and abstract way. Indeed, psychologists have gone as far as attributing card sense " to spatial intelligence, where you can put abstract things in your mind, and solve problems mentally ". For instance, what number can you see hidden in the 3 cards shown face up on the table: 5H, 5S and 6D from left to right. The answer of course of 10 ! Those that see the coded message, which is not directly obvious, suggests this gift must include insight and lateral thinking skills.
However, if one attempts to explore the other components of card sense , the suggestion that it involves " a sixth sense " may well have some validity. This particular concept seems to encompass the elements known as " table presence " and " a real feel for the game ". This may be likened to a natural instinct to do the right thing at the right time : an ability to exercise superb judgement, knowing what to do in every situation to maximise one's chances of gaining the optimum result. Perhaps, it is also the ability to " avoid getting into trouble ", as well as " getting out of trouble ". In my humble view, it involves the ability to sense danger, and to predict and plan for the problems that could possibly lie ahead. Having card sense is in effect the gift of having your own crystal ball.
One school of thought claims that card sense embodies a form of judgement, which involves knowing when to follow the basic teachings and/or rules, as well as knowing when it is necessary to go against established practice. The great Barry Crane offered a very interesting and profound observation, when he said the essence of this gift involves a little man who sits on your shoulder. And when he says " Don't do that ", you say to yourself " Well, wait a minute, that's the right way to play " . And he says, " Yeah, but you don't wanna play that way ". That instinct is card sense.......something you're born with. The ability to do the right thing at the wrong time, or doing the wrong thing at the right time.
So is this gift inherited, or is it an acquired wisdom based on years of experience of playing in top class fields ? Probably, the answer is neither, but a combination of both. How much faith you attach to any of the definitions covered above may be the same as you would attach to W. C. Fields' definition of " horse sense "..............this being of course that " quality that keeps horses from betting on people ". But what I can say for certain is that........... only the very best bridge players in the world have the credentials to claim possession of this truly mystical talent.