Sunday, 30 May 2010

REBECCA ROOD'S MAIBAG.............................
Dear Rebecca, The majority of members in my local bridge club are well over 60, and I'm probably one of the oldest. My results in recent years have been consistently mediocre, never reaching 50%. Everyone keeps telling me to quit....and I'm fast running out of players who are willing to partner me.
I need your advice as to whether or not I'm over the hill, and should call it a day.
Yours, Wilma Hart-Takett
Dear Wilma,
Everyone needs to know when they have reached their sell-by date, and when of course their time as competent bridge player has passed them by. That moment is not always easy to recognise. Pun, God bless him, has done a couple of articles on this very subject of " You know when you are over the hill ", which are well worth checking out. But hey, I'm also willing to have a crack at it .
So should any of the these observations ring a bell, then you will have your answer for sure.
Yes Wilma, you know you are over the hill when.........
- the only jogging you do concerns your memory of what's on your system card
- " getting lucky " at bridge simply means avoiding a bottom
- doctors are telling you to slow down, but TDs are ordering you to speed up
- having picked up a really exciting hand, your pace-maker switches on the club's TV
- you find yourself asking a novice partner on where you went wrong as declarer
- a young female partner tells you she's got pierced....and you look straight at her ears
- your partner complains about your new crocodile skin shoes, when in fact you sitting there in bare feet
- dreams of getting to the top table involve a cruise liner and a very accommodating captain
- going bra-less to the club at least enables you to pull out all the wrinkles in your face
Yours, hoping these observations might provide you an answer, Rebecca
With most of the original players still recovering from their ordeal in Boston hospital, the USA selectors decided to put out a much stronger team this time. Well, something had to be done to repair their international reputation, and restore national pride.
TV networks had arrived from all over America to televise live the whole match, clearly expecting something sensational to happen. How right they were. In the early stages, however, the match was a cagey nip and tuck affair, but yet again it was the visitors who took the initiative, by making that first bold thrust to open up a sizeable gap. And the man responsible for this was none other than Freddie " Flick-knife " Forbes. He was sharp....razor sharp......seemingly a cut or two above the rest. He had all the attributes of a man at the top of his game: a cutting-edge bidding system, clinical precision in both thought and deed, and an ability to scythe down opponents with very pointed and barbed comments.
Even when he made a few stabs at bidding dodgy-looking slams on wafer thin values, he always managed to pull them off. By dominating the bidding , he was hell bent on securing a huge slice of the declarer play. But what shocked the audience most was his supreme skill at severing the communication between his opponents. Ironically, whenever a USA player overbid his hand, he inevitably fell victim to particularly nasty breaks and trump splits.
However, one curious feature of the match was that every time USA players went to visit the toilet, the weak-bladdered Billy " Back-stabber " Bowles often went with them. Then, after returning to their tables, looking both flushed and fearful, these same American players then proceeded to play like rabbits, as though they had simply gone to pieces.
So as the match wore on, the USA team was systematically being torn to shreds. Well before the finish confidence, belief and life itself had slowly, but surely, drained away from each of the players. For the viewing American public it was too much to bear.....a bleeding shame in fact.
The moment victory for The Boys was announced, the odds on them going through the tour undefeated were dramatically slashed. Bigot-Johnson of course was ecstatic, and as he went up to collect the memorial trophy he whispered across to one reporter : " I'll let you into a little secret.....Freddie, you know, is a disciple of the greatest bridge book ever written......the rarely known, but highly rated, How to carve up the opposition by Butch's a killer. "

Friday, 28 May 2010

One of the great things about bridge is the comedy element that exists within the overall experience we have all encountered. The larger-than-life characters, humorous banter, the comic mishaps in both the bidding and the play, the crazy situations that take everyone by surprise, the pantomime, and the random absurdities...... all help to make great memories, not to mention superb material for highly entertaining stories for years to come.
Everyone needs to look back at even their bad days at the tables, when nothing seemed to be going right, and still be able to raise a smile about what took place. We all need to laugh at ourselves from time to time, and see the funny side of things. This book more than any other will bring a smile to your face in times of such need. Jude Goodwin's cartoons, which comically depict both characters and situations we are all so familiar with, enables the book to become a mirror of your bridge life. Not only will you recognise yourself, but also all the people you have partnered, and encountered in the past. The illustrations are wonderful, with all the emotions, feelings, and inner thoughts of the characters cleverly revealed with just a subtle stroke and squiggle of the pen. The dialogue is frighteningly real but extremely revealing. The cartoons tell us all about our own failings and shortcomings, alongside those we so often associate with others.
I love this book immensely, because I appreciate what the author has skillfully observed, and I fully understand with what she is trying to say about how truly " bizarre " the world of bridge really is.
  • The Importance Of Getting Off To A Good Start...........Serge A. Hedd
  • How To Unsettle Your Opponents...............................Callum Naims
  • Goosestepping Your Way To Success.......................Jack Boot
  • Catching Up Lost Ground..........................................Peg Hingback
  • If Partner Misbehaves, Then Whip Him.......................Tilly Turtz
  • How To Dig Out Results............................................Ava Gardner
  • Go To Bridge Schools With Top Class Teachers.........Ed Masters
  • Reign Supreme In Your Bridge Club...........................Madge Jesty
  • Improve Your Bridge With a Little Craft.......................Kat A. Moran
  • Avoid Those Bridge Howlers......................................Jack Kells
CAN ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES REALLY WORK ? ....... ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
For any zero tolerance policy to work effectively, each club must strive to enforce it to the letter....... at all times without fail. This will avoid any possibility of allegations of favouritism and/or prejudice.
Firstly, the policy must be applied universally, so that every member knows about it, and every transgression is acted upon and dealt with accordingly.
Moreover, every offender must be dealt with in the same firm but fair way, with appropriate sanctions being applied.
Sanctions need to be seen as effective, if the deterrent objective of the policy is to be achieved. This may well mean imposing temporary or even permanent bans on members, guilty of serious or repeated minor offences.
If bridge clubs continue to be the sought after habitats of awkward, cantankerous, anti-social, distinctly unpleasant people, then the time has come to cast them out. No matter who these people are, and what status, rank, and position they hold in the club.......if they ruin the enjoyment of others, then they must face the music ( or the guillotine ) .

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Boston was the venue for the first of the scheduled matches arranged for this formidable touring team, against the best players currently topping the USA rankings. The vu-graph spectators, who were fortunate enough to get tickets to attend the big event, were then to witness something they would never forget. The atmosphere in the hall was intense....almost suffocating.......with so many reputations at stake. Unwisely, for the American players, they had decided to stick out their necks by predicting an easy victory.
But it was in the first session, when the The Bigot Boys from England quickly established a real stranglehold on the match ( and their opponents ). This lead was never to be seriously challenged, enabling the visitors to canter home as easy winners. Seemingly much more equipped at getting to grips but some wild and freaky hands, it was Ronnie " Mad Dog " Maddox, who was the star of the show. He was really on fire, going full throttle to bid and make every game and slam. All the members of USA team choked, whenever pressure put on them by the aggressive tactics adopted The Boys.
Time and time again the Americans ran out of breath, as they tried to recover from those early set backs. Now they had to come to terms with the folly of sticking out their necks at the start, with predictions which clearly were the equivalent of waving red rags to savage bulls. Moreover, this result would now dent the national pride quite considerably, but for the defeated players it had been an even more painful experience. Most of them were left limp and lifeless, struggling to say even a word about the terrible ordeal they had just gone through.
And as for Bigot.....well, he was a very happy man.....immensely proud for putting together a team of genuine (w)ringers, who demon-strated their expertise at successfully executing all types of excrutiating squeezes throughout the whole match.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

INADVERTENT DESIGNATIONS .............................. ( Article by Carp )
Some rules in bridge cause more grief than game really needs. In fact, some rules are both absurd and illogical. And one rule in point relates to a situation where declarer calls for a card from dummy, only to change his/her mind immediately after. The correction of an inadvertently named or designated card is covered by the following rule : " a player may, without penalty, change an inadvertent designation if he/she does so without pause for thought ". A remarkably forgiving rule in my opinion.
But how easy is this rule to implement one may ask ? The card initially called for ( and possibly played ) might be the one declarer intended to play at that " moment in time ", only to be followed by an immediate realisation that a severe mental aberration has taken place...........clearly indicating that the card called for was an act of insanity, based on a moment of madness.
A glance at the dictionary tells us that inadvertent means " not intended " ......" accidental ", and accident embraces the notion of " mishap ". In the realms of bridge play, an unintentional call suggests a sudden split-second malfunction of the thought process, an inexplicable mind switch off, which appears to be accidental.....perhaps triggered by an distracting event beyond declarer's control.
And as for the meaning of the phrase " without pause " well this really is open for debate. If one was to refer to the Thesaurus, several definitions quickly come to view : " instantaneously, at lightning speed, in the same breath, in a trice, quick as a flash, instinctively, before one can say Jack flash, in a twinkling, within a second, immediately after, straightaway, straight after, almost simultaneously ". So yes, even within these terms differences and distinctions exist. So which one does define without pause correctly ?
So interpreting this rule requires careful scrutiny and interpretation of its words, in order to obtain a clear definition of its true meaning and appropriate application. It is not there to protect declarers who have lost the plot, focus or concentration as a result of going walkabout, mental laziness, falling asleep. Or declarers, who are victims of their own impatience and impetuosity, where they so often get completely ahead of themselves. It is there to protect declarers who become the victims of mishaps, beyond their control, that unfortunately can cause such mental aberrations.
So let's look at a typical scenario where declarer plays his queen towards his AJ10 holding in dummy, expecting on the bidding for his RHO to have the king. Already in his mind, he intends to call for the 10 to be played. However, just as his LHO produces the king, declarer is already blurting out a call " play the 10 "....only for him to stop in his tracks.....and splutter out a reflex response " Oh the Ace ! " Well, applying the rule here is a simple task. Was the call inadvertent given his initial view as to the location of the king ? Had the change in instruction been made in the same breath ? Surely, there has to be two strong presumptions in resolving these situations. Firstly, that the card called for was the one intended, and secondly, that if the instruction was completed then it must stand. Incorrect analysis and impetuosity are factors within declarer's control, and nothing should be done to allow him to escape from the consequences of his mistakes.
Declarers will of course come up with all sorts of excuses to explain their aberrations, hoping for some reprieve from either the opponents or the TD:
- " I thought I had called for the Ace......? "
- " I meant to call for the Ace.....but noise from elsewhere distracted me "
- " I'm on medication...that cause weird neurological side-effects "
- " I was a trick ahead of myself.....I wanted to play the 10 after the Ace "
- " I had a senior moment ...."
- " When the King came down, it took me by complete surprise....I got so flustered I called for the wrong card "
I would dismiss them all. In most cases declarers have just simply had a lapse in concentration, failing to spot what card the opponent has been played, or failing to realise that an immediate change of plan was called for. Reckless impetuosity and autopilot responses are not examples of inadvertent thinking.
So finally,I want to review the hand that Judy Kay-Wolff wrote about in her excellent May 19th article, where declarer had an easy 6C slam to wrap up by simply continuing to pull trumps at trick 4. But in the story declarer called for another suit to be played ( spades instead of clubs ) allowing the defence to seize the trick with the King, and secure a club ruff in hearts at trick 5. How declarer managed to get a reprieve on this board to set the score back to 6C making truly makes the world of bridge incredibly bizarre.....not to mention unjust. Firstly, declarer had not been distracted by anything outside or beyond his/her control. The call for a low spade had been fully given, and implemented. This was nothing more than a complete lapse of concentration. The realisation afterwards that ( a) East had won the trick , and (b) the plan to extract the remaining trumps in clubs had somehow gone astray ......came a split second later, when " oh shit " vocalised the next thought that came to mind. The implied message that this carried ( please let me change my mind and play a club instead ) was not made in the same breath......since there was clear evidence of a momentary pause. No wonder debate raged on about the ludicrous ruling that was given by the appeal panel. No wonder Judy has brought this whole issue back into the bloggers' debating forum.
Bridge should take a lesson from the rules of chess: should you just merely touch a piece, you are obliged to play it. Therefore if the spirit of this rule is applied to bridge, then whatever card you called for....or was clearly on the verge of calling for..... this is card which must now be played. It is therefore imperative for all declarers to watch and wait to see what cards the opposition have played FIRST, before deciding on what cards they want to play after. How simple is that.

Monday, 24 May 2010

QUOTES OF THE YEAR................ ( As reported by Pun )
" What issue is it ,which you are desperate for the committee to address ? "
" I would very much like it if there could be a standing arrangement for me to have a sitting seat. Indeed, it's my understanding that one has to take a stand to sit, and because I'm an upstanding member of this club, I don't want anyone with a seat on the committe standing against me over this sitting matter. "
" If over-bidding is your main problem, what do you intend to do about it ?"
" I need to stop for a start.....or to put it another way.....I need for a start to stop ?
On board 22 everyone wanted to pass the buck by passing. So when the player in the pass out seat passed out ( as he fumbled for a pass card ), no one knew what to do. Minutes passed by before the problem was passed onto a TD, who ruled the board could not be scored as a " passed out " hand. His reasoning was that " the ending of the auction had never to come to pass, because the player in the pass out seat passed out before getting round to putting his pass card on the table. " However, when the player who passed out before passing recovered, he quitely remarked " will someone run pass me what the hell has been going on ? "

( In the trial of the century, Bigot-Johnson was up before an Old Bailey judge, but this time on a charge of high treason. An excerpt from the trial's transcript appears below. )
Judge : Bigot you stand accused of high treason....
B-J : What.....!!!
Judge : Yes...high treason as a result of your heinous and horrendous crimes against The Queen.
B-J : You're off your head......
Judge : Off with yours.... might be a more appropriate observation.
B-J : Good grief.....
Judge : Prosecutor, please outline the specific charges....
Prosecutor : Indeed, I will your honour....with pleasure......So Bigot was it not the case.... that when your partner held Qxx in a suit, you led the jack from Jx doubleton ? This enabled declarer to take the trick in dummy with the king, only to finesse your partner's queen on the way back through his Ace-10. In other words you completely murdered The Queen, and in doing so lost a valuable trick in defence.
B-J : Yes....that was a mistake.....but I was having a bad day...
Judge : Not as bad as this day is going to be.....
Pros : And did you not, Bigot, when partner was holding Qx, go up with the Ace at the first time of asking...the moment declarer led low towards dummy's KJxx ? Not surprisingly, your partner's queen fell to her death when declarer rose with the king on the second round of the suit. So once more, by putting The Queen to the sword, you cost your side .....yet again....... another valuable trick in defence.
B-J : Ooops.....sorry....
Pros : Then soon after, did you not throw the queen from your holding of Qxx under declarer's play of AK in that suit ? With partner sitting there with his Jx, you enabled declarer to make 5 tricks in that suit, when only 4 were possible.
B-J : But I was attempting to create a much needed entry to partner's hand.
Pros : Enough of these pitiful excuses.....the simple fact remains that you butchered The Queen .....unnecessarily. And to cap that.....on the very next hand .....did you not ruff a trick with the 9, from your J9 holding, only to see declarer over-ruff with the 10. Then, when he played out the AK of trumps, down came your jack, and partner's queen doubleton. If you had sensibly ruffed with the jack you would have set up a trump promotion, establishing partner's queen as a winner. As it was, you put The Queen to the sword once more !
Judge : I have heard enough of these appalling acts against our monarch......that man is as guilty as hell. Crimes against The Queen cannot and will not be tolerated in this civilised society as ours....
Jury ( in unison ) : Beat him up.....
Judge : Too lenient....
Jury : Send him down...
Judge : Still too lenient....
Jury : Punish him with " life "....
Judge : Good idea....
Jury : No...punish him with " death "
Judge :'re talking.....
B-J : Can I make a suggestion.....
Judge and Jury : No !!.....
B-J : ....Bugger....

Sunday, 23 May 2010

  • Dick Johnson
  • Percy Pecker
  • John Thomas
  • Rod Horn
  • Big Willie Winkie

" Never have so few given so much pleasure to so many. "

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Yes, Bigot-Johnson has big plans. As non-playing captain he has assembled a team of card sharps renown for scaring the living daylights out of all those they encounter, just through their reputation alone.
Already the team has triumphed at major events all over the UK, and now they are ready to take on the world's best.
These players, all former long-stay residents in her majesty's top-rated establishments, have shown themselves to possess many special talents, such as :
- possessing excellent memories
- getting their own back on opponents
- wielding " the axe " in very effective ways
- using intimidating bids/tactics
- silencing their opponents....often permanently
- winning arguments with TD's, without exception
- ruthless exploitation of opponents' weaknesses
- practising deception on a grand scale
- knowing exactly what to do with " stiffs "
- seeing out the successful completion of " contracts "
Indeed, this team has taken the UK bridge world by storm. These are players who are extremely difficult to confront.....but players who are always happy to leave you with their calling cards.
So let's now introduce to the team : Freddie Flick-knife Forbes, Jimmy The Viper Slitheroe, Ivor Machete Johnson, Larry Black Spot Pew, Danny Slow Death Waters, Billy Back Stabber Bowles, Sammy The Shafter Smith, Ronny Mad Dog Maddox, and Johnny Mean Eye Biggs.
So if there's any team out there who believe they are good enough to take on Bigot's Boys , then it might be wise as a precautionary measure to first check out and renew their life-insurance policies. before sending out any invitations.

Monday, 17 May 2010

BIGOT-JOHNSON'S QUICK AND EASY 7 STEP GUIDE TO BECOMING A GRANDMASTER ( despite being completely useless at bridge )
  1. Become a sharp dressed gigolo
  2. Pay $ 100 to buy a false title, and change your name to Sebastian
  3. Party with the rich
  4. Pick out the dullest but richest looking wall-flower
  5. Enter into marriage
  6. File for divorce
  7. Spend all the settlement money on sponsoring top class players to partner you in high profile events, until sufficient masterpoints have been accumulated

Now how easy is that............

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The other day I reviewed a disorder known as haranguerosis, but out there in the bizarre world of bridge lurks another more extreme variant of this condition. This goes by the name selectiva hyperopia hypocritis. The key point about victims with haranguerosis is that they correctly spot their partners' glaring mistakes, waiting till later to berate them when others are gathered. They may be aware of their own mistakes, quieting choosing to ignore them.
However with the SHH disorder, there are one or two symptoms where the differences are quite profound, even though they are not obvious to all. Firstly, victims absolutely have no sense or recognition their own failings and shortcomings. It is a form of selective blindness that becomes a permanent feature of their game. Instead, they possess an amazing ability to develop a razor-sharp awareness to spot every mistake committed by any of 3 other players at the table....especially partners.
This uncanny knack, of perceiving every single aberration committed across the table ( but never on their side ) has caused clinical psychologists such as myself to become both baffled and bemused by this phenomenon. But the most alarming symptom is the devious and vindictive twisting of the analysis, so as to always place the blame unfairly on partner. The greater the selective blindness becomes, the greater the ability to spot mistakes in others, or to transfer their mistakes onto others. The analysis may well be flawed, but the reasoning is both clever and convincing, incredibly devious and hard to refute. Another difference is that criticism is far more vitriolic, being immediately dished out as soon as the bad score is made known.
Bible clinics have been muted as a cure for SHH, whereby sufferers are told ( under hypnosis ) to repeat over and over again " let he who is without sin cast the first stone ".......after each and every hand.
This is a very common disorder characterised by a victim's pathological or exaggerated compulsion to loudly criticise and castigate his/her partner, irrespective of who is really at fault. This particular affliction belongs to a whole group of disorders, where victims completely lose their self-control . This results in low level aggressive behaviour, where all the pent up anger and frustration manifests itself through volleys of accusations, insults, dressing downs, threats and stern reprimands. Players who succumb to haranguerosis possess a flawed and blinkered analysis, which compels them to focus all the blame for bad results on their partners. However, the timing of their outbursts often occurs much later, when large audiences are gathered in the bar area. This ensures that the dressing down becomes a public dressing down. This condition of course is not easy to treat, but back-alley physical work-overs have proved very successful.

Friday, 14 May 2010

BRIDGE BOOKS FIT FOR BURNING.............. ( Says a fired-up Pun )
  • When Bridge Is In Play. Please Be Quiet.........................Les Noyse
  • Why Bother With Over-Complicated Bidding Systems.......Lotta Handel
  • Chinese Player Takes Partner To Court............................Sue Yoo
  • I'm Only Interested In Gay Male Partners..........................Dick Finder
  • He Made All 13 Tricks On A Combined 5 Count.................Howie Dewitt
  • Don't Play Rubber Bridge For Money Against Him..............Rob U. Blind
  • Be Sweet To Your Partner But Also Hard..........................Candy Stick
  • Some Bridge Venues Can Be Real Scary Places...............Helen Wheels
  • Who Are These People That Run This Game ?...................Manda Rinns
  • There's One Thing I Like More Than Bridge........................Carrie O. Key
Of all the disorders and afflictions plaguing bridge players across the world, none can be as distressing as mastapo intrabies. This is a condition which appears to be nothing more than an uncontrollable addiction, but I tend to regard it as an alarming form of OCD.
The first time I came across this disorder was when a client came into my surgery seeking primarily financial help. It appeared that the crippling cost of playing bridge to accumulate green ( master ) points had forced him to apply for a personal bankruptcy order from the courts. In his attempt to obtain green points, the means by which he could acquire enhanced ranking status, he had shelled out thousands of pounds on attending prestige congresses and events. Indeed, in a final throw of the dice to attain grandmaster status, he mortgaged his house twice over to sponsor professionals to partner him in his obsessive quest. But being an utterly useless player, money was being pointlessly wasted, as mid-table placings resulted in him earning far less green points than expected.
Sadly, for all victims of this terrible vanity-driven affliction the higher up the EBU ranking ladder they climb, the more acute the money spending symptoms become. The extent of the correlation is frightening. Weak players, who succumb to delusions of grandeur, are extremely prone to this form of compulsive spending. " Mad dogs " is an image which immediately to comes to mind when seeing such people sacrifice everything in the attempt to move up another rung of the ladder. As the EBU cleverly make the ladder higher and higher, the quest becomes even more compelling.......and costly.
( Footnote : As for this particular client, he committed suicide a few months later, following an acrimonious divorce which left him completely penniless. Indeed, all victims of mastapo intrabies are doggedly resistant to any advice or corrective therapies. Telling some of them that they are respected as " good players " is never enough. They have to obtain the EBU's stamp of approval, desperate to see their names appearing on updated lists of ladder promotions. )

Thursday, 13 May 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY .................
Bridge terminology on many occasions originates from bizarre incidents that occur at the tables, or from the colourful language used by high profile celebrity players. Take for instance the phrase " a cow in every pasture ". This phrase was slightly adapted from the original one " a cow in every field ", which was first used by a Stourbridge BC player in 1947 to describe a hand, containing an honour in every suit. It came as no surprise to hear that he was from the farming community, a rough and ready type.....not endowed with a rich vocabulary. However, in recent years the phrase has come to have a completely different meaning, as sexism in large parts of the UK is still endemic within the game. And so, in most bridge clubs located in the rural and backward parts of England, men are now using this phrase to descibe the awful reality......... that no matter what the event is , or the size of the field, a very disagreeable and unpleasant lady player will be out there grazing.
THE WONDER OF BRIDGE ( PART 2 )........... ( By Bridgemeister Gibson )
Way back in November 2009, I published a hand where 3S was bid and made in both directions !! The gist of the article made out that the hand in question had to be an absolute which was more likely to be the product of our dreams rather than an actual deal. Well, let me tell you that I came across another published hand based on a goulashed deal, where the same thing actually happened. Here the distribution was far more freaky, as illustrated below :
North : 9.....J109.....AQxxx......AKQx
South : J107xxxxx......xxxxx.....(void)....(void)
West : (void) ....(void).....J1098xxx.......xxxxxx
East : AKQ8.......AKQ87....K.....J109
At one table ( N/S vulnerable ), a bold and adventurous South opened 3S, which was passed out. North wisely took no action, and East who was unable to double for penalties also passed, expectiing a few 100 penalty points to come his way. How wrong he was. West led a diamond taken in dummy with the Ace, felling East's stiff king, and South discarding a heart. Then followed 3 top clubs, with 3 more losing hearts going away. Next game the established queen of diamonds, which allowed the last losing heart to go away whether East discards or trumps high. If East trumped low, South would overuff, leaving only 1 heart and 3 spades to lose. Contract made.
At another table, it did require an unusual bidding sequence for West to end up in 3S : pass, pass, 1D, 2H, pass, pass, double, redouble, pass, 3C (panic), double, 3S ( ! )......passed out. Why South didn't double heavens knows....but he also was well pleased with his decision to stay silent, as this contract also came rolling in. South Made the best lead of a low spade at the start, with East having to take the trick with the queen. Next came five hearts tricks with South having to follow all the time. Once East switched to a minor suit, South was obliged to ruff, and now he was effectively end played, having to concede 3 more spade tricks to East. Contract made.
Such things of wonder make bridge the most bizarre, and most delightful, game on God's earth.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

  • Making Slams Without Aces........................................Ray Lee Dunne
  • In Some Bridge Matches You Can See Blood................Ann Gore
  • Work Hard At The Game And Harvest The Rewards....Paddy Fields
  • Is Bridge In Decline ?..................................................Dewey Care
  • I Play Internet Bridge Under Another Name...............Sue Donim
  • Bad Behaviour At The Tables......................................Curt Manners
  • Rules Regarding Full Disclosure..................................Frank D. Tayles
  • Puppet Bids.................................................................Marian Etz
  • Don't Let Bidding Systems Bog You Down....................Pete Farmer
  • Jazz Players Take Up Bridge........................................Dick C. Land

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A TRUE STORY...................... ( By Bridgemeister Gibson )
How do you begin to explain to your captain in a team of 4 match that on a hand where you should be bidding and making a rock solid slam ( in either major ) for plus 1430, your score on that board showed minus 700 !
The answer is both simple and unbelievable.......but true. My RHO opened one diamond, and I, with a powerful 6-6-1-0 distribution hand, made an old fashioned game forcing bid of 2D. My LHO opponent passed...and so did my partner !! With a void to my left, and a singleton to my right, in the majors, not to mention a 7-4 diamond fit for the opponents, they had no trouble taking 12 tricks.
When I rounded on partner as to why he didn't bid, he bashfully admitted he thought the bidding had gone 1D - pass ! - 2D by the opponents...................and only having a few HCPs in the majors and an awkward 4-4-1-4 distribution, he thought a pass was the most sensible option. To bash him fully seemed the most sensible option to pass through my mind at that moment, as I wondered how our fiery and unforgiving captain was going to take this dreadful news.
DESCRIPTIVE BIDDING....... ( Article by Bridgemeister Gibson )
To all intents and purposes bidding should be simple and straightforward. Basic bidding systems are still out there to accommodate players who are partnering each other for the first time. More sophisticated systems are later employed to accommodate ( within an established partnership ) each player's individual needs, preferences, style, and tactical objectives.
The bidding gadgets, conventions, measures, and counter-measures are there to provide a manageable framework to deal with every possible type of hand, enabling useful information about shape, distribution and strength to be easily exchanged. Sensible bidding should leave no room for vagueness or ambiguity. Bids should firstly be informative, understandable, precise and accurate, with regards to what messages you wish to send to partner. However, if in the process bids can scupper and/or fix the opponents, limiting their ability to bid their hands effectively, then two birds can be killed with one stone.
Nevertheless, all bids should be to an agreed system, reflecting a disciplined and honest approach to the game. This will help build up partnership understanding, mutual trust and respect. In short, descriptive bidding at its best is nothing more than solid and reliable bidding, where little or no damage occurs, and all tactical objectives have been met. There may well be alternative bidding routes that achieve the same goals, but isn't that the beauty of the game ?
But what....oh what....are the adjectives we have come to accept about our own flawed and imperfect bidding ? Even players at the top of their game may on occasions stray from the path of disciplined system bids. These unilateral deviations might well be explained as creative, swing-generating, temporising, deceptive, off-centre, improvised and unusual bids. Lesser mortals may be guilty of failing to bid with bidding hands, or committing the more common crimes of under-bidding and over-bidding. Then there are the horror bids, such as phantom sacrifices, plus those which are made out of turn, or deemed insufficient.
Finally, we need to look at the adjectives which have been used ( again and again ) to describe the failings and short-comings of the tens of thousands of players, who make rank bad bids every time they sit down to play bridge. Scathing comments such as :
- limp, lame
- hesitant, timid, cowardly, overly-cautious
- undisciplined, anti-system, filthy, naff, horrid, ludicrous, criminal
- wooden, pedestrian, comatose, conservative
- fatuous, frivolous, flippant, infantile, idiotic, inane
- crazy, insane, way out, outrageous
- futile, pointless
- wild, wayward, random, erratic, reckless, hit and miss
- over-ambitious, wretched, pushing it a bit
- illogical, inappropriate, nonsense, bone-headed
- impulsive, thoughtless
- vague, ambiguous, misleading, indecisive, clueless
So yes, descriptive bidding implies near perfect communication. But when communication in bidding breaks down, as it always does, no one ever uses the adjective " non descriptive ". Bridge players will always strive to find far more colourful, highly descriptive, ones instead.
FULL DISCLOSURE ? : NOW THAT IS A JOKE............ ( Article By Carp )
The principle of active ethics requires players to adhere fully to the disclosure rules and guidelines set down in the game. Only full disclosure can provide equity.
However, here lies two thorny problems : is it possible for full disclosure to ever take place, and how can anyone be certain it has taken place ? Winning is only legitimate and fair if all your opponents had received all of the information to which they were entitled. This requires players to have access to opponents' convention cards, which not only must be complete in detail and identical.....but also capable of being read and understood. How much time has anyone got to look at opponents' convention cards at the start of any round ? Answer : none.
Moreover, players who practice active ethics must give their opponents full disclosure of partnership agreements whenever appropriate, especially if the bids are alertable. Not only that but players are required to :
(a) give complete answers to all requests for information
(b) only use conventions that have been fully discussed with partner, such that questions can be answered correctly
(c) make sure that when they are playing with a regular partner, who knows all about their bids, and bidding style, to include the latter within the full disclosure principle
One appalling breach of active ethics is when a player finds himself in that awkward situation of not knowing what his partner's bid means. Not only will this cause him to go into the tank giving his partner the message he is having this problem, but should his opponents ask about the bid, incomplete, false or ambiguous answers will follow. If tops are achieved through misinterpreted bids, based on ignorance, forgetfulness and/or confusion.....all of which are both unfortunate and unnecessary......they must be classified as hollow and undeserved.
However, the most serious breach, in my opinion, occurs when partnership deviate from their system card, having tendencies to open light in 3rd position, to pre-empt ( say at the 3 level on a 5 card suit ), and to make off-centre or unbalanced 1NT bids. Often, these tendencies have developed into some kind of understanding, but will they be marked on their card.....or verbally communicated to their opponents ? Only when this happens will the opponents get access to the same information about the existence of these possible bidding deviations. But do these deviations lead them into trouble? Not on your life....because if a bid could be weak or strong, clarification or asking bids will certainly be employed. Indeed, one of our club's best players often sticks in a light opener in 3rd position, especially when the circumstances are right, and it's the type of hand makes it perfect sense. When I asked him afterwards his reasoning for sticking 1C bid in on 8HCPs, his answer was most comprehensive : " Not likely to be doubled....favourable vulnerability QJ108 of clubs provides partner with a safe lead if the oppo get to 3NT.....partner won't go wild having already passed.....and the oppo might well place me for having a card that is in my partner's mitt... "
Yet my issue with him was that did his partner have an understanding about the likelihood of light 3rd hand openers, based on either his reputation, and/or past experience ? Were these stated conditions ( circumstances ) those his partner was fully aware, where the possibility of such a frisky opening bid was that much greater ? A grey area indeed. If any type of violation or deviation from the system card can be anticipated or expected, then disclosure of such a possibility must be made.
No player of course is required to adhere rigidly to what is marked on hisher card, and psychs for instance are both an ethical and exciting feature of the game. Without doubt, the art of deception is what makes bridge such a beautiful and abstract game. But the deception has to apply equally to all 3 other players, not just the opposing pair. The surprise element must be the same all round for equity to remain uncompromised. I remember one instance when our own senior TD, who was partnering this same great player, saw the opponents sail into 3NT after his partner had opened the bidding....and he had useful values himself. At the end of play, when the contract failed by 1 trick he boldly announced : " If I had been partnering anyone else I would have doubled ". Now what does that tell you about full disclosure and active ethics ?
And on a final note, I want to come back to my gripe about overly complex bidding systems and system cards that come bound as books. These players know damn well, their cards can not or will not be read fully ( let alone understood ). They also know that any questions asked might well involve lengthy answers, which become by definition incomprehensible, or abbreviated answers that clearly fall short of full disclosure. Add to that the multitude of artificial bids that warrant a barrage of enquiry bids before one of the possible hands explained finally emerges as the reality, then whatever was said at the beginning was nothing more than a confusing fog.
Bridge will become a much better game when the playing fields really start as as level. Bridge players, like all other sportsmen, should play with equipment that rigidly adheres to internationally agreed specifications. The game's administrators have allowed the proliferation of complex bidding systems, conventions and gadgets to get so out of control...............that the quest for full disclosure is nothing more than a joke.

Monday, 10 May 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.................................
  • Ace : one of the chosen few you would love to partner
  • Red : the colour most players see during table altercations
  • Pin : a small metal object you stick into the personalised voodoo dolls of the game's administrators
  • Movement : something irritable bowel players hate to be caught out by
  • Menace : an over used but very apt term to descibe Howard Bigot-Johnson
  • Run : the way that some players have to move on foot towards the toilet, after a sudden movement has been announced
  • Stiff : the sensation a male member might experience when a young attractive lady player comes to his table
  • Frigid : the most common characteristic of young attractive female players

Sunday, 9 May 2010

RETRIBUTION............ ( A dark poem by Carp )
Feel free to stare
Feel free to glare
I'm determined to enjoy my bridge
Feel free to brag
Feel free to nag
My skin is as thick as a rhino's
Feel free to cringe
Feel free to whinge
There's nothing you can do to upset me
Feel free to abuse me
Feel free to accuse me
You can be whatever bastard you like
But once this game is over
Could be time for me to have fun
Time for you to run for your life
Why look... I'm holding this gun
Because hunting " animals " like you
Is no idle boast
For you're the type of "game "
I really love the most

Saturday, 8 May 2010

BIGOT GOES BALLISTIC AGAIN...................... ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
Although Bigot has a deep hatred of Percy Pantopod, he has also come to regard me as his nemisis. Whenever he encounters me at the table, he convinces himself that I'm about to put one over him......... no matter what measures, tactics and strategies he might choose to employ. In his world of magical thinking, I can not be beaten.
Why just the other night, we met up for two boards during a regular duplicate. The first one, Bigot was a tad unlucky to get a below average score, but on the second board two remarkable things happened. The hand was as follows: I held J98....1098xxx......x....J107 opposite my partner's Axx.....(void)....AJxxxx......AKxx.
First off was the auction itself. Bigot's partner, sitting West, opened the bidding with a weak 2 hearts on; xxx....KQJxx....Q....Q654, which led to this unbeleivable sequence of calls: 3D, Double ( penalty ), Pass, Pass, Redouble ( help ), Pass, 3H, Pass, Pass, Double ( penalty ), Pass, Pass, Redouble ( help ), Pass, 3S, Pass, Pass, Double ( penalty ), Pass, Pass, Redouble ( help ), Pass, Pass, Pass ( no where to go ). And so it took 15 bids to move from 2H to 3S, and 9 more bids after that to end the auction on 3S, albeit redoubled. Three times Bigot doubled for penalties, and 3 times North put in a redouble for help. As for me I was up against it having to make 9 tricks, having only 2 HCPs only, and a very ropey 3 card trump suit . Bigot of course was ready to pounce with his KQ10x...Ax....K1098x.....98, convinced that he and his partner held the majority of trumps.
But the really remarkable thing was the outcome. West failed to lead a trump at trick one. What possessed him to lead the King of hearts instead, I do not know......but it certainly caused Bigot to become possessed. All I could do still was set about making the best of a bad job. I ruffed in dummy, cashed two top clubs, and Ace of diamonds. Next came a diamond ruff in hand, but when West discarded I knew for sure there was a God out there on my side . A second heart was ruffed in dummy, and another diamond was ruffed in hand ( unmolested ). A third heart was ruffed in dummy with the Ace ( Bigot by now was going ape shit ), and another diamond from dummy was ruffed with my last trump. Contract made....producing a very fortuitous +960 for an unexpected and undisputed top.
Bigot of course went so ballistic, it took several members to hold him down before powerful sedatives could be injected into his buttock.

Friday, 7 May 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY......................
  • Cut : 1 of a 1000 partner will inflict upon you as punishment for your transgressions
  • Unacceptable call : a request to the club steward for another drink, which unfortunately is " after hours "
  • 2 club response : this occurs when both opponents lay into you simultaneously, each using something akin to a truncheon
  • Turn : a sudden but dramatic change of mood, which sees contentment and compliance being replaced by irritation and awkwardness
  • Convention : a collective noun for a rather large huddle of smug, cocky, back-scratching, bridge playing sycophants
  • Support bid : something you never get from a selfish, contract hogging, egocentric partner
  • Pack : a term which was first coined in an Alaskan BC over 50 years ago, when a large number of players (52 in all ) set about to hunt down and hound out a member, who they desperately wanted to see the back of. The story handed down was that they kept on howling away at the committee members until they finally relented. Then the committee used a trumped up charge against him to impose a life-long ban. " The Ballad Of Old Neil Peck " became a well known Canadian folk song, in which the lyrics detailed the whole sorry saga.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

  • I'm A Winner ......At Long Last !.................................Lauda Bove
  • The Captain Needs Me To Get A Result.......................Ann Corman
  • Why Am I So Cold, Partner ?......................................Dora Jarr
  • Bridge Final's Exciting Climax....................................E. I. M. Cummin
  • Tight Contracts.....I Love Them !................................Leah Tard
  • Playing Good Bridge Requires A Clear Head.................Dizzy Hites
  • Partner, I'm Prepared To Bury The Hatchet................Olive Branch
  • Entering Bridge Heaven.............................................Pearl E. Gates
  • Complex Approach Bidding Helps Defenders More.......Daisy Picking
  • Keeping Bridge Travel Costs Down..............................Cher Ackar

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

BRIDGE PLAYER'S LAMENT..................... ( A literary masterpiece discovered By Bridgemeister Gibson inside an old and rare second-hand bridge book, he bought at a recent car boot sale )
I never cry
I never nag
I never shout
I never brag
I never cheat
I never wail
I'm happy to lose
I'm happy to fail
I never moan
I never bite
I never niggle
I never fight
I never snarl
I never snap
Hey what I've just said
Is a whole load of crap
Because when I play bridge
I become a changed man
And all these good virtues
Go straight down the pan

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Most psychological and personality disorders affecting bridge players are obvious to all those looking on. However, there is one hidden syndrome that many of us fail to notice in others, simply because victims tend to hide the symptoms very well. Called the SIAR syndrome, this debilitating condition leaves its victims depleted, defeated, dejected, demoralised and depressed. It's an affliction that makes these victims cry out to themselves: " Why me ? "
SIAR is an acronym for " Stuck-In-A-Rut ", and a rut by definition is a settled or established habit or course of action, which leads to boredom, misery, and depression. The phrase " in a rut " alludes to having a wheel stuck in a groove in the road, which is hard to escape.
In bridge the " conventional " rut relates to a player who finds him/herself trapped in a never-ending sequence of poor decisions, bad luck and wretched results. No matter how hard a victim tries to escape (or rectify ) this situation , the more entrenched it becomes. Some players, who desperately try to get out of the rut, behave as if they were digging their way out of a hole. All they end up doing is making the hole bigger !
What's worse for these victims is that because it was so easy for them to fall into such ruts, any escape may only provide a temporary reprieve..... bridge being such a cruel and merciless game. Smart arse commentators have remarked that the great advantage of being in a rut is that victims knows exactly where they are at. Well, for them to know they are at the bottom.......trapped in some horrible abyss.......offers no comfort at all, since it is a situation they find hard to accept. As another commentator once remarked, " the only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions ".
As for helping SIAR victims, this can be " tricky ". Changing the mind sets of players, who have this condition, requires them to initiate crucial changes, such as changing partners, system cards, sitting positions, bidding and play strategies, habits and rituals they feel comfortable with...and possibly even bridge clubs. For most victims the idea of change is a " no-no ", as their current mind set convinces them " that'll never work " or " too risky..... need to play it safe ". As a consequence of this negativity, the cycle of disadvantage remains unbroken. Sadly, procrastination and SIAR go hand in hand. " But I might change that in the future " are words that are nothing more than wishful thinking....words that ring disturbingly hollow.
WALKING ON WATER.......................... ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
Opening leads against slams can turn out to be match winners or match losers. Why just the other day I was involved in a team of 4 ( aggregate scoring ) knock-out match......... and despite my first half heroics we were well down at the break. Then came a succession of very flat part-score boards, where very little was clawed back. However, when the penultimate board came along the miracle happened. Sitting South I was declarer in a vulnerable 6H contract....doubled and redoubled. East, who made the double had already competed with his two suited diamond/spade hand ). I held Qx....KQ9xxx....Kx....10xx, while my partner had been bidding on AK10x.....AJ10x......(void).....KJ9xx. East of course had made a lightner double for an obvious club lead, but my redouble was a pure gamble, because instinct told me we needed a really big result here to win this match.
Everything now depended on what card emerged from West's hand for the opening lead. Had my redouble somehow added confusion to an already foggy mind. Who knows ? But what did emerge from this inept defender was the 6 of spades !! The miracle of walking on water was about to unfold. I naturally took the trick in hand, ruffed a diamond, came back across to my trump queen, for a another diamond ruff with the Ace of hearts. I then played a heart from dummy to run out 5 heart winners in hand. Nine tricks were safely in the bag.
Poor East was squeezed. He couldn't guard spades without having to pitch the queen of clubs, and so a simple throw in with a club resulted in him being end played in spades. Reading his hand required simple logic and deduction, but the walking on water always required a great big dollop of help from The One above. That bumbledog lead resulted in a gain of 3220 points ( +2220 as opposed to -1000 ).......and so the " walking " continued as we sneaked home to an improbable victory by a mere 140 points.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

YOU NEVER CAN TELL ... ( A classic Chuck Berry song adapted by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
In bridge, more than any other game unexpected results crop up time and time again. Fate often conspires against the very best players, catapulting complete numpties to the top. How many times do we hear disgruntled players say " How on god's earth did they manage to win ? " So why not adopt this wonderful song as an advert for the game, convincing people " you never can tell " what might happen......because if the gods are up to playing tricks........... then the unexpected will surely happen.
* * * * * * *
It was a most unusual pairing
But the selectors wished them well
Many wondered if they'd hit it off
Fearing that they just wouldn't gel
But boy did their opponents suffer
As they sure did give 'em hell
" C'est la vie ", say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell
They furnished their system card
With loads of clever devices
Cunning, nasty devious bids
To put their oppo in crisis
And when psyches were used
Boy did they work out well
" C'est la vie" , say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell
Their barn-storming sessions
Hit oppos with helluva blast
Gaining eight hundred penalties
And others incredibly vast
But then the game lost its buzz
And their motivation fell
" C'est la vie ", say the old folks
It goes to show you never can tell
So then they took up poker
With their bridge days finally over
Success in this game meant money
Their life was now in clover
So when at last they married
It was a story that ended so well
" C'est la vie ", say the old folks
It goes to show never can tell

Saturday, 1 May 2010

( A criminal prosecution was brought against Mrs. Bigot-Johnson for a blatant breach of the regulations relating to the control of hazardous waste, as laid down by the HSAW Act. A short but relevant extract from the recorded notes of the trial can be seen below. )
Prosecuting counsel : Is it not the case Mrs. B that your husband is a complete waste of space....
Mrs B-J : Yes...there's no denying that.....
PC : And..... using your very own words is he not also....... " a complete waste of time " ?
Mrs B-J : That's has always been my opinion...
PC : So in other words he is quite simply " a waste "
Mrs. B-J : Yes....
PC : But a waste ....which you knew was both hazardous and dangerous to others
Mrs. B-J : Well, he's always seems to be cause of every ruction and explosive incident that takes place at his bridge club
PC : Yes, and most of those incidents have all been highlighted earlier on in this trial
Mrs. B-J : Yes...most of them were truly shameful...
PC : I know.....but the crucial fact on which this case turns is that you, Mrs. B, put it upon yourself to lock your husband in at night to stop him going out to the club. You imposed upon yourself the duty to control and make safe this hazardous waste.....which was infact your husband. In law the liability is strict for anyone who (a) has on their land a dangerous thing which is likely to do mischief should it escape, and (b) fails to stop its escape by some careless act or omission. By failing in your duty Mrs. B, you are prima facie answerable for all the damage, which was clearly a direct consequence of a tragic oversight .
Mrs.B-J : I never realised....but surely the club should not have let him in ?
PC : Interesting point, but your husband was still a paid-up member....and not under any ban at that time. Therefore, he had a right to enter. However, you were the one who was operating a ban at your end, having volunteered to become his jailer. The duty to stop him going into the club was yours....and yours alone.
Mrs B-J : Oh....
PC : And once your husband got to the bridge club, several players then became traumatised by his appalling behaviour, and his endless histrionics. The psychological damage he caused to these poor people was immense.
Mrs. B-J : I'm so sorry, but I didn't know the crafty old devil had managed to steal... and copy..... a set of keys behind my back....
PC : Sadly for you, that excuse does not add up to a viable defence.....because, when you have under your control a hazardous waste like that, it must be locked away very, very securely. The greater the risk the greater the standard of care imposed upon you. Your husband can be likened to a toxic poison.....and your carelessness, regretfully, let him loose. Is there you any comment you would like to make at this stage of the trial ?
Mrs. B-J: Just one.........................Bugger