Saturday, 31 July 2010

The dictionary definition might well define the term as " a malicious and underhand action ". Usually associated with covert and unethical behaviour in the fields of both politics and corporate business, it inevitably involves the unscrupulous practice of exposing a scandal about an opponent, purely with a view to generate adverse publicity. This strategy, if it all goes to plan, causes immense ( often permanent ) damage to the enemy's reputation, status and objectives. Even when the allegations are proved false, irreparable damage has been done.
So when and where did the concept of " dirty tricks " originate from ? Who was responsible for first coining the phrase ? Well, my research team has come up with the answers.
Way back in 1936 at Walnut Tree Allotment Bridge Club, a certain Mr. Snyder was an active member, renown for being utterly ruthless......a man who would do whatever it takes to pursue glory and success at the bridge tables. He was without doubt a corrupt man, full of malicious intent, looking to prey upon opponents he thought were weak and vulnerable. He set out to target players, who would not suspect, or detect, his underhand methods of stealing an extra trick or two. That extra trick, no matter how it was obtained, was his sole objective. The fact it was " dirty " was irrelevant : a dirty trick is still a trick.....and winning tricks is what really matters.
One of his common ploys was to observe the slightest and merest transgression by his opponents and shout for the TD, maligning their innocent indiscretions as blatant and gross violations of the Orange Book rules. Weak TD's often buckled under his tirade of outrageous accusations about their " unethical behaviour ", and on many occasions he was given a one trick adjustment or equivalent. The accumulation of these " dirty tricks " produced a string of countless tops , which enabled Mr. Snyder to achieve even greater success, plus enhanced status, which in turn led to an even greater level of control over weak opponents, and woefully inadequate TD's.
So never in the world of sport has anyone been able to get away with so many dirty tricks, as Mr. Snyder did with his knowledgeable abuse and manipulation of the rules. Sadly, his relentless determination and underhand tactics have been adopted by many other unscrupulous players, as they too attempt to win any way they can.......even if it means resorting to malicious and underhand claims, based on exaggerations, hyperboles, and lies.
But the person who first coined the phrase " dirty tricks " was none other than equally infamous Howard Bigot-Johnson. Indeed, it was very unfortunate for the elderly Mr. Snyder to cross this very headstrong and highly volatile young man, who was trying out duplicate bridge for the first time. This one particular incident, in 1978, led to Snyder's untimely death after foolishly huffing Bigot out of a good board, by falsely alleging a gross deviation in tempo. Bigot was so incensed he decided to play a dirty trick of his own on this dreadful man. After breaking into his house through an open rear window, he attached a live mains wire to the inside half of the front door handle......minutes before his victim was due to arrive home from the bridge club. Bigot of course simply wanted Snyder's last memory of a hand to be a real shocker !
THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY................ ( alternative definitions )
  • Post mortem : an essential exercise in transferring blame onto others
  • Bid : something that is supposed to communicate useful information about a player's hand
  • Dingo Principle : a rule that evolved from the intensely competitive bridge arenas from down under, which promotes the dog-eat-dog attitude that " it's every bastard for himself "
  • Traveller : a tight-fisted player who always manages to negotiate free lifts off others to away matches
  • Direction : what most visiting players usually ask for on arrival when seeking urgent relief
  • Director : the very person who is best equipped to tell visitors the quickest route to the toilets. Usually referred to as the " TD ", which of course stands for toilet director.
  • Heart stopper : a term given to any comment made to a player which causes immediate panic or alarm, such as " yesterday partner, when I was with your wife, I showed her my stiff ... whereupon she immediately jumped me..... "
  • Palooka : a member of the largest fraternity within any bridge club the world over. Palookas will elevate themselves to a status or position that woefully exposes their gross limitations. Often these idiots will insist on having the last word, oblivious to the fact that everyone has left the room.
  • Bridgemate : regarded in some clubs as the ultimate offensive weapon. Its first reported use was made by a pig trader who saw it hurtle through the air towards his unsuspecting bridge partner, a split-second after the object had been snatched from his hand by an irate opponent.

Friday, 30 July 2010

THIN VALUES BUT GOOD FITS....................... ( Article by Johnny Supremo )
I always love it when partner and I come up with hands, which although lacking in HCPs fit so well together in terms of shape and distribution. Let us never forget how James Bond pulled in a grand slam on a combined 5 count. As for me I'm more than happy to bid and make game on a 19-20 count.
To bid games on thin valuest the first requirement is to have a damn good trump fit. After that there are 3 possible scenarios that really make it all possible. If you are your partner have an equally good fit in a second suit, then your worries are over. Moreover, if either one of you has a long robust second suit, which offers trick taking ( loser discarding ) potential then its hunky dory land. Finally, if both of you have a shortage in different side suits, then a cross-ruffing strategy will deliver the goods.
Why just the other day I was playing with a relative newcomer to the game, when I picked up 6....Q9875....K1074....AK5. Naturally I opened 1H only to hear partner bid 2C on his J9....KJ2.....QJ3....Q8762. I responded 2D, and my partner God bless him jumped to 3H ( good bid given his novice status ). Never one from shirking an invitation I raised to 4H. With just 3 Aces to lose, the game was a simple formality.......even on a combined 22 count. Mind you we did need diamonds and hearts to behave. What made game a near certainty was the excellent double fit in hearts and clubs.
Then, four boards later, I picked up 95...AK65.....KJ9842.....8 ( an 11 count ), and duly opened 1D. Pass from my LHO and 1H from partner. Such joy. Double on my right. Without a flicker of hesitation....I bid 3H. Pass. And with the wisdom of Solomon partner bid 4H to put an end to this rather one-sided auction. My RHO, completely unamused by his partner's reluctance to bid over his double, quickly cashed A/K of spades to take the first two tricks. Declarer's hand was a ragged 8 count : 42....QJ742.....A7....J732. But at trick 3 the canny defender switched to a heart in an attempt to deny declarer the opportunity to ruff 3 clubs. No worries there as the long diamond suit offered both hope and salvation. So taking the heart trick in dummy with the Ace, declarer then played a low heart to his queen.......only to discover the 3-1 break. Unperturbed, he played the diamond Ace, followed by a low one to dummy's King, both defenders following. On the third round of diamonds, the jack of hearts ruff secured the trick. With 3 diamonds now set up in dummy for club discards, declarer played a low heart to dummy's King ( removing the last trump ) to see the contract home : 5D, 1 diamond ruff, and 4 H, conceding only 2S and 1C.
So yet again a game contract came in, but this time on a combined 19 points. Not only did we have an excellent trump fit, but the long robust diamond suit was well worth its weight in gold.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : THE STRESS PUPPY SYNDROME Astute observers often notice the more irritating and annoying character traits of their fellow club members ahead of any other traits . Some witty observers will strive to give them a label. So yet again I owe Leslie Shafer a big favour for drawing my attention to a particular disorder I had unbelievably overlooked. " Stress puppy " was a slang term created by Leslie to define......... " a person who seems to thrive on being stressed out by every bid, and whining every time he/she goes down ".
Well, I can now confirm the existence of these symptoms as belonging to a particular and rather disturbing disorder, which should be forever known as The Stress Puppy Syndrome, if only as an acknowledgement and thanks to Leslie. Having looked closely at clients who clearly have this condition, I am shocked to see the wider picture of casualties involved. Bridge clubs seem overrun with whinging, whining, highly strung, highly neurotic players, who act like new born dogs. They arrive at the club all frisky, enthusiastic and playful.....only to sit down and be on edge, stressing themselves on each and every hand to the point of nervous exhaustion.
Whimpering under their breath every time an awkward decision has to be made, their earlier moments of joyful, playful bravado soon become a distant memory. When things start to go wrong, victims of this syndrome become crestfallen, and in the process become more stressed out and prone to whining. They whimper like a young puppy being forced to wait for a bowl of food.
However, other symptoms come into play much later on during a difficult session : they become morose, extremely pessimistic, and completely overwhelmed by a strong persecution complex. As their stress levels increase so does their capacity to whine.
As a therapist who has tried in vain to combat this affliction, I am come to the conclusion that acute sufferers would be better off if their partners had the common sense to take them to the vet to be " put down ". It may seem to many that I come across as a defeatist, but one thing is for sure........ I'm not a miracle worker....and I'm certainly not a licenced dog-trainer.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. JOHN...............
Dear Doctor John,
Although you claim to be an innovative, pioneering psycho-analyst, who specialises in dealing with mentally unbalanced bridge players, I cannot find your name in any UK registers of licenced practitioners.
Moreover, as an EBU official for over 30 years I object to the way you seem to demonise players as being odd, abnormal, mentally disturbed, nasty, psychopathic, and in some instances darn right evil. You portray players in a dark and sinister way, picking up on the smallest character trait and exaggerating it to the point of vindictive ridicule.
Indeed, most of your labels are completely laughable, made up of psycho mumbo-jumbo, while the others appear to be borrowed from dodgy, unreliable, wacky internet sites.
I for one reject every single word you have ever written, and in my mind the only sick bastard in this world of bridge is you !
Yours Des. B. Lever
Dear Des,
Licenced practitioners are nothing more than blinkered automatons, who obediently follow and repeat the failed therapies of the past. Many of my bridge playing clients come to me because they have been let down by the " establishment " psychiatrists and psycho-analysts. Disillusioned as I was with all this establishment hogwash, I decided to set up and form my own school on alternative psycho-therapies. Having awarded myself its first honorary doctorate, I have educated many others to adopt the " Dr. John Way " of dealing with highly deranged individuals. These were dedicated followers who were prepared to invest tens of £'000's just to walk away with one of my graduation certificates.
As for my articles, which I might add appear both in The Lancet and the HBJ blog, I can assure you that they all reveal a harsh truth about the make up, personality traits, and mental problems experienced by bridge players the world over. I admit that the overall picture I paint of the bridge world is rather grim and extremely disturbing.........but the fact remains this beautiful game unfortunately brings out the" dark side " that lies deep within a player's psyche . Try to see bridge players as being " possessed " as a result of their willingness to let the game completely take over their lives. Or try to imagine them as being " infected by a bridge virus " which messes up their minds. This game somehow releases the beast in man in the same way as any one of the 7 deadly sins has done since the dawn of time.
As for my labels, I have earned the right to invent them since I was the first to spot and diagnose such disorders. Therefore, if you have failed to see players display symptoms I have associated with a particular condition, then you sir are blind. Or maybe you are living in a world of self-delusion ? Either are like all the rest who choose to ignore my work......totally consumed by self-denial.
So if you choose to write me off as a charlatan then that is your right, but from the nature and tone of your comments, you more than anyone are clearly in need of my services.
Yours always charging ahead, Dr. John

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.......................
  • Ladder : an apparatus used for scaling heights, which top players like to climb up in order to " look down " on the riff raff below
  • Pay-to-play : a new EBU initiative to make easy money, taking inspiration from those working in the red light light districts of every major city or town. Quick trick enthusiasts have stepped forward to thoroughly endorse this proposal.
  • Bridgemate : a term of endearment often used by one player about another, especially in gay bridge clubs in and around London
  • Rigid : (i) a term used to describe a contract that should always make, and (ii) a commonly used adjective to describle an inflexible member
  • Stiff : an inflexible or rigid member
  • Bum hand : one you use to wipe your bottom
  • Bottom : what every player needs to wipe clean ( off their scorecard )
  • Scorecard : a record showing how many times a player came on top

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Without doubt bridge can be very addictive. The path towards addiction is the one that leads straight to the local bridge club, especially if it is taken to escape dealing with the difficulties of life. However, escapes into the world of bridge fail.....because escapes into any addiction never work. In fact the indulgence in this pastime only worsens the situation by allowing the player to get separated more ftom his work, and more from his family. Then.....and this is the big mistake.....the bridge addict decides to flee further into his addiction rather than face the problems. This cycle of escape - failure - more escape is what causes the addiction to increase over time. The poor victim chooses to escalate escape even though he knows escape attempts always fail. Then, after a while, most addicts reach an abusive level of bridge involvement and don't increase it : they just simply maintain it.
Bridge addicts need help desperately and early intervention is the key to success. But how does one spot those players who allow bridge to take over and control their lives. Many see bridge as a sin, and in the words of W.H. Auden " all sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addition is damnation ". So since it is imperative to spot potential addicts before it is too late, I have drawn up a list of crucial tell-tale signs ....and recognisable symptoms . These are players who..........
- believe more than enough of the game is never too much
- open every conversation at the club with the words..." you hold "
- can't kick the habit, often turning out to the club no matter how severe the weather conditions are
- never turn down an offer for a game
- if they can't get a game will sit down and watch one
- despite the rising level of verbal abuse from partners come back for more
- regard death as more appealing option than the cancellation of a game
- allow winning to take priority over participation
- resort to secretiveness, lying and deceit on family and friends in order to " find more time " to play
- make repeated but unexplained outings to bridge venues, often with a sense of urgency
- develop severe sleeping problems, either sleeping less or at different times of the day
- if left on their own with a pack of cards, choose not to play patience but deal out 4 hands instead
- want to talk about bridge all the time
- enter longer and longer periods of self-condemnation over poor and mediocre performances
- on meeting people for the first time will immediately ask them if they play bridge or not
- suffer acute anxiety, distress or pain whenever they are starved of a game
- spend all of their time on the Internet visiting bridge-related sites
- experience extreme highs and lows during a session at the tables
The irony is of course that the more the game takes control over their lives, the more bridge addicts sink into self-denial. Indeed, even those who have recognised their weakness, and have been on courses offering alternative recreational pursuits.......they immediately relapse into playing bridge again. This is because the " buzz " they get from playing the game is one that they have to experience again...and again....and again.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

( For the umpteenth time Bigot-Johnson was hauled before the committee members, who were hell bent on " getting him " good and proper, irrespective of how petty his crimes might be. However, on this occasion the charge was very serious indeed, as the transcript of the shortest proceedings on record will reveal. )
Chairman : Bigot, is not a fact that you are the victim of a multiple personality disorder ?
B-J : Yes....
Chairman : And this means, of course , that you are made up of several different selves ?
B-J : I suppose so......
Chairman : Therefore, is it true to say that when you turn up to the club, you arrive with all your other selves ?
B-J : I guess so...
Chairman : And so when you take a seat at the table, all these other selves sit down with you ?
B-J : Yes....but what on earth lies behind all these questions ? I need to know what crimes, if any, I'm supposed to have committed ?
Chairman : All will be revealed in due course...............So please tell me, Bigot, what table money do you pay ?
B-J : £ 3-50
Chairman : Exactly.......therefore by your own testimony.......... you only pay for yourself and no one else ! Yet you come to this club with all your other selves.... BUT NONE OF THEM contribute anything to the table money coffers. This amounts to wilful and deliberate non-payment of club fees. By our reckoning you owe us £30 for each session you ....with your other cronies.......have turned up to play. This adds up to a total outstanding debt of £ 3,000 for the year. And up to £ 90,000 for the total time you've been a member of this club. This means Bigot..... unless we get all this money, you are banned indefinitely.
B-J : Ooops.....
Chairman : So what have you Bigot-Johnson....or any of your other selves for that to say about that ?....................
B-J ( and others ) : Bugger....bugger.....bugger......bugger......bugger
BIGOT COMES UNDER QUESTIONING.............................
For once Bigot-Johnson managed to find a competent partner.....or so he thought. Here was someone keen to pack his convention card with all the latest and modern conventions. So umpteen were agreed upon, and the two sat down to play. However, during one rather awkward bidding sequence, Bigot made a convention bid which his partner correctly alerted. This caused a picky opponent to ask what the alert meant. Although, his partner started off quite well with an accurate defintion of the convention, his subsequent explanation rambled on without real conviction or confidence. The opponent was soon pulling out his hair in confusion and despair. And so when the bidding came round to Bigot, the opponent decided now to get to the truth ! The time had come for Bigot to answer a few questions........................
Oppo : That explanation given by your partner of your 3C bid.........was it correct ?
B-J : I don't'll have to ask him.
Oppo : I need to know if any detail was missing.
B-J : Well, if there is ....he's keeping it from me too !
Oppo : But how do you know if that's the case ?
B-J : I don't...
Oppo ( getting more irritated by the minute ) : But you just said you did ......
B-J : No....I just said I didn't.
Oppo ( boiling over with utter frustration ) : What the hell are you saying ? Is he....or are you for that matter ....keeping things from me ? I still need to know how you know that you don't know that partner's explanation may not be complete ?
B-J : ( getting a tad irate himself ) : I don't know for sure if my partner has given you a full and detailed explanation to the best of his ability, because I don't know if he knows more about the convention than me. How can I know about things he knows about but I don't ?
Oppo : But did he know what I needed to know in order not to be damaged.....some vital bit of information I haven't yet been told ?
B-J : Just hold on a mo.....can I just clarify where this ridiculous conversation has got to ? You're asking me if I know what it is that I can't possible know about, being what he knows about this convention. How is it possible for me to know if my partner knows about your need to know, and therefore whether or not that he has meet it. Heaven knows what you need to know to enable him to know what to say. Surely, he can only know whether or not you you have been put in the know if he knows what your exact needs to know really are. And how can he be expected to know them ? I reached a point now of not knowing what anyone knows . In fact when it comes to this particular convention my knowledge and understanding is very limited.
Oppo : You, Bigot, are are your partner should not be using a convention if either of you don't know the damn thing inside out.....or are unaware that any explanation offered by one may be incorrect or incomplete. I'm now going to report you both to the TD.
B-J : You sir are a tosser !
Oppo : And you sir have made an insult which you'll undoubtedly answer for in court !
B-J : ......Bugger.....

Friday, 23 July 2010

BRIDGE BOOKS MOST EXPERTS THOUGHT REALLY SUCKED ......... ( Claims a rather bemused Pun )
  • Big Competitions Scare Me To Death.....Ivor " Strangely " Brownbottom
  • Please Partner, Try A Bit Harder.......................Buster Gutt
  • Knockout Competitions' First Round Exits........Earl E. Dawes
  • The Best Way To Deal With Cheats.....................Lynn Ching
  • Things Not Going Right, Partner ? .....................F. N. Ellman
  • I'm Gonna Give Up This Game............................Byther Waye
  • Viagra Helps Players Become Far More Frisky...Randy Newman
  • This Is What Happens To Me When I'm Tired......Bo Bose
  • Lewd And Sexy Bridge Stories............................Ray C. Tayles
  • There's Too Much To Learn In This Game...........Lotta Handel

Thursday, 22 July 2010

WHAT IS THIS GAME OF BRIDGE THEN ? ....... ( Follow up article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
It is often joked that " bridge is not a matter of life and is far more serious than that ! " such is the intensity and passion that this game can instill in those renown for their fierce competitive spirit. In the USA, the infamous incident of The Bridge Table Murder proves beyond doubt how bridge can cause so much friction, especially when husband and wife partnerships are involved.
In this story Myrtle Bennett shot her husband after an altercation over a game of bridge. Already frustrated with her husband John's inept play, the final straw came when he went down in a 4S contract she viewed as makeable. After calling him a " a bum bridge player ", he proceeded to slap her in the face several times in front of her guests. At this point, she went to the bedroom to find her husband's firearm........and the rest is history.
The case caught the public imagination big time. It became a media sensation and a flash point in the bridge craze that was sweeping the nation. Indeed, after a not guilty verdict, someone then remarked " it looks like an open season on husbands ".
Well, here in little old Britain we might well have an identical case to rival the Bennetts. Yesterday's newspaper headline was " Bridge player who constantly slated his wife's ability at cards stabbed her to death. " A trial currently taking place at Preston Crown Court concerns a 57 year old man, Stephen Green, who allegedly attacked his wife, leaving her with 100 injuries. Three days after the body was found, he was found by the police in a bath with self-inflicted cuts to his wrists.
The prosecution are claiming that Green believed that he was better bridge player than his wife Carole. Moreover, as a result of his drinking habit he had become vociferously critical towards his wife when they were playing cards. He often put her down, calling her stupid for failing to understand what was going on. Clearly the marriage was breaking up, and her bridge misdemeanours became the catalyst for his violent outbursts.
If one considers this to be an open and shut case , despite his pleas of innocence, Stephen Green will not escape as lightly as Myrtle Bennett. Maybe this trial, in an era where the popularity of bridge is in decline, will soon be forgotten.......never to achieve the same degree of notoriety. However, both cases should reinforce one important message : bridge is a seriously good game, one we should take seriously but never too seriously.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

BIGOT LOSES HIS RAG.......AGAIN............... ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
Poor old Bigot. He had single-handedly and valiantly managed to claw back a half-time 1000 point deficit in a teams match against a sided captained by his arch-enemy Percy Pantopod. Much now depended on getting a big score on the penultimate hand to engineer a last final push to secure victory. His partner had picked up an enormous red two suiter : x ....AKQxx......A98xxx....Q.
Bigot unfortunately was looking down at AK10....9....Jx......KJ10xxxx. Classic misfit time. Naturally partner opened 1D only for the man to respond 2C. Next came a forcing reverse bid 0f 2H, and so Bigot decided on 2S ( 4th suit forcing ) for want of a more constructive bid. Failing to have a stopper in spades, his partner bid 3H to confirm a 6-5 distribtion in the red suits. Seeing no better contract than 3NT, the hog decided anyway he was best placed to play the contract. Three more passes ended the auction Somehow the irritating Percy Pantopod found an inspired lead of the queen of spades ....from Qx !! Bigot was obliged to take the trick in hand with the Ace. He knew he was in trouble. If he played any club, even a half-witted defender would hop up with the Ace, to fire back a heart and lock declarer in dummy. Now if hearts broke 5-2, nothing could be done to avoid the defence enjoying 2D, 2H and 1C to defeat the contract.
So Bigot tried another plan by playing on diamonds at trick 2, hoping that even with a bad heart break, but a favourable 3-2 diamond split, defence might err allowing him to make 3H, 4D and 2S. He gave himself an extra chance by playing the diamond jack to pin a stiff 10. No such luck. The jack ran round to be taken by South's queen. Back came a second heart. Doomed.
North came up with a 2-5-3-3 distribution, while South had a 7-2-2-2 . Bigot was now well and truly pissed off.
So when partner meekly suggested that perhaps it would have been better to start on clubs, the bull began snorting. " You doesn't matter a jot whether the defence get their club trick straight away or later....the outcome was going to be the same.....8 tricks and no more. I had no communication to my hand . "
" Well, it should turn out to be flat board eh ? . "
Oooops....the red rag that Bigot had lost was now being waved back at him across the table. The bull was on the rampage.....and had partner firmly in his sights. " You thundering great numpty......knowing this rural lot of kitchen bridge bidders.....who don't know what sophisticated bidding is all about.... they will keeping keeping their 7 card club suit until the cows come home. 6C is a lay down slam.....6C, 3H, 2S, and 1D. Do you want me to thrash you now ....or later ? "
Postscript: Sure enough the opposition did end up in a club contract, but only 5. Nevertheless the 450 swing was enough to condemn Bigot to yet another first round exit from the Nicko competition .

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG....................
Dear Rebecca,
What is this dreadful Bigot-Johnson blog all about ? What possesses such a man to write such appalling drivel ? Hasn't he got any sensible or intelligent stuff to say on the topic of bridge ?
Yours getting increasingly ratty, Ira " Ted " Reader
Dear Ira,
HBJ's blog may on numerous occasions be nothing more than the rantings and ravings of a sick man with a multiple personality disorder. This tragic condition came about when repeated exposure to radiation seriously affected his brain. Apparently, during his early days at the orphanage he found a rock-sized meteorite in the garden. He then used in his bedroom as a night light when he discovered how brightly it glowed in the dark.
As far as HBJ is concerned, he is determined to forge ahead ( against all advice, criticism, condemnation and protest ) because he has a mission. Acutely aware that he has only a handful of followers, he still firmly believes all his readers enjoy his blog. Indeed, the King of the potato people has told him so.
Therefore, my advice to you is simple : if his blog upsets you don't read it. Get a life elsewhere.
Yours his most ardent admirer, Disrespectfully Rood

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Some bridge players for a whole stack of inexplicable reasons refuse to acknowledge their part or responsibility in getting poor scores. All blame is fully attributed to partner. This awful affliction has already been covered by me in my Nov 2009 post, where the Noti Butu Matia Syndrome described such a disorder in much greater detail.
However, a new and more disturbing variant of this syndrome has reared its ugly head, where the blame avoidance and blame transference games have suddenly reached unprecedented heights. Indeed, a victims of Inventa Excusiosis are under an overwhelming compulsion to invent any excuses whatsoever to shift blame away from themselves, by dumping it all onto their partners. Surpressing the unpalatable truths that they were solely at fault for the bidding cock-ups, and defensive blunders, they feel compelled to clutch at straws in a desperate last-ditch attempts to deny responsibility. Magical thinking instantly comes into play, as they frantically seek out the most amazing and fanciful excuses. The most common one is that an earlier error by partner was stilling praying on their mind, adversely affecting their ability to think straight.
As Leslie Shafer astutely pointed out in one of her excellent articles on new bridge slang, players often sit around after the game, discussing why they ended up with such wretched scores.....especially on hands which were seen as awkward and difficult to both bid and play. This required them to utilise all their blamestorming skills, very much in the same way as executives utilise their brainstorming skills to resolve problematic issues. However, what Leslie failed to recognise was that this form of behaviour is the classic symptom of this particular disorder. The irony of course is that if sufferers of Inventica Excusiosis applied half as much brain power to the actual bidding and play of the hands, they wouldn't need to be wasting their time and energy dredging up.....and dreaming up....the most appalling excuses afterwards.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

WHAT IS THIS GAME OF BRIDGE THEN ?................... ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
People who know so little about card games often ask this question, expecting of course to get a simple answer. So how does one go about defining bridge in a way that captures the very essence of the game ? Well, I've been doing a bit of Internet research and have come across quite a few useful definitions.....all of which suggest that the authors have gone about the task with a good dollop of realism and humour. Bridge therefore is simply......
  • an absurd game in which players try to analyse the significance of every card played, when in fact the person who played the card more often than not picked it out at random
  • an alternative to viagra, where male players look to jump their female partners at every opportunity, seeking out perfect fits, raising to the limit, and hoping to score big
  • a highly ritualised and sophisticated form of non-physical violence
  • a game which specialises in organised loafing
  • a card game in which a good deal depends on a good deal
  • violence under wraps
  • a game that requires a real understanding with partner, in that if things go wrong someone has to die
  • an obvious alternative to a friendly and social game of cards
  • a weapon of mass distraction
  • a game in which a wife is always eager to do her husband's bidding
  • a test of one's skill against an opponent's luck
  • a game that has been destroying marriages since 1927
  • an extreme addiction, which is only curable by death
  • a non-violent game played violently from within
  • the ultimate adventure, for if people see it as just a game then the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the desert
  • a game not at all about winning or losing, but whether you win or lose
  • a game in which winning isn't everything, because what matters is the gloating and rubbing their noses in it
  • an institution full of crazy people, a gravy train on which psycho-analysts and therapists can climb on board to earn a lucrative living
  • illogical, in that your partner, contrary to all expectations, proves to be more of an enemy than your opponents
  • an unfair game, where weak players are regularly hunted down like game
  • a masturbater's paradise, given that any man with a good hand dosen't need a partner
  • a game played in dins of inequity, where superior players constantly scream and rant at their inferior partners

Friday, 16 July 2010

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG..............................
Dear Rebecca,
I'm at my wits' end. Whenever my partner opens a weak 1NT ( 12-14 ), I'm forever holding a problem 6-8 point hand with a flat 4-4-3-2 distribution. The times I choose to pass the inevitable happens.......the oppo immediately rattle off 5 tricks in a minor, plus a couple more later on, giving me a wretched score. It goes without saying there was a safe 2H/2S contract available with us having a 4-4 fit in one of the majors. However, on the occasions I do risk 2C to find such a fit, partner of course relpies 2D ....and then I've nowhere to go.
Tell me, what can I do ?
Yours Ed Spinning
Dear Ed,
Passing 1NT with flat hands up with less than 10 points is always the right thing to do. By going with the field you should always be getting near average ( par ) scores. If you need to generate a swing result, then the 2C enquiry might well land you in a better contract. However, I don't experience such problems because my partner and I play 5-card majors. So in a hand which contains one or both 4 card majors we are obliged to open a prepared 1C. This is alerted as natural, or a flat hand with at least 2 clubs, but one with at least one 4-card major. Such a system might well allow you to sign off in 1NT or 2H/S without too much grief. The days of 1NT having a mildly pre-emptive impact have gone, given the range of sophisticated conventions to counter such a bid.
Yours always in ascendency, Rebecca Rood
  • My God, He's Going To Trump !.................................Stan Wellback
  • Playing Bridge On A Tight Budget..............................Penny Pinching
  • Do I Fancy A Game ?.................................................G. Y. Knott
  • Howcome She's Partnering A Clown Like You ?..........Jay Maiker
  • New To Gay Bridge ?..................................................L. O. Saylor
  • Yes, I'm A Grandmaster, But Not At Bridge................Jess Player
  • That's it....Someone Else Can Take Over As Captain....Ike Witt
  • Closing In On Victory : The Final Push.......................Dee Day
  • My Partner's Histrionics Really Shook Me Up.............Judd Herring
  • They Only Pick Me Because Of My Wheels..................Van Driver

Thursday, 15 July 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.......................
  • Stuffing : a term which either means (1) useful intermediate cards in your longish suits such as 9's and 10's, or (2) what you knock out of your partner in order to off-load your pent-up anger and frustration
  • Trick : what you like to play on your opponents, using one of many deceptive ploys that help make the game so maliciously exciting
  • Pard : supposedly a slang term for partner, but the word was first heard when a geriatric bridge player with an acute speech defect attempted to say " partner " while sucking a humbug. For obvious reasons the new pronunciation took on, becoming very popular with players renown for monosyllabic vocalisations.
  • Force : a term which has multiple meanings in bridge, two of the foremost being ( 1) something that you hope " may be with you " as you strive for galactic tops and universal success, and ( 2 ) the subsequent reputation you hope to attain as a result of your publicised successes, namely " a force to be reckoned with "
  • Closed hand : a politically correct euphemism for " fist "
  • Powerhouse : a hand, usually the closed one, which comes across the table with so much force that victims' teeth are often seen flying in all directions
  • Reverse : the direction in which a player's body is rocked back after being hit full on with a powerhouse hand

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The other day I played against a person, well renown for castigating opponents who make overly quick passes, or passes after long lengthy hesitations. He insists that all bids should be made in even tempo, otherwise it is likely that unauthorised information may have been communicated to partner. In his view " tempo deviations " are a total no-no.
Fair enough.......but during one auction at our table the bidding went as follows. 1S on my right. Holding xx....AQxx...Qxx.....AKxx ( non-vulnerable ) I felt a double was well in order....a bid which promised partner a 4-card heart suit. The preacher on my left thought long and hard before making " an awkward pass ", commenting on the way " I am aware of the time I have taken ". My partner bid 2C, and my RHO rebid his spade suit. I raised my partner to 3C. Surprise....surprise....the preacher now entered the bidding with 3S. 4C from partner. 4S from my RHO. But after 2 passes, my partner convinced 4S was making bid on to 5C. Whack ! And 3 more passes ended the auction.
The outcome was an inevitable 2 off for minus 300 and a wretched score for us.
But when I casually commented about this long hesitation and its possible implications......did I get it in the neck.
" Are you suggesting that my partner obtained unauthorised information ? How could you suggest such a thing ? Do you want to call the TD ? " ( " No ", I replied )
" Well, do you wish to retract your comment, and with it your insinuations ? " ( " No ", I replied )
At this point of the interrogation, I politely suggested that he might be best advised to write a letter of complaint about me to the committee ( another thing he is well renown for ).
So now, after careful reflection, I cannot help but arrive at these conclusions :
- the long think pass surely communicated a problem hand, which would be very different from any associated with a simple pass
- the subsequent raise of 2S to 3S must have indicated some spade support and an outside trick somewhere
- the double of 5C if not based on 3 certain quick tricks might well be influenced by the preacher's announcement that he did have something in the way of assistance
- was it ethical for the preacher's partner to double in such circumstances ?
I therefore need a reader or two to offer their views and opinions on this matter. Because I only feel certain about one thing : top class players should always practice what they preach.
When others fail in their quest to see 3NT come home, who else but Johnny is the one to show these losers where they all went wrong. The bidding was fairly straightforward : 1H, 1S, 2D, 3NT by Johnny sitting South. A canny West elected to lead a spade, and dummy came down with KJx....K98xx.....KQ98....10x. Johhny's hand was AQxx....10x....J10x.....AQx.
Taking the triick in dummy with the King, he then played on diamonds in order to dislodge the Ace, which was unfortunately on his right. Eight tricks were always there with 4S, 3D and the Ace of clubs. Anyway, East was up to the task and switched to a club. Johnny ducked and West hopped up with the jack. Now the canny defender played the Queen of hearts........... DECISION TIME ? Unlike a whole bunch of other declarers who were involved in a similar sequence of play, Johnny refused to cover. If he had, dummy's king of hearts would have been taken by East's Ace, only for another club to come back through declarer's AQ. With the king of clubs off-side, the defence would triumph with 2C, 2H and 1D.
However, because the maestro had foreseen all this......the duck proved to be the winning play. West was fixed. If he continued with the jack of hearts, the king would fetch the Ace, but dummy's hearts would now be set up.....and a club switch would be of no consequence. Even if West plays a low heart, East would still be obliged to play the Ace.
Similarly a club continuation by West would still give declarer 9 tricks, without having to rely on one from hearts. By ducking Johnny had come up trumps and smelling of roses. What a man.....what a player.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Last week Johnny Supremo pulled off a routine 4H contract, which many other declarers failed to do. And all that Johnny did was to take out some extra insurance on the play. On the queen of clubs lead, dummy came down with 9876......K54......AJ843....K, opposite declarer's K10.....A98732.....K92....A6
On most tables, wayward declarers took the trick in dummy with the club King, playing out King/Ace of hearts to get the relatively bad news of a 3-1 trump break......but then at trick 4, they all went for the diamond finesse after playing the King of diamonds first from their own hand. Clearly if the finesse worked with diamonds breaking 3-2, the 4th diamond could then dispose of 10 of spades and pull the outstanding queen of trumps at the same time. Eleven tricks would be there courtesy of 2C, 4D, 2 top hearts, and 3 ruffs.
However, the diamond finesse failed.....and so defenders patiently waited for their 4 tricks instead ( 1H, 1D, and 2 spades ). But not trick 2, he tackled spades next by leading up to the King in hand. Losing to Ace on his left, the astute defender now elected to play a trump ( taken by Johnny in hand with the Ace ). Again Johnny played on spades................ the 10 losing to his LHO's queen, who promptly played another trump, which Johnny casually ducked. Now the RHO continued with a 3rd round of trumps to clear the last one from dummy. Once in dummy with the heart King, Johnny's foresight was now to be rewarded........ because, when the 3rd round of spades was played the all important jack popped out just as Johnny had hoped. This of course was immediately ruffed. So with a diamond entry still intact in dummy, Johnny was able to get over there to dispose of a losing diamond in hand on the established 9 of spades . The contract was therefore made by taking 2 top hearts, 2 diamonds, 2 clubs, 1 spade, and 3 ruffs. Obviously, if the spades didn't behave, the maestro could still fll back on the diamond finesse.

Monday, 12 July 2010

( Up before the Sheffield Crown Court judge, Bigot-Johnson and his 3 accomplices were all facing charges, in relation to offences committed under The Countryside Protection of Wild Animals Act 1979. Bigot of course elected to represent himself, and to act on behalf of the others as their defence lawyer. A short extract from the trial's transcript can be seen below. )
Prosecution counsel ( PC ) : Jury members, these four men that stand before you in the dock are all guilty as hell of illegal coursing, hunting and poaching, not to mention trespass to land by means of forced entry.
B-J : This is proposterous......we're bloody bridge players for God's sake !
PC : Allow me to continue.....please...
B-J : If you must......
PC : So members of the jury.....I want to paint you this picture. It's a warm but misty Sunday morning....and a procession of expensive, high performance cars wends its way down a country lane en route to a day of " sport ". There's a Jaguar and Mercedes in this convoy, flanked by two rather large white Transit vans.
This is run up to a day of carnage, but not one in the traditional sense. The quarry isn't pheasant or partridge. Indeed, none of these well-off drivers are wearing red coats in the search of a fox. Instead, they are all set on invading the Walnut Tree Allotment Society BC club hut, ready to threaten anyone who tries to stop them gaining entry to the big prize money event that was scheduled to take place that day.
B-J : But what's all this got to do with the Countryside Protection of Wild Life Act ?
PC : You might well ask that question.....
B-J : please give an answer
PC : Tell me Bigot....when you go to a minor event with three hired bridge professionals simply to " poach " the prize money on do you refer to the other competitors present ?
B-J : RABBITS......of course
PC : And how do you refer to the simple task of taking these inferior players to the cleaners ?
PC : My point exactly ! You and your fellow assassins saw this sporting occasion as one of bunny bashing....a simple and straightforward rabbit hunting exercise. And because this kind of sport is strictly forbidden under current legislation, your activities can only be described as cruel and barbaric. Thankfully, we now live in an animal loving, caring and civilised society which will not tolerate this type of behaviour. Moreover, you forced your way into this event, trespassing on land in the process, as maverick pot hunters of the worst kind. And what's worst is your blood lust for inflicting pain, distress and serious injury to all those defenceless rabbits you encountered.
In addition to all this carnage.....your activities in these rural back-waters of the bridge world are responsible for driving down an already dwindling rabbit population in these areas. Membership of such buck-teeth, fluffy-tailed, big-eared losers has fallen to all time lows. Groups such as the RSPCA and The League Against Cruel Sports are up in arms over these offences..........and by uniting with these beseiged rural bridge clubs, they have managed to produce a massive dossier on all your poaching and rabbit hunting exploits.
B-J : Good grief....
PC : So what now pray is your answer Bigot Johnson to that ?
B-J : .....Bugger.......

Sunday, 11 July 2010

BRIDGE BOOKS SELLING WELL IN VENEZUELA............ ( Research by Pun )
  • Safe Bidding Means Cautious Bidding...................................Ginger Leigh
  • How I Was Drummed Out Of My Own Club............................Tom Thoms
  • That Was The Worst Team Performance Ever........................Deb Hackle
  • Bridge Gives Me The Blues..................................................Maddy Sunne
  • How My Partner Balls-ed Up The Play..................................Jenny Taylor
  • Bridge Incidents That Got Out Of Control...............................May Hemm
  • When Partners Go Down I Have To Scream...........................Fidel Sticks
  • There's One Opponent Who Always Bites My Head Off..........Ginger Bradman
  • The Art Of Piercing Good Defence........................................Lance Singh
  • Partner, We Peaked Too Soon.................................................Ben Neviss

Saturday, 10 July 2010

FIND ME A GOOD PARTNER PLEASE !.................. ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
Partners are usually the topic of umpteen bridge jokes.......the perfect scapegoat to take all the blame when things go wrong. Partners are there to take all the flak......they are there to be whipped, and shot at sitting ducks at a fairground arcade. Partners are there to be insulted as evidenced by this collection of humorous snipes :
  • When my partner goes to a mind reader, he's only charged half-price
  • I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can never get my partner to go swimming
  • The difference between my partner and a car battery is that the latter does have a positive side
  • I always forgive my partner for his mistakes.....thinking is unfamiliar territory to him
  • I am quite fair to all my partners.....I treat them all equally like idiots
  • You must excuse my bridge partner.....he fell seriously ill a few years ago, which rendered him totally annoying
  • I only play bridge to punish my partner
  • You are lucky to have me as your partner since I am not as judgemental as all those obnoxious, mealy-mouthed, censorious, self-righteous toss pots you've previously played with

Yet bridge should be all about developing good relationships with partners based on mutual respect, tolerance, and forgiveness. Moreover, if you ask someone to be your partner ( or accept an invitation to be theirs ), then there appears to be an irrefutable argument that you should be " accepting " of the consequences. If you make your own bed then you must lie it without complaint. By choosing to carry on in regular partnerships, you are effectively saying " I am happy with your overall game partner, and I accept your failings as I duly acknowledge my own ".

We must all strive to keep the " competitive drive " in perspective, and in balance with our need to enjoy the game and our partners' company. Winning at bridge should never become a matter of life or death......despite the fact that some will tell you it's even more important than that ! Bridge is just a card game which offers the best mental challenge in the world, and wonderful opportunities to meet great people and make new friends.

A partner should not be someone who, in your jaundiced view, is only there to make your life miserable. A partner should be someone you can share a laugh with over mishaps and misfortunes at the table. Therefore, no one needs to be put under any pressure whatsoever to explain or justify decisions, or to make endless apologies. These can then be offered freely without fear of condemnation or retribution. The quest for perfection is in my view a path to self-inflicted misery and torture. If things have to be said then keep the banter friendly, using gentle humour, euphemisms, and polite observations wherever possible.

So if you fit this bill of an ideal partner, please don't hesitate to give me a call if you are in Sheffield looking for a game...................I need a good partner......... far more than a good player with a bad temperament !

Friday, 9 July 2010


Strange as it may seem, tennis and bridge have quite a few things in common, which seem to suggest a real connection. For instance....

  • - Players love getting Aces
  • - Winning games means winning matches
  • - It's safer to take risks at love all
  • - Top players tend to ignore doubles
  • - Grand slams are the ultimate goal
  • - Securing priceless match points almost guarantees success
  • - Taking the odd wild swing might well net a great result

Thursday, 8 July 2010

USING POKER KNOW HOW TO PLAY BETTER BRIDGE......... ( A book review by Bridgemeister Gibson on Mike Cappelletti's " 100 Bridge Problems " )
Poker is made up of several key elements, and one of the biggest is the psychological component. Indeed, there are many aspects of poker that are directly applicable to bridge. With so many concepts and strategies common to both, it is easy to see why top class bridge players have become equally skilled at poker....and vice versa. Therefore it is not surprising to see poker-type tactics skilfully employed at the bridge table.
Poker players know their odds, the probabilities, and have that ability to think and judge what is the best action to take in any given situation. By weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents, they can often hit upon the optimum strategy. They will take calculated risks and make occasional speculative moves, departing from their normal game plan. These decisions may be seen as inspired when they come off, or acts of temporary madness if they don't......but top class players always look beyond any single negative result. They speculate to accumulate.
In bridge, Mark argues, one needs to speculate heavily when the odds are on your side, and where you can win by employing a strategy that provides several different winning possibilities. Thus, it is not really is more like sound and sensible investment.
One section of his book I found most interesting was on bluffing. He considers occasional psyches as a valuable and effective weapon in the reserve arsenals of most experts. These bids were used to" create an illusion of strength " or to " conceal weakness "......not to mention alerting partner towards a defensive lead that could be hugely beneficial. Many other types of bluff involve bids that are made later on in the auctions promising stops and/or controls which didn't exist. Gratuitous and lead inhibiting bids came into this category. The tactics of course are the same : to confuse the opponents into making incorrect choices, or to steer them away from finding the winning lines of play.
As for opening bids or overcalls Mike considers that a shrewd player will restrict these bluffs ( psyches ) to situations where in 3rd position, two passes have already hit the table. The second requirement is that the hand should have less than 8 HCPs.....thus the opponents are well placed to have game on, or at least have an easy part-score. Finally, he should also have an Ace or a King to three in suit bid. Therefore, if partner raises the bid the contract should be somewhat playable, an if partner leads this suit, at least he has one decent card there. Psyching on singletons and voids do not make good sense.
Mike does go on to admit that after one incident when an opponent screamed for the director bitterly complaining " This man overcalled on a 3 card suit " , the TD politely warned him that he should put " occasional psyches " on his convention card. Mike however was very quick and keen to point out the comment was already there.
The book itself is a joy to read and the bidding problems that readers are asked to ponder over are excellent. Moreover, many of the hands that are illustrated come with excellent analysis, insight and advice....clearly flagging up where poker tactics can be cleverly and gainfully employed by the bridge player.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

  • Quick tricks are freely and readily available
  • There's no shame in losing your honour
  • Entry problems can often be resolved
  • There's no risk of going blind if you play with yourself
  • Being caught in the act is no big deal
  • Having a same-sex partner doesn't arouse homophobic suspicions
  • Partners attach more value to your age and experience ( over raw enthusiasm )
  • It's OK to play bridge in public places
  • Having many partners is perfectly acceptable
  • Bridge cartoons, jokes and calendars never cause offence

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

  • I'm Damn Sure I've Played This Hand Before...............Dave Javu
  • I'm Just Not Making Any Progress At All....................Stan Dinstil
  • I Let The Team Down Really Badly..............................Gaven Tusoon
  • What Partner, You're Going To Defy Your Captain......Sonya Honehead
  • What Half Baked System Do You Call That ..................Peter Bred
  • I Always Offer My Opponents A Drink.........................Mickey Finn
  • I Have Never Made A Dishonest Bid In My Life.............Lily White
  • I Talk A Good Game But I Play Crap............................Anne T. Nomie

Monday, 5 July 2010

Of all the most useless conventions ever devised, GERBER has to one of the top 5. Not once in 21 years have I ever used the bloody thing ( and that goes for all my partners as well ). So what possessed me to have kept it on my convention card I do not know. But not now.....because I have come up with a far superior version, which as its inventor I call BIGOT-JOHNSON'S MODIFIED GERBER.
As I see it a " good " convention is one that conveys a lot of useful and relevant information, which comes into play on mumerous occasions. The Gerber 4C, which simply asks for the number of Aces held is both basic and crude. What the enquirer really wants to know is " What Aces ? "
So I have devised a far superior 4C enquiry bid, which I have recently used with great success. Ideally, it works best when the enquirer holds two Aces, but a void in another suit.....or is missing two Aces of the same colour. In some ways it is akin to the way RKCB has superceded ordinary Blackwood ( another naff out-dated and out-moded convention ). My modified Gerber operates as follows :
4C is an enquiry for RED ACES only replies being:
- 4D I have the Ace of Diamonds
- 4H I have the Ace Of Hearts
- 4S None
- 4NT Both
4D is an enquiry for BLACK ACES only replies being :
- 4H I have the Ace of Clubs
- 4S I have the Ace of Spades
- 4NT None
- 5C Both
( Nb. 1. Over any of the 4C replies, players can use 5C as an enquiry for RED KINGS using similar responses, and 5D as an enquiry for BLACK KINGS.
2. Over just 3 of the 4D replies, players can use 5C/5D enquiry bids as indicated above. However over the 5C response one can still use 5D as an enquiry for BLACK KINGS but 5H becomes the enquiry for RED KINGS. Reponses are : 5S = one red king, 5 NT = none, 6C both. )
So yes, I agree this modified Gerber can not necessarily cater for all hands, discovering every possible Ace/King holding in partner's hand....and the 4D-5C-5H-5S sequence doesn't flag up which red king it is......but there are hundreds of slam going hands that would really benefit from such an informative convention as mine. Remember, you still have RKCB in reserve. plus the usual grand slam forcing bids at your disposal. Why just the other day I was dealt AKQJxxx.....KQxx.....AQ....void, and partner held 10x.....Axx....Kxxx....Jxxx
My modified Gerber cracked 7S with both confidence and ease.
2S ( strong ) : 3D ( positive ) : 4C ( enquiry ) : 4H ( heart Ace ) : 5C ( enquiry ): 5D ( diamond King ) : 7S
I wasn't interested in the Ace of clubs. Moreover if partner only holds Ax of hearts, a heart ruff may easily be available, plus a heart discard on dummy's known top diamond.
( Footnote : So I would certainly welcome some constructive criticism and/or comment on my Modified Gerber, especially if there is scope for refinement or improvement. But first why not give it a go, because if like me you had blindly persisted with ordinary Gerber on your convention card, then the time has now come to open your eyes....and adopt an open mind about this new revolutionary slam-seeking gadget. )

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Yes folks, I have in my possession a rare and priceless 16th century copy of the Stratford Daily Gazette, which clearly proves that Shakespeare, long before establishing himself as a playwright, started off writing short articles as the local bridge correspondent. So here, for the world at large, is the only piece of work like it in existence , which all Shakespearean scholars and historians will relish:
MID-SESSION NIGHTMARE.............. ( By William Shakespeare )
South consumed by gross intolerance and suffocating impatience finally broke silence : " is you Sir to bid...nay , I beseech you Sir to make your prediction, and unfold the secrets of your hand, before I am forced to commit unspeakable acts of butchery. Time is seeping away.....and you are the cursed rival of my watch. Bid quickly and make haste with this auction ".
East sensed daggers were being aimed his way, but was truly thankful they were coming from South's menacing eyes and not his hands. With false bravado, he loudly retorted: " You doth protest too much, methinks....but you shall wait no more. The gods have dealt me an awkward hand, but one which I trust will put you, thy vile and venomous enemy, in mortal danger of a wretched score. So heed this 4H opening of mine and be done with you ".
This reply only goaded the gloating South to snarl back : " I charge thee with a double for I too am a man blessed with cards of such awesome power, I swear the devil himself has ordained me to inflict upon you a hefty punishment.....which befits your brazen arrogance and wayward bidding ".
West's ashen, and woefully pale, face suggested little assistance for his partner. either in the way of top honour cards or trump support. And so the bidding move swiftly back to East. Questions filled his troubled mine : " I have been dealt a heavenly hand, but my odious opponent is a known master of the cards. But does not his double foretell of a cruel and vicious distribution destined to deliver me into an odious pit of shame and sorrow ? Yet it may be nothing more than a fantasy on South's part ? This dreaded double doth make me wonder if 5 clubs might just have a better play.....a safer haven into which I can retreat. What sore decision must I take ? If bridge be the love of fools then I must bid on. " Indeed, South's imperious double had clearly wounded East's fragile confidence, but having been gifted this warning of impending doom he seized upon an bid blessed with inspiration and imagination: " Four no trumps ! " That it should come to this was not a random act of madness, but a bid which could have been equally forged on the rock of reason and logic.
Again, South sensed blood, and the prospect of unbridled carnage resulted in a second double, bellowed loud for all and sundry to hear. West, acutely aware of his partner's two suited hand ( clubs being the other ) had no where to go, and was forced to pass. North did likewise, but East, however, remained unmoved......seeing himself as a serpent waiting beneath an innocent flower. If picked by his enemy, this was going to be his last mortal act . So in a final gesture of calculated defiance, East boldly replied : " Redouble..... for I say to you I'd rather go down as a swashbuckling hero than a cringing coward. Doth thou really take me for a fool who would put himself in such perilous circumstance, choosing to play in some grotesquely absurd contract ?....I think not Thane of all misjudgement ! Indeed, I pray that you do not further lose your sovereignty of reason by falling victim to moments of defensive madness. Your suffering must result solely from the pained knowledge that this contract was cold from the start.....". And on those words the auction ended.
Behold then, the hand on which South's Mid-session Nightmare unfolded :
West : 10xxxx......(void ).......K1098xx....Kx
East : ( void ) .....AKxxxxx...Q...........Axxxx
South : AK....QJ1098....AJ......98xx
North : QJxxxx.....x.......xxxx.....QJ
( Analysis : no matter what South leads, East will eventually get in with a top heart or club, after which the diamond queen will be played. If South elects to duck it, East will overtake it in dummy to then drive out the Ace. The club King of course allows East to gain re-entry to dummy to run off 4 remaining diamonds. All in all South can only make 2 top spades and the Ace of diamonds. East will score 5 diamonds, 3 clubs, and 2H to secure the contract.........all down to the fortuitous layout of the cards. 4H of course stood no chance whatsoever with 4 certain winners in South's hand. )

Friday, 2 July 2010

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY..........................................
  • Tournament : a highly competitive event where noble players go to joust with their peers
  • Hindsight : a wonderful skill which most mediocre and poor players possess, seemingly able to determine the correct way to have made the contract.....but only after going down in the actual play
  • High low : the usual sequence of emotions experienced by nearly all duplicate players : full of confidence as they arrive at the club, but full of woe as they leave
  • Direct raise : a sudden bulging movement, an over-excited player might experience in the groin area of his trousers, often causing huge embarrassment to both himself and his provocative female partner
  • Positional holding : something which needs to be to be achieved before any entry attempt can be made
  • Bottom line : the place on the results sheet where you expect to see your name
  • West side story : a fictional account of an incident given to the TD, which totally contradicts the version given by either North or South
  • Partnership understanding : a feat rarely achieved, except for a mutual acknowledgement that the player who fouled up the most is destined to get a right good rollocking from the other

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Peter Pan Syndrome has been described as a psychological pseudo-disorder. Although it occasionally affects pop stars in a real big way ( such as Michael Jackson ), bridge players from all over the world have been diagnosed with this disorder for years. Indeed, whenever they walk into a bridge venue, they immediately succumb to flights of fancy of the most monstrous kind.
Basically, the syndrome is characterised by their noticeable immaturity. Victims often come across as very narcissistic. They might also display characteristics of rebelliousness, pottering about, anger, dependency, and manipulativeness. Moreover, they have this belief that there are beyond the game's laws and ethically codes of conduct. Add to this their need to be constantly mothered, and wanting to remain like the Jungian archetype of Puer Aetemus ( the eternal boy ), PPS victims are in real need of help.
In my experience, which I might add is vast, bridge players with this condition develop a personality that veers towards an exaggerated stereo-type of boastful and carefree boys. They will always be quick to point out how great they are, even when such claims are questionable ( such as congratulating themselves of seeing home slams, when in fact it was their partners' brilliant bids that got them there ).
These afflicted players have a nonchalant devil-may-care-attitude, and are fearlessly cocky when it comes to putting themselves ( and their partners ) in danger. Many have been known to adopt " a blissful unawareness of the tragedy of hugely damaging penalty doubles ". Their automatic reply is always " if you never go for the odd 1100 or 1400, then you'll never bid those match winning games and slams ". Part of that nonchalant attitude towards danger is often seen when they opt to make weak-two bids on zero HCPs, or when they stick in a vulnerable 3-level pre-emptive bid on utter filth with nothing more than a 5 card suit. Often they will put their necks on the chopping block in the fanciful belief that their axe-wielding opponents will be looking the other way.
However, the most obvious giveaway is their penchant for wearing something green and/or pointed shoes, but outbursts of nastiness and selfish behaviour can also reveal their condition. Moreover, they can display the qualities of both parasites and petulant control freaks. Their pomposity and highly judgemental behavioural traits are such that should they ever be crossed or challenged, they might well fly off in a huff.
As yet all known treatments, therapies and thrashings have yet to produce any positive results in moving them forward into the realms of reality and manhood. Their world of bridge is a Neverland of jolly boys' outings, mischievousness, and swashbuckling adventures.