Tuesday, 30 November 2010

" Now let me get this straight.....you can't for the devil understand why your partner keeps calling you a clown...."

Monday, 29 November 2010

  • Can't Play Tonight, My Wife's Put Her Foot Down..........Erin Dawes
  • This Game Is Going To Be The Death Of Me...................Sue E. Cydell
  • I Know Why Opponents Look At You Funny ?..............Ulrika Yurin
  • After A Disastrous Start, I Just Lost Interest...............Gavin Tousoon
  • You Asking Me... To Take Over The Captaincy !...........Ira Fuse
  • Best We Let Him Have This Last Rubber.......................Casey Cumms
  • A Revised Dress Code For All Bridge Players................Kim Ono
  • As A Top Player, I Like To Look The Part......................Natalie Drest
  • The Lady Over There Is Looking For A Game....... ........Al Asker
  • I Hate Players Who Preach From Above.......................Paul Pitt

Sunday, 28 November 2010

As Bobby Wolff quite rightly said : " Slow play should not disrupt the game. Slow play should be a violation of bridge laws. TDs should be given the power to adjust the scores against slow players ".
Well, in my opinion, slow players are nothing more than low-down cheating dogs. They cheat all the other players at the table out of time they were ( or should be ) entitled to. Whatever is the allotted time to complete a set of boards, each pair is entitled to their 5o% of it....... and no more. But slow players can consume 50% of the total time allowed just for themselves, showing no damn consideration for any one else.
Indeed, slow players can turn an exciting game of bridge into the boring equivalent of clock patience. These killjoys would surely to God test the patience of Job. But what really causes me to flip my lid, lose my rag, get my gander up, blow a gasket and completely lose it.....is when these buggers behave in the following way. First, having lost consciousness by going into the think tank, they become oblivious to all the agitation and fidgeting that is going on around them. I've seen the others shifting around on their seats with the most pained facial expressions, as if they were suffering paroxysms of extreme haemorrhoidal discomfort. Some fidget around as if some unseen hand is squeezing their private parts. But then, a moment of relief as consciousness returns. Suddenly, the living dead begin to show signs of life ........as a slowly emerging card appears to have been selected. Alas no. That brief fleeting moment of expectation and joy is completely dashed. Rigor mortis sets in again, as they stop to reflect for a few seconds, only to return the card from where it came. This cycle of card lifting and replacing can go on indefinitely. Sometimes to break the monotony, the playing cards will be repeatly pushed together, and re-fanned in an attempt to see something different, or to re-visit the hand with perhaps a new devastating insight.
These dithering, indecisive, hesitant, confused, bemused, dilatory, procrastinating types can lose all sense of time. Their behaviour is no different to the snooker player or golfer, who will forever hover and circle around the green looking at all the angles, options, possibilities and likely outcomes.....before making a choice. When this happens, the true meaning of boredom becomes apparent, as eyelids begin to turn into lead weights. One's will to live simply ebbs away, as do the seconds on the clock.
Yet....what are TDs doing about this problem ? Sod all..... in my experience. They just leave it to the other 3 players to make up lost time, which requires them to rush their bids and play of the cards. This they do as a gesture of goodwill to the rest of the field. If bridge authorities are really committed to tackling this problem, then non-playing TDs must take on the role of " PACE MANAGERS ". This will require them to observe, and record timings, of anyone who has been flagged up as a sinner. Adjusted scores can be awarded in favour of those damaged by their excessive procrastinations. Ultimately, slow players should be disciplined by compulsory attendance to " PACE MANAGEMENT CLASSES ". These will include speed play tests which must to be passed successfully, before allowing any attendee back into the fold of duplicate and tournament bridge.
Slow players without doubt are the main reason why the game is losing its appeal. The endless waiting..... can anything be more infuriating ? Exciting bridge has to be bridge in the fast line, where the fear of taking risks and making mistakes turns the whole experience into a white-knuckle ride.
And should I ever encounter again the misfortune of partnering a slow player, I will insist he/she strictly adheres to this all important maxim : " Since you are far more than likely than me..... to go down in contracts....... then for heaven's sake, just get them over with quickly ! This will give me more time to play mine. "

Saturday, 27 November 2010

" I guess he should have taken his declarer play more seriously when they said they were cracking down on slow play "
" Now, let me get this straight....having survived years of constant criticism and abuse at your local club, you've become so thick skinned......that members simply perceive you as a rhino......"
This disorder is a very unusual one, in that it affects only a small number of bridge players, who have over the years been harangued, criticised, chastised, slagged off, abused, battered and bullied by their intolerant, over-bearing partners. Deluged with insults, barbed comments, pointed sarcasm, and cutting remarks, these players don't go the same way as the majority. They do not end up suffereing from nervous breakdowns, anxiety and panic attacks, shattered egos and suicidal thoughts. They simply succumb to a disorder known as rhinoserus hidermia.
This is, in essence, a " psychological barrier " that they put up, in order to ward off any repeated attacks of verbal abuse. It is a defence mechanism based on newly acquired auditory skills. Victims of this condition develop a selective hearing ability. When necessary they can switch off to anything what they don't want to hear. Moreover, they can completely ignore what has been said, by automatically switching off the mental processing function, which of course involves the interpretation of meaning from any spoken words . Insults amazingly bounce off them. Nothing penetrates this psychological barrier, that now encompasses them like a layer of thick armour-plated skin. Their previously shattered egos can now undergo the process of rebuilding, inside their new wonderfully protective shells.
But what makes this disorder really strange....... is that victims never choose to have it dealt with or treated.

Friday, 26 November 2010

JOHNNY SUPREMO'S MAGICAL MASTERCLASS.............. Well, never one for resisting comfortable 3NT contracts, I received a rather awkward the queen of clubs lead from West, my LHO.
Dummy came down with what he had promised : Qxx.....Jxx.....Axxx.....xxx, but my hand was a rather big and chunky AJxx.....AK9.....KQJx....A10.
At the table East overtook the queen with the king. I naturally ducked, but was forced to win the club contination. The play of the clubs clearly suggested that East started out with the king doubleton with West holding six to the queen-jack. With only 8 tricks in sight a ninth had to come from spades, but what if the King was off-side? So it made sense to me to run off 4 top diamonds ending in dummy to see what discards the opposition were making. West discarded two clubs while East pitched a spade.
My thinking now went as follows : " West surely cannnot have the king of spades because otherwise he would hold onto all his established clubs, pitching no doubt 2 hearts instead. Indeed, it is very unlikely that West holds the queen of hearts, because if he did then he would be looking to pitch useless spades away. But does his play suggest that he holds both ? The fact remains that West has only got 5 cards in the majors, whereas East has 8. The odds therefore favour East to hold one of the honour cards, and even more likely to hold both. "
So working on this last assumption that East held both major honours, I took the spade discard to also support this view. When a player holds 4 to the king in one major, and 4 to the queen in another, it is usually safer to throw from the suit head by the king ( which is what he did ). At trick 7, I finessed the jack of spades successfully. Then I cashed the Ace of spades, before throwing East in with King. With only hearts left in his hand, I allowed the low heart return to run round to dummy's jack, taking the last 3 tricks with the my AK of hearts and my remaining spade. Plus 460 for a galactic top. Kibitzers were applauding. The opponents just sat there stunned silence.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The other day I managed to scramble home 3NT, where other pairs were going off 1 in 4H. I quickly realised that there might be real difficulties with communications, so this contract needed great care indeed.
My LHO opponent had opened 1NT on AKx....xx....KJ9xx.... Qxx. Partner overcalled 2H vulnerable. and I went straight to 3NT.
On a diamond lead dummy came down with xx....AQ108xx.....Q10x.....Kx. My hand was a flattish QJ98......9x.........Axxx.....Axx. And so when the diamond 10 from dummy held the trick, I thought I was home and dry, providing one of the heart honours was sitting on my left. At trick 2, I decided the spade finesse of the 10 was a necessary risk I had to take, because I could not afford to open up the club suit. Again luck was with me when my LHO took the trick with the spade king, only to fire back another diamond ( RHO showing out ), which I was obliged to take with the queen in dummy. So I exited dummy with another spade, which again was taken by my LHO with the Ace. Back came a third diamond which I took in hand with my Ace. Score 3:2
Now came the moment of truth when I ran the 9 of hearts. Whoops.....RHO shot in with the jack, and correctly switched to the jack of clubs, which I took with the Ace. Then came my two established spades, discarding 2 hearts from dummy. Score 6:3 Now, for a second time I took the heart finesse on only to see the 10 lose to the King. But all my RHO could do was exit with a club to dummy's King enabling me to run off 2 heart winners to see the contract home. ( 3D, 2C, 2S, and 2H ).
Now the two questions I want to ask are :
  1. Can the defence do better after the initial diamond lead ?
  2. Can the contract still be made against a different defence ?

( RHO's hand was 10xxx....KJx.....x......J109xx )

  • Contract : what players enter into in order to score
  • Quick tricks : what most contracts tend to be all about
  • Rule of 7 : the maximum time ( in minutes ) you've got to see out a contract
  • Principle of Preparedness : Putting in some practice with a rubber or two
  • Pair ( of bullets ) : Something all trick hungry players like to get hold of
  • Bust : a term used to describe any big pair
  • Score : the inevitable outcome of a successful contract
  • Stiff : an essential requirement to engineer a quick trick
  • Length : another essential feature if a lay down contract is sought after
  • Lay down : the recommended position for missionary-minded bridge players
  • Control : something that enables a player to take his tricks in less of a rush
  • Fast arrival : what all over-excited players succumb to if short on control

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

  • Upsurge in attendance leads to clubs shutting their doors to late arrivals
  • Slow players eager to join " Fast Play" classes
  • Rude and offensive top flight players severely disciplined by club committees
  • Top player watches partner go off in a rigid slam and laughs about it
  • Bridge governing bodies drastically reduce the number of ladder rankings
  • Green/gold points only given out now to players who actually win competitions
  • Bigot-Johnson's blog receives an award for its contribution to bridge literature
  • Players learn how to enjoy bridge despite never winning
  • Club committees finally resolve the distinction between free life membership and honorary life membership
  • Rubber bridge for money replaces duplicate bridge, as governments relax gaming laws even further
  • Top players freely volunteer their time to act as mentors and partners for improving beginners
  • Ladies triumph over men in all competitions to complete an historic whitewash
  • Club members shake off apathy, getting actively involved in helping the club
  • Top player owns up to making a mistake
  • Bigot-Johnson's posts are deluged with enthusiastic comments and generous compliments
  • TDs become redundant as players resort to resolving table disputes themselves, in a friendly and amicable way
  • Club membership applications reach unprecedented levels, as bridge governing bodies find ways of making the game far more appealing
  • Selectors for club, county, and international teams now place greater emphasis on recent performances and current form ( than on past reputation and favouritism )
  • Cheating in bridge is finally eradicated
  • All bridge players take up therapy in a last-ditch attempt to come out of " self-denial "
When it comes to being fickle, bridge players are in a league of their own. Partners are rejected, cast aside and abandoned willy nilly by those who believe that their failure to achieve is purely down to the person sitting directly opposite. These blame shifting players cling desperately to the belief that there are better partners out there, compared to the current one who is just about to receive his/her marching orders. However, what these dissatisfied players don't realise is that they are all victims of The Greener Grass Syndrome.
This is a psychological disorder which causes the sufferer to constantly keep climbing up those proverbial hills looking for greener grass on the other side. New partners who can offer lush and bountiful resources to feed their hunger for success. Partners who are likely to do them more good than harm. However, it is uncertainty and curiosity which play a big part in the development of the greener grass syndrome. Often a victim becomes increasingly uncertain about whether the current partner is best for him, only for his natural curiosity to lock in as to whether there are better alternatives out there. These two factors constantly gnaw away with ever increasing intensity.
Tragically, the quest for seeking out the perfect partner saps the victim's energy and attention, to such extent that their game begins to suffer. This creates the inevitable cycle of disadvantage, as poor results stiffen their resolve to blame partner, and find another. Sadly, for all those with this disorder , they will never recognise that they might have found the ideal partner. Indeed, their constant failure to put as much energy and effort into developing a perfect relationship and partnership understanding means the quest goes on indefinitely, as opportunity after opportunity goes begging.
BRIDGE BOOKS YOU REALLY NEED TO READ.......... ( Or so says Pun )
  • Chicago Bridge........................................................Wendy Sitty
  • I Hear What You're Saying, Partner.........................Loudon Clear
  • Double And Double Again.......................................Martin Gale
  • Shafting Your Opponents Good And Proper............Penny T. Carding
  • Then Out Of the Blue He Trumped My Ace...............Oliver Sudden
  • Sorry I'm Late Partner, Car Broke Down..................Randy Hoelway
  • Outdoor Bridge.......................................................Alf Rescoe
  • Pull Yourself Together, Partner..............................Annette Curtain
  • When I See Cheating, I Feel Sick Inside...................Tommy Aiken
  • Let's Spin A Coin For The Sitting Seats ....................Taylor Hedds

Monday, 22 November 2010

In the highly charged and competitive arenas of tournament bridge, many players fall victim to this rather disturbing syndrome. The pressures of the game have become so immense that possessing mental stamina alone is not enough. Players are required to maintain full focus and concentration every second, displaying a relentless ability to read situations ( as they unfold ) with sharp, accurate and precise analysis. Moreover, not only are players up against skillful opponents, but also maverick partners, officious or inept TDs, old father time himself, as well as their own shortcomings and failings. The consequence of trying to cope with all these demands and set backs is , of course , the inevitable on set of this debilitating syndrome.

The Burn Out Syndrome is also known as a " syndrome of being burned ". It is characterised by 3 essential components :

  1. physical and/or psychological tiredness denominated by emotional exhaustion
  2. depersonalisation that is seen as a negative change of attitude towards others ( at the table )
  3. a lack of personal realization that is associated with feelings of being inadequate, or lacking personal accomplishments

The term " burn out " was coined for the first time by myself, in 1974, when the police discovered the charred remains of a body in a derelict car park. Suspected of being the murderer, Bigot-Johnson was arrested being the last person to see the victim alive. The dead man had been his error-prone partner that same day in a high ranking bridge Swiss Pairs competition, where Bigot lost his number one position after a disastrous last round. Witnesses recorded how he completely flipped. He was emotionally, physically and mentally shot. The prosecution alleged that he drove his partner away in his car, and then poured petrol over him and set him alight. As an expert witness for the defence, I explained to the court that Bigot was a classic case of " burn out " transference. He had fallen victim to the syndrome and had become so disillusioned and tormented, he chose not to internalise all his negative feelings........but to externalise them towards partner, who he blamed for his latest failure. However, with the police having nothing more than circumstantial evidence to go on, Bigot was found " not guilty ".

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The story of Icarus should serve as a warning to all bridge players beguiled by bidding gadgets and conventions.
Trapped on the island of Crete, Daedulus, a resourceful man, built wings of feathers and wax to enable his son to fly away like a bird. " Don't fly too low, " he cautioned the headstrong, light hearted youth, "...... or too high. Keep to a middle range if you can, and don't try to show off. " At first Icarus, heeding his father's warning, and flew cautiously, but in his exhilaration he gradually forgot all about his father's words. The youngster's initial fears had very quickly calmed. His confidence had developed to the point he wondered what more he could do with this splendid invention ? What limits did it have ? So he flapped his wings and flew higher, with everything seeming fine. So he flew higher still, convinced there was still plenty of margin for error. But as he soared higher, the wax on his wings started to melt. The feathers fell off, and he plunged to his death into the sea.
Well, bridge clubs are full of players who fall victim to the Icarus Syndrome. They too are often asked to use a gadget, such as a new bidding convention, by their more experienced partners. They choose to listen at first to the advice given............but only to ignore it later on. The device of course works perfectly well within the limits laid down, but in no time at all they become tempted to stretch the circumstances in which they might use it again. Sometimes they choose to use the gadget or convention on a point or two less, when the vulnerability is unfavourable, or when the suit(s) are not as robust as they should be.
This syndrome is a vice born out of over-confidence and inexperience. It is an affliction where blind faith replaces common sense. The initial success of the gadget makes them feel invincible, losing sight of the fact that the convention only works when the conditions are right. Like a child with a toy, they push the boundaries as to how far and in what circumstances the toy can be tested.
Tragically, far too many run-of-the-mill bridge players suffer from an obsession with bidding gadgets, becoming over-confident to the point of arrogance. Advice is completely ignored as the desire for experimentation becomes all too consuming. At no point do they realise that a bidding convention does not turn a poor player into a good one, as if by magic. A gadget in fact can only be as effective as the player who uses it.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Following a landmark ruling, bridge it seems can no longer be played in the UK. This tragic state of affairs followed a decision to uphold the Crown Prosecution Service's claim that bridge clubs, up and down the country, were contravening Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act of 1824. This Act, although obsolete, had never been repealed, but it took only one whistle-blowing telephone call by Bigot-Johnson to reactivate it. It was his information to the CPS that prompted this action against the EBU. An extract from the trial's transcript appears below, one in which Bigot was called to give his expert evidence. Indeed, Bigot had now helped to set a precedent putting all bridge clubs around the world at risk, in that they too could easily be flouting their own vagrancy laws.
Prosecutor : I now call upon the Crown's main witness...the legendary Bigot-Johnson. A man of immense honesty and integrity.....not to mention a very skillful and experienced bridge player in his own right. He will enlighten the court as to the crucial aspects of the game, which clearly fall foul of the Vagrancy Act of 1824.
B-J : Happy to oblige.......
P : Under Section 4 of this Act, it is a statutory offence for anyone to pretend or profess to make prophecies about future events, which cause alarm or consternation to others. Whether these prophecies hold true or not is immaterial. The essence of the offence is the deception of others.
B-J : Too right.....
P : If a prediction does not come true, then deceit has clearly taken place. Conversely, if a prediction proves correct, then this will only lead to people who listen to such wild speculations to believe that the so-called fortune teller has special powers.......and therefore will be right again. This of course becomes another gross deception.
B-J : Well put.......
P : Although the prisoners in the dock are not rogues or vagabonds, but top ranking EBU officials of respectable appearance, they too are equally obliged to obey the law.
B-J : Hang'em is what I say....
P : Now Bigot....tell the court what in fact is the essence of the game ?
B-J : Well, at any one table each of the 4 players is dealt 13 cards. Then they enter into a bidding auction working as pairs to bid their hand. The pair that makes the highest bid wins the auction, but the contract bid is only a prediction as to how many tricks they believe they can make.....
P : Ah....so players at the outset don't know how many tricks they will win, just the number of tricks they think they might win. In short a prediction.....a prophecy.....
B-J : Yes....in essence every player becomes a fortune teller. Each has a go at making a prediction as to the future outcome of the play of the cards. Sometimes the predictions are right, but in may cases the predictions are wrong.
P : Hmm.......it should be noted at this point that in many cities, countries, and states across America, laws of varying sorts, against " fortune telling ", are on their statute books. Clearly, deception is seen as a terrible crime worldwide....a crime which needs to be stamped out wherever it is found.
B-J : Well said....
P : And until Bigot-Johnson stepped forward to tell us what goes on inside these dens of deception, this insidious form of prophecy might have carried on undetected for another 100 years.
B-J : A shocking prospect....
P : Indeed, any sort of prophecy that contravenes the teachings of the Bible, causing people to fear the worse, must be severely dealt with. So please Bigot tell the court how players at the table respond to these contract prophecies ?
B-J : Partner always lives in fear that they might not come true. Opponents on the other hand live in fear that they will come true. Either way, it is likely that one pair will always feel wretched...... seconds after the actual trick counts are known....
P : My God......this is worse than I first imagined. It seems therefore all players fall victim to these prophecies, repeated throughout the course of an evening. And what long term damage do players inflict upon each other ?
B-J : Many get depressed....others suffer from anxiety or panic attacks..... and some even contemplate suicide...
P : Well, I have never come across a more clear cut case. Predicting tricks like you describe Bigot is nothing more than an " unholy " practice. that brings untold misery to all those exposed to it. The EBU as the governing body have a lot to answer for....
B-J : I'm totally with you on that one.....
Judge : Me too.....these bridge clubs are running amok with these tricky and devious fortune tellers. The scale of this crime is breath-taking. I have no hesitation therefore but to direct the jury to find a guilty verdict, holding the EBU as the body accountable for these widespread atrocities.
B-J : Bravo......but before I step down Mr. Prosecutor, pray tell me....what is my fee for giving evidence for the Crown ?
P : Nothing...
B-J : What....nothing ?
P : Yes...nothing....
B-J : Well, shag me with a rag man's trumpet...
Judge : My chambers then, Bigot ?........Or perhaps the downstairs' toilets ?
I have been told that my whole world revolves around the joys and tribulations of bridge. Of that there can be no doubt. Unfortunately, in my case, I have experienced more pain and suffering than joy : probably in the ratio of 100: 1
For most players the experience of euphoria comes from scaling the heights of success from the pits of despair. This is something now I only have a fleeting memory of as my game in recent years has been at rock bottom.
And then of course we have those gracious winners who never choose to celebrate their success in a flamboyant or ostentatious way. These are players who are so used to winning that they have become adeptly accustomed to suppressing their unbridled joy. They simply take it all in their stride, with an air of calm, self-assured satisfaction. Indeed, they can then afford to be generous in their praise of others who gave them a run for their money, suppressing any lingering desires to be smug with heartfelt sympathies for their opponents' gallant but unsuccessful efforts. Any victory, it seems, is best received with a fair degree of humility, humbleness, modesty, and unassuming grace.
Well, in my book, that's all a load of bollocks. If you win, seize the moment, flaunt yourself, flaunt your success, shout from the roof-tops, rub-it-in to those who just miissed out, milk it for as long as you can.....and be true to your manly instincts. Yes, this means whenever a god-sent opportunity to behave badly comes along, you must grab it and snatch it in the same way as you would the cup from the competition sponsors .

Thursday, 18 November 2010

( Inspired by the shocking story of the disrespect shown to the late Peter Pender, a most generous and deserving benefactor )
Even in a democratically and intellectually saturated institution, such as a sports governing body, where members suddenly find themselves bestowed with power, a strange phenomenon takes places. They immediately start to relish the opportunity of imposing their authority on others. Somehow, as if transformed into " other beings " overnight, they reject their humble roots, ceasing to be the " normal " people they once were.
Kantian theory suggests that when people acquire a new sense of importance, they find it increasingly difficult to retain their old values, attitudes and thinking. This weakness and/or failing of the Human Condition compels these now privileged individuals to distance themselves from the rank and file that voted them in. Such is the corrupting influence of power.
Tragically, this inevitable transformation usually leads to the development of pathological traits, such as the desire to bend or suppress the truth.......and to silence or marginalise their critics and opponents. For them the Machiavellian maxim " the ends justify the means " is revered.
But then who can we trust to be idealistic and moral enough to govern, and at the same time, be practical enough to make extremely difficult decisions that can and will upset, possibly harm, a great deal of people ?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

( In an attempt to boot Bigot out, the Walnut Tree BC committee started to research into all his past misdemeanours both within the club and elsewhere. The remit also included any court actions resulting from his appalling behaviour as a bridge player, and to the committee's great joy one such case popped up. Bigot, it seemed, having been kicked out of his former club, decided to set up his own private one. However, this proved to be a short-term venture when the police moved in to close it down. Charged under The Sexual Offences Act, Bigot received a 6 month custodial sentence. Details from the trial's transcript can be seen below. )
Prosecutor : You Bigot-Johnson are charged with running a house of ill-repute
B-J : Hold on a mo.....it was a bridge club for private members
P : Indeed...
B-J : To suggest what you are suggesting is an outrage....you must be stark raving BONKING MAD !
P : Excellent choice of words there ...which aptly describe the kind of people who came to your club
B-J : No ..no...you've got it all wrong. It's all a big mistake......a right cock up
P : Yet another apt description to describe the activities that went on inside
B-J : Oh dear.....another slip up
P : Words no doubt used by many of the punters.......but enough of all this......let's get down to the facts. So were you Bigot the sole proprietor, and acting manager, of 53 Trickett Place ?
B-J : Yes I was.....but I would like to remind the court that is was a private bridge club for top class lady players and their very wealthy male sponsors
P : So you admit to keeping and managing a place to which members resorted for practices involving the hire of pros,......practices where all sorts of dubious contracts were entered into ?
B-J : Well...if you put it like that.....then yes
P : And I take it there was more than one pro on the premises for hire ?
B-J : Yes....it was a very well attended club
P : And I take it that all these pros lived off the earnings of those they had solicited ?
B-J : Yes...
P : So please tell the court....did these pros used the club premises to engage in contractual activities which involved procuring as many tricks as possible ?
B-J : It's one way at looking at what went on
P : Well, I put it to you Bigot that you are nothing more than a despicable brothel house keeper
B-J : This is ridiculous....how can a private bridge club be anything other than a place where people come to play a game of cards ?
P : Brothels are out there in all manner of disguises. Examples include saunas, massage parlours and adult clubs. I take it your club was strictly for adults ?
B-J : Yes but.....
P : But what ?.....The fact remains that fee paying members turned up to find partners, namely pros, to engage in a whole range of seedy activities ......many of which relate to their sexual problems and hang-ups. Examples include entry and re-entry problems, what to do with unusual openings, coping with misfits, and deciding when to force or not.......
B-J : Just stop there.......you've completely got the wrong end of the stick. It was a club for people to come....
P : Exactly.......that's what I've been trying to establish
Judge : That's it.....I've heard enough.....I'm now going to direct the jury to find you guilty
B-J : But I didn't get to finish my sentence !!
Judge : Listen you scoundrel......the only sentence you'll be completing is one in Strangeways.....and if there are anymore outbursts from you, I'll have you back in here later on a contempt of court charge
B-J : Bugger me...
Judge : And where you going....there will be no shortage of takers

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dear Readers,
What the dickens you may ask is the main difference in style and attitude between those members of a bridge club that display etiquette, and the mere ordinary riff raff who don't.
Well, let me answer that question by giving you an example from my latest experience at the local bridge club. I was partnering the Right Honourable Lady Felicity Fortesque, who to all intents and purposes is a virtual aristocrat. Who I am to refuse the £200 sponsorship money she offered me for my services ?
It wasn't long before we came across a rather uncouth male pairing, whose grumpy and aggressive behaviour knew no bounds. How they manage to hold onto their membership beggars belief, given their appalling dress sense and lack of manners. Typically, when it came to doubling poor Felicity's reckless overbid, the penalty card hit the table with such force there was no mistaking its malevolent intent.
Clearly, all that etiquette required was a soft and gentle placement of the card upon the table, done with an air of embarrassed necessity and heartfelt regret. An unpleasant bid made in a relatively warm and friendly way.
There in a nutshell, dear reader, is the difference in style and attitude between well bred and refined bridge players and the hoi polloi.
If the beleaguered bridge world wants to re-establish the proud standards of yesteryear, then there is no place whatsoever for the oafish, ill-mannered, obsequious types who pervade and dominate the scene today. For if the good Lady is driven away by their unsavoury antics, then heavens above I'll be £800 a month worse off.
Yours always impeccably behaved, Rebecca Rood

Monday, 15 November 2010

BRIDGE BOOKS CONDEMNED FOR BEING IN BAD TASTE..... ( But well worth a read says Pun )
  • There's A Future Ahead Of Me In Bridge............Norma Stitz
  • And That Goes For Me Too................................Gloria Stitz
  • Something Has Really Got My Wind Up.............Tina Beens
  • I Was Born A Bastard, Partner !.........................Mary B. Gotten
  • Bridge : A New Dress Code For Men...................Jock Strap
  • Bridge : A New Dress Code For Women..............G. String
  • Always Ready To Oblige, Partner......................Dick Everard
  • When Are You Next Available, Partner ?..........Tamara Knight
  • I'm Always Looking Out For That Extra Trick....Philma Crevis
  • Gay Bridge Players Are Such Sweet Men...........Candy Puffs

Sunday, 14 November 2010

FANTASY BRIDGE..................................... ( By Pun )
Although it is not a widely known fact it appears that Dorothy, Tin man, Lion and Scarecrow were all very keen bridge players. Moreover, on their long and arduous journey down the yellow brick road, they often took time out to play a game or two of rubber bridge. So here is a short, as yet unpublished, account of one such match. Dorothy had drawn the short straw by cutting the Scarecrow, while the Tin Man had to settle for the cowardly Lion.
" Listen Scarecrow.... ", said Dorothy, "...... when we get the cards we definitely need to make hay while the sun shines....."
" Yes, yes....I know I've been underbidding....but stop giving me all this stick. "
" Look Scary.....I know we can win if you stop flapping about...... and just bid your hand. "
And sure enough on the next few deals Dorothy found herself in three aggressively bid games, which she managed to somehow scramble home. The Tin Man suddenly got the feeling he was being well and truly canned, but tried not to look rattled. He was clearly aware that after a long stint away from the game, he had lost his cutting edge. His sharpness had gone, and his defensive play was a little rusty. There were two contracts where all he wanted was one big heart to defeat declarer but no such luck. His partner, the timid Lion, was in the main a cautious player, but with immense pride in his play of the cards. Yet he too seemed completely off his game.
" For pity's sake, Leo ", snapped the Tin Man, " why don't you lie down for a while and calm your nerves. I know you've been picking up poor hands.....but things will change."
The Lion agreed, and so a 30 minute break was called for.
Back at the table, Dorothy now found the brainless Scarecrow more hopeless than ever. Deluged with her insults he was beginning to blow his stack, wishing that someone could step in to take his place and bail him out. Indeed, it was the turn of the Tin Man to be on a roll. No more was he brassed off. No more was his confidence dented. He was now stealing contracts right, left and centre. Lion too had become a roaring success with his bold bidding and aggressive defence. And now he had been dealt a whopper of a hand : AKQJ10...AKQ10....AKJ.....A.
Not surprisingly, he took the bit between his teeth and bid 7NT. His tail was up.
Dorothy, with her yarborough heaved a huge sigh, but Scary with his 9....J876.....Q104.....KQJ54 decided this was worth a double. Leo purred with delight, like a cat on heat, ready to pounce and redouble. Tin Man looked distinctly grey....even when Scary's King of clubs hit the table. Leo seized the trick with his singleton Ace, and played out 5 top spades. Poor Crowy had to find 4 discards and so parted with 3 clubs and one heart. Now came 4 top heart winners which forced the hapless defender to find another discard.....the 4 of diamonds ! Grand slam made.
" Jesus Christ, Scary.....can't you count my hand.....it was bloody obvious declarer held 3 diamonds ! You would be hopeless at bridge in any field ...."
" Oops.....I guess that what comes of being an uneducated man of straw ."
Well, there was no answer to that.
After getting a ruling that didn't go his way, a furious Bigot rose up from the table to stare look at the TD straight in the face, and hiss : " What would happen if I called you a useless F-ing bastard, who shouldn't be allowed to go anywhere near a bridge table ? "
" I'd report you to the committee, and have you barred from ever playing again in club competitions..." replied the shocked and startled TD.
" Ok that's fair enough....but what if I just thought it ? "
" Well, if you just thought it and didn't say anything....then I guess I couldn't do much about it. "
" Right...." said Bigot smiling, " that's all I wanted to know. "

Saturday, 13 November 2010

The problem most mortal bridge players face is that when they encounter far superior opponents, they have no defensive weapons against the barrage attack based on cleverness, cunning, smart thinking and highly developed bidding techniques. Moreover they have much less in the way of offensive weapons to initiate any retaliatory responses and counter-attacks. Any impartial observer would be mortified by the blind faith they have in the capability of their pea-shooters to knock-out the opponents' 40 tonne armour-plated tanks. With this amazingly naive view of their own alarming vulnerability and fragileness, I now understand where the phrase " lambs to the slaughter " comes from.

Friday, 12 November 2010

ANOTHER PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION ON BRIDGE.................... ( By Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
The love of bridge is an astonishing thing. It is an addiction which is not the result of pleasure-inducing drugs or substances being pumped into your system, but the consequence of repeated highs one inevitably experiences throughout a session at the tables. Surely, there can not be a better mental challenge to be found in this fast developing world of mind sports. Bridge can deliver everything that culture, entertainment and romance can ....and more. It can constantly and unerringly pump the body with so much adrenalin that players seem to bask in a kind of euphoria never likely to be experienced elsewhere. Yet there is never any collateral damage to the body and mind.
Bridge is an addiction which players have come to love, embrace and be astonished by. The game has an abstract beauty that transcends everything else, even the great works of art. It is the recluse of intellectual pleasure seekers, who want a foretaste on earth as to what might await them in paradise.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTIONS ON BRIDGE................. ( By Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
The dignity of any bridge player stands or falls on his ability to set himself goals in the realms of the unattainable. When the experience of failure is repeated he remains quiet, composed and determined to try again. After the experience of success, he considers himself to be no different from others, except for the fact that destiny and luck had much to do with his change of fortune.
What makes bridge so strange and fascinating is not that we are forever facing new, unfamiliar hands and opponents, but that we as players often behave like complete strangers with partners we know so well. The problem of communication breakdown always occurs when the lack of familiarity with awkward and unusual hands causes great astonishment and perplexity. In such instances we seem to lose the ability to make even the most obvious and sensible decisions.
Patience is the most difficult thing of all to hold onto, and yet it is the only thing that is worth learning. Bridge players, more than any other group of competitors, need to exercise extreme patience, such are the endless and frustrating demands of the game. The problems and difficulties posed by over-optimistic hopes and expectations, devil-dealt hands, sniping opponents, hopeless and inept partners, plus unsympathetic TDs test one's patience to the absolute limit......and beyond. Bridge requires a kind of patience, where time is needed to think before acting, and to reflect on those actions afterwards. But the nature of the game puts such time in very short supply.
But placing too much faith in partner, when we know of his/her frailties and failings, will always undermine our ability to act in a patient and sympathetic way. Patience needs to built on foundation stones hewn from rock face of realism and wisdom. Then a solid structure can be erected on these stones from the experience of previous disasters and defeat. These are the challenges which we as individuals must rise above, resisting the urge of the human condition to throw tantrums, to have histrionic outbursts, and to release bucket loads of negative energy and feelings.
Sadly, when the only desire of players is to win at all costs, the first cost to be incurred is their patience. This of course will always " fly out " of the window by the end of board one ...... leaving them to simply " fly off " the handle on each and every subsequent mishap.
" I would like you to stick your neck out..... like you do with your bidding......"

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

( Bigot-Johnson was making front page headline news again in the Bawtry Gazette, when having been accused of racial discrimination by his female bridge partner, the Crown prosecution Service decided to charge him with offences under the Race Relations Act. Bigot, who had by now become very accustomed to court room practices and procedures, decided yet again elect to defend himself. An extract from the trial's transcript appears below .)
Prosecutor : Is it not the case Bigot, that your own own club committee upheld a complaint from a lady member concerning several racial slurs you made about her nationality and ethnic origins....all of which were made during a bridge game on April 17th 2010 ?
B-J: I don't recall making any such slurs......
P : Allow me to remind you ............there was one instance where you referred to her as a " darkie "
B-J : No.....I did not......I merely asked if the object I had found on the floor by her feet was her " door key "
P : And what about these words, which you whispered across to her that evening : " I hate niggers ! "
B-J : No....no...she got it all wrong .....I said to her : " I hate enigmas "
P : And then there was your remark about " give me the Black Bottom any day "
B-J : Well....that remark was in reply to her waxing lyrical about the Charleston......
P : You sir are despicable.....and I'm sure the jurors do not believe a word you say. Indeed, throughout the whole duplicate game you made countless Afro-Caribbean references by constantly using the word " black " . Examples include black suits, blackout, blackberries, blackwood, faces as black as thunder, black sheep and so on....................And don't let's forgot the numerous times you asked about her spade holding.......
B-J : But many of these are bridge related terms, and the others are commonly used idioms in everyday speech
P : That is as may be.....but you used them in such a way as to convey sinister and racist undertones. This is evidenced by your contrasting use of " white " references, where you described yourself as a white knight, having gone as " white as a sheet ", and a teller of little " white lies ".
B-J : Hold on a mo...this is all conjecture and mere speculation. This evidence you have seems very grey to me.....
P : Well, from my point of view....it is all black and white ( laughter echoes around the courtroom )
B-J : So let's me get this straight. If I partner then an American Indian .....or a Russian......I can never use the word "red " , or any words that have red connotations ?
P : Correct.....
B-J : And if my partner comes from the planet Mars I mustn't make any " green " references whatsoever for fear of causing racial offence ?
P : Correct.....
B-J : Well, I can assure you that I never consciously intended to make any detrimental racist remarks or innuendos whatsoever .....
P : Ah yes, but in your sub-conscious your racist attitudes lurk with intent, occasionally forcing their way through into your conscious thoughts, speech and writing....
B-J : Upon my soul....you could be right.....but if that is the case then you are prosecuting the wrong person. You should be bringing charges against my inner self.
Judge : This would be utterly preposterous.....that would be like bringing charges against an invisible man! And I'm not having that !
B-J : What .....are you discriminating against my inner self because of his invisibility ?
Judge : Oops....I think you've got me there, Bigot. Hell, I'm stopping this trial right now before I embarrass myself even more.....This case is dismissed
P : On what grounds ?.........
Judge : That all allegations of discrimination are acts of discrimination in themselves. Hypocrisy appears to be rife in this court. Anyway I'm off..... I've got tickets for tonight's Black and White Minstrel Show. ....Good day to you all...
B-J : Well, I'll be buggered.....
Judge : Not by me ......you puff.....

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

( On hearing a strange clicking sound, Bigot-Johnson calmly walks up to the microphone. An audience of bridge players wait with bated breath, desperate to hear his advice and guidance on how to become one of the world's best players. )
" Well, here I stand before you....the world's greatest ever bridge player.....about to unfold the secrets of my success. Indeed, to play bridge at the highest level you must attempt the impossible ...... balancing a strong sense of discipline with both creativity and flair. Or to put it another way.... combining intuition and gut feeling with the savvy of a sewer rat.
Possessing an innate, inner wisdom is essential. Not one that comes from the grind of playing bridge week-in week-out, but one that comes as second nature. An ability to sense and foresee danger. An ability to read other players' minds, to read situations, and to read the cards. An ability to position oneself where you instinctively know the exact circumstances when it is right to bid, pass, double, raise, jump, bluff, barrage, and sacrifice.
However, what I have always been proud of is my ability to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of every hand..... and every player....... I encounter. This skill helps me to discover which players are capable of bluffing and taking risks, and which players I can bluff and take risks against. Bridge psychology can be equally as important as card sense. One must have a feel for knowing the odds, the percentages, spotting the opponents' tells, and whether or not cheating is taking place. It's not about just using your eyes and eyes.......it is also about using your nose to sniff out those thin games, slams..... those damn elusive queens..... and all those situations where something is clearly amiss.
Good practice requires one to review problem hands, where the analysis includes not only the way in which they were actually played, but the way they might have been played in different circumstances. Yes, even the slightest change in the circumstances might well require a change of plan or direction, where alternative decisions and choices need to considered and then acted upon. If a gamble has to be taken, then never do so blind. Class players only gamble when the odds are clearly in their favour : when only win-win situations can be envisaged.
What is for certain is that all great players possess an ability to maintain the highest levels of concentration over long periods of time. To sustain that high thin edge of concentration takes supreme mental effort and stamina, none of which should ever be wasted on incorrect, flawed or laboured analysis. Mental processes need to be razor sharp, accurate and precise. Minds therefore need to be like perpetual motion clocks : exquisite examples of quiet perfect efficiency, where breakdown are impossible given the reality of zero friction.
To master bridge you also need to develop a relaxed table presence, quietly but methodically absorbing every little thing that adds to the overall knowledge about the hand in question. Often it is the small details that tell the biggest story. Yes, we all need to focus on what has been bid and played, but we must also focus on the bids that weren't made, or the suits and/or cards that weren't played. This process is a long, patience-sapping discipline, but one which acts as the essential bonding agent........welding together all the other essential skills into a single highly explosive talent. The concept of synergy being present for all to see.
One quality that we should all strive to possess is never allowing smart-arse dick-heads to psyche us out, or to upset our equilibrium. I pride myself on possessing no such psychological weakness. My focus is only to pay attention to the bidding and play, and not the low-level cheating attempts of table louts desperately trying to distract me with their sabre-rattling gestures and comments.
So finally, I have left to wonder that whether on not I have a human brain, in that part of my mental make-up involves arriving at decisions, where the processing of information by-passes the normal circuits of logic and reasoning. These decisions arrive either by unexplained insights and visions, or by a combination of abstract logic and lateral thinking............................"
( Just then Dr. John steps forward and clicks his fingers, whereupon Bigot immediately sinks back into a deep trance. Moving the microphone nearer to his mouth, Dr. John addresses his spell bound audience. )
" Well, there you have it ladies and gentleman .....and a truly wonderful example of the awesome power of hypnotic suggestion. Behold....for on the next click of my fingers this poor wretched man will return to being nothing more than a mundane, frustrated, rank bad club player, who has simply turned up at the annual Walnut Tree Allotment BC 's Christmas cabaret party. Thankfully, he have no recall of what has happened to him here on this stage, and he will never know that for 3 minutes of his life he actually lived his dream........."

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Dear Prof,
This ultimate bridge idea of yours could turn this beautiful and sacred game into something more akin to poker. Second guessing what your opponents are likely to bid becomes an essential part of the game. Moreover, with each defender seeing what's in dummy and knowing what cards they hold, reading declarer's hand becomes a tad bit easier. This of course makes it doubly hard for declarer to succeed.
Mind you, the bidding aspect of the game becomes a real fine art of combining sharp analysis with tactical cunning. Why just the other day I figured I had 10 tricks in no trumps, but foolishly elected to bid 3.....and because my opponents cleverly bid the same, I was dumped with a zero score for a scrubbed board. Why the hell I didn't bid 4NT I'll never know. But later on I wised up big time. With a combined 36 count , 7NT looked a racing certainty. More rigid than a donkey's dick on viagra. However, I figured the oppo might try to sabotage my score by bidding the same contract, and so I opted to bid 6D instead. Bingo!! The silly buggers had infact bid 6NT only to find themselves doubled for 12 off, giving us a galactic top. Such joy...such bliss.
So yes, ultimate bridge is one helluva game but don't be surprised if it never catches on. This is a game.... not for the faint-hearted..... and certainly not for the feeble'minded. It's a game for talented bridge players who like to gamble and live on the edge.
Yours always looking to shaft opponents good and proper ,
Willie Hardman

Friday, 5 November 2010

Without doubt bridge needs to develop if it is to become a more challenging, demanding and exciting game, and what I am proposing here might well be the answer.
Rules for ultimate bridge :
  1. Each board will indicate which player from each direction is nominated to make his/her side's one and only bid.
  2. North/ south will first look at their own hand, before looking at their partner's ( east/west doing likewise ) within the permitted 2 minute time period.
  3. The nominated bidders must then place face down on the table their chosen bid, before the two bidding cards are turned over simultaneously.
  4. The side that wins the auction with the highest bid must then play in that designated contract.
  5. However, the nominated player of the defending side must now nominate which of them is to make the opening lead, meaning that it is the player in the 4th seat who gets to be declarer.
  6. In the rare event that both sides bid the same contract, the cards are returned to the board as " not played " , which results in a pass-out score.
  7. Defenders are not obliged to reveal their signalling methods.

The beauty therefore about ultimate bridge is that there is no need whatsoever for system cards and/or convoluted bidding sequences. Bidding conventions are redundant. Moreover, it is the primary function of the nominated bidders to assess what bid to volunteer, given their recall of the 26 cards previously on view. The gambling element is also present if, say, the side with little in the way of high card points, clearly aware that a small slam in no trumps is on for the opponents, take the dangerous step of bidding that contract for themselves...... hoping of course for a " scrubbed " board. Because if they win the auction, the inevitable double will be very costly indeed. The nominated player for the defence is now well placed with his knowledge of the two hands to seize the initiative, chosing where the opening lead is to come from, and both defenders might well know when and where to switch in order to mazimise their trick potential. Accurate recall of key cards, shape and distribution is of paramount importance.

  • Once the opening lead has been made, the onus immediately switches to the other defender to use this one and only opportunity to double the contract for penalties.
  • If the contract has been doubled at trick one, then declarer has the option at any time during the play to redouble, if fortune looks to be turning back in his/her favour.

Players who decide to take on ultimate bridge will need to assimulate more information in less time. Bidding needs to be done with pin point accuracy, taking into account the defenders greatly improved knowledge of their combined assets and strengths. Sacrifice bidding might well be a tactic regularly employed, but the risks are that much greater with regards to confident doubles, and the likelihood of accurate and sharp defence.

This is bridge at the cutting edge, requiring players to develop their memory and analytical skills to even higher levels. Speed of thought is essential along with real tactcal nous.

This is Bigot-Johnson's Brave New Bizarre World of Bridge. So please give it a try and publish your comments, adding any refinements and/or changes where appropriate.