Wednesday, 29 December 2010

( As usual Bigot-Johnson, the scourge of the District Crown Court, was in the dock again facing a private prosecution for malicious persecution. The victim of this alleged crime was none other than Percy Pantopod, a fellow club member of the Walnut Tree Allotment BC. Bigot, almost an expert in the art of defending himself, was full of confidence, having only to face the inexperienced Percy who took on the role of prosecutor . An extract from the trial's transcript appears below. )
Percy : Have you and I ever had a civil relationship ?
Bigot : Has the Virgin Mary ever slept with the Devil ?
Percy : Well answer me this. Do you go out of your way to humiliate me at the table, and to embarrass me in front of my peers ?
Bigot : I have never had to do anything at the just simply humiliate and embarrass yourself with your inept play and dumb remarks. You have a natural gift for being a buffoon. And as for being ridiculed in front of your peers......well, since everyone treats you as the club buffoon, it patently obvious you've got no peers !
Percy : mean to say that I am a man of such little reputation, club members look upon me as a complete non-entity as well as a fool ?
Bigot : Upon my soul, your perceptiveness surprises me . And you have such a way with words. I'm beginning to warm to you a bit.
Percy : But was it not the case that during the club's " Individual " event, I not only had to partner you but also play against on three or four occasions.
Bigot : Yes...
Percy : And do you recall that penultimate round when we were finally paired together ?
Bigot : Yes...
Percy : And because you knew I was on the verge of winning this competition for the first time, you failed to raise my ( 15-17 ) 1NT....... on a decent 9 count......... on two consecutive hands.
Bigot : I was trying to ensure you came away from these two boards with positive scores. I've seen your declarer play....and it isn't pretty. So please do not interpret my " pity " as something akin to an insult, or an act of malicious persecution.
Percy : But on both contracts I made 10 tricks !
Bigot : Yes, with helpful defence, you did manage to raise your game from abysmal to just short of mediocre...
Percy : Ah... but then we come to all those incidents where you were sitting in the opposite direction. You ignored all my chat and social pleasantries by constantly scribbling away on tatty pieces of paper a man possessed.
Bigot : Quite so, I was composing letters of complaint about your lack of personal hygiene, not to mention a few more anonymous poison pen-letters and hate mail..... a tradition that has been going on now for several years.
Percy : Judge ....did you just hear that confession ?
Judge : Sorry was just nodding off...
Percy : Bigot...will you repeat what you said to me for the benefit of this docile and dopey judge ?
Bigot : No....I do not wish to prejudice my defence .....for a second time
Percy : Well, I have nothing more then to say..
Bigot : Thank God for that...
Judge : Well, I'm with you on this one Bigot. This Percy fellow is indeed a prat. In my view there is no evidence of malicious persecution, only evidence of a caring and considerate man ( namely yourself ), taking up a great deal of his precious time to inform this prat that he is indeed a complete one. Some men deserve the contempt of others and Pantopod belongs to such an unfortunate group.
Percy : Why.....this ruling is an outrage. Call this justice ? Can't you do anything that is right !
Judge : Yes....I damn well can.....officers, arrest this man for contempt of court.....and take him down to the cells.
Bigot : Well.....I'm so could shag me with a rag man's trumpet..
Judge : Is that colloquialism for " bugger me " ?
Bigot : Indeed it is....
Judge : So will a trombone do ? .....because as it happens, I have a rather large one in my chambers......
LATEST BRIDGE BOOK RELEASES FOR 2011....... ( Research by Pun )
  • My Partner Gets My Nerves On Edge........................Denise R. Knocking
  • Bald Bridge Players Are Not A Patch On Me..............Hedda Hare
  • That Was One Hell Of A Victory Margin....................Alan Slyde
  • Every Hand Excites Me No End................................Dick Stillard
  • The Art Of Obstructive Bidding.................................Phil E. Buster
  • Does She Make A Racket When She Loses.................Kata Wall
  • Disasters Always Come Out Of The Blue....................Sue Denley
  • Things You Have To Drum Into Your Partners.........Tim Penny
  • Bridge Can Inflict So Much Despair And Woe............Bea Tide
  • Hold On Partner, Don't Rush Me...............................Ima Cummin

Monday, 27 December 2010

Being a good player alone doesn't bring success. And even if you pair up with another top class player, that too doesn't necessarily guarantee success. This is because there are many other factors which are vital in one's pursuit of glory and fame.......... none more so than having that elusive " partnership harmony ".
Indeed, many authors have addressed this topic from various different angles. Blaine Howe, a few years back, wrote a marvellous article entitled " My Seven Deadly Partnership Sins ". So having taken a lead from that little masterpiece, I have decided to focus my attention to answering the question : " What tends to undermine partnership harmony ? "
Clearly, there are many factors on which partnership harmony is built. Factors such as mutual trust, co-operation and forgiveness : the true and most important foundation stones. There has to be also compatible attitudes, values and beliefs about the way the game should be played. Communicating a strong belief and confidence in the other's ability to do what is right is a vital component too. Therefore, if anything undermines these factors, then partnership harmony is seriously under threat. And so I have listed below all the unsavoury and destructive forces that have cause disharmony in the ranks, causing many a partnership to break up acrimoniously. These forces, in essence, represent behavioural traits which are both shameful and reprehensible :
1. Theatrical body language that conveys contempt, hatred, anger or despair
2. Snide comments often invoking sarcastic cliches, barbed jokes, pointed remarks and cutting quips
3. Displays and/or outbursts of blatant hypocrisy
4. Non-stop, relentless preaching, where the focus is on belittling partner rather than offering friendly advice
5. Selective blindness, observing mistakes only from the opposite side of the table
6. Exposing a massive superiority complex, which is completely unfounded
7. A passion for post mortems on each and every hand
8. A ticking time-bomb personality, where the smallest incident can pull the trigger
9. Applying double standards, where the same mistake warrants a far more severe reprimand if committed on the other side of the table
10. Arrogance which is so self-destructive, it brings on tactical immaturity, and rash decisions
11. A zero tolerance level which manifests itself in the form of extreme impatience, petty-mindedness, impetuosity and acts of negative behaviour
12. A sadistic tendency to ridicule and humilate partner infront of others
If as a player you believe in the importance of partnership harmony, and the benefits that this brings, then do not..... under any circumstances...... allow yourself to succumb to any of these unfortunate character traits. And more importantly, don't ever stay with a partner who sadly has succumb to one or more of these inner forces of destruction. Not only will you enjoy your bridge more, but your results might well start to improve.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTIONS ON BRIDGE ........... ( By Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
Bridge governing bodies are made up of all kinds of folk, people who yearn for, and relish, the power of office. Indeed, officers of such bodies can always be found to possess two distinct qualities :
(i) stupid or clever
(ii) lazy or industrious
In very rare circumstances, some officers may be seen to possess both commendable characteristics, as well as both the less desirable ones. In the majority of cases, officers tend to possess one good trait, one bad. This is known as simply being " human ".
However, the success or failure of that governing body depends on which two characteristics a particular officer possesses. For out of the four possible combinations, one becomes a prerequisite for disaster :
- those who are lazy and stupid pose no threat whatesover
- officers who are lazy and clever have all the right credentials to attain the highest leadership posts, without ever wishing or wanting to rock the boat
- and as for those individuals who are both clever and industrious, they tend not to stay for long, preferring instead to move on to ventures that will offer far more rewarding challenges
- but then we come to the loose cannons, meddlers and mavericks, who are both stupid and industrious. Those who cannot be stopped or controlled. Those who cannot see the folly of their actions. Those who are extremely dangerous, and who must be stopped by whatever means possible, before further disaster and mayhem transpires.
Yes, governing bodies are made up of all types, but that's what helps make the this world of bridge so incredibly bizarre.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

" All those in favour of excluding wealthy bridge sponsors from the list of nominations, raise your hands....."
( Footnote : It is a common feature of nearly all committees that they can be dominated by one, or just a few, ruthless individuals. These powerful figures will not allow other committee members to deflect them from fulfilling their secret motives and personal agendas. Indeed, they will go to incredible lengths to get their way, adopting a multitude of unscruplous and underhand tactics in the process. The cliche " not much you can do when your hands are tied " is one which immediately comes to mind. )

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

  • I Don't Know What's Up With Me Today, Partner.......Norma Lee Withett
  • I'm Giving Up Bridge For A While..............................Holly Dayin
  • Sorry Partner, I've Lost The Urge To Continue..........Drew Peacock
  • Yes, Players Do Regard Me As A Pro.........................Ima Hore
  • We Can't Pick Him Again, He's A Liability..................Enid Sturgoe
  • In Bridge, Take Whatever You Can............................Rob M. Blind
  • What I Would Really Like To Do Over Christmas.......Roger A. Goose
  • I Just Can't Help Getting Tops...................................Honor Roll
  • What's The Portland Pairs All About Then ?.............Mick Stubbles
  • My Problem Is I Don't Bid Up Enough.......................Tim Merrity
One couldn't help notice he was up and jumping
So confident of winning his black heart was pumping
An excitable man they all said
As top followed top, his joy reached new bounds
His whooping and wailing were all happy sounds
An excitable man they all said
Oh indeed a very excitable man
But when his partner binned a great slam
He rose from his seat screaming, " Damn.. Damn "
An excitable man they all said
More mishaps followed, things weren't going well
He was going ballistic it was easy to tell
An excitable man they all said
Oh indeed a very excitable man
Entering up scores with a percentage of nil
He was ready to maim, and ready to kill
An excitable man they all said
Then a four off doubled, he could stand no more
So he strangled his partner who slumped to the floor
An excitable man they all said
Oh indeed a very excitable man
So highly strung
So mercurial
So unpredictable
So volatile
Well, what do you expect from a bridge player !

Monday, 20 December 2010

BODY LANGUAGE AND BRIDGE.............. ( Article by Dr. Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
Well. unless we sit at the tables like corpses in an advanced state of rigor mortis, with dead pan faces and the stiffness of statues, then body language becomes unavoidable. Therefore, as ethical and honest bridge players, we all have to make an effort to control it, but unfortunately it is a task that many of us fail.
Clearly, there are two big reasons why body language has to be controlled.
Firstly, there are all sorts of facial and body mannerisms, which can convey to an astute partner, well skilled in reading " tells ", that you are encountering a certain type of problem. This can be whether ( or not ) to bid, which bid is the lesser of two evils, which card makes a safe opening lead, or what suit needs to be played next. " Tells " of course add up to unauthorised information, and clearly puts pressure on partner to do the right thing. But this could require him to do something that he really doesn't want to do. Classic examples of these naughty tells include :
- lots of puffing and blowing
- huddles and lengthy hesitations
- finger positioning and movements
- squirming and fidgeting
- smiles, nods of approval or head shaking and scowls
- instant, lightening quick play of a card
- hand hovering over the bidding box
- light or heavy placement of bidding cards on the table
However, body language also has another purpose beyond a deliberate or subconscious attempt to pass information over to partner. The aim here is to convey another type of message, usually with regards to one's agitated state of mind, negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. Facial mannerisms and body movements are carefully selected to show one's contempt, hatred, anger and despair over partner's inept play. Body language here is adopted with the aim of punishing and reprimanding partner in a silent....but far more effective way that words ever could. Classic examples here include :
- slumped body, dropping of head, or head in hands
- shoulder shrugs
- teeth/hand clenching
- arm flailing
- frozen look with open-mouth
- black look with bared teeth
- tongue-biting
- rolling of eyes
Yet, many players will defend the use of body language claiming ( quite rightly ) that it enriches the game, just from its entertainment value alone. Then there is the drama and theatrics it generates, helping to bring the game to life. Yet the reality at the tables is that body language is at the centre of most cheating allegations, as well as being instrumental in driving many people away from the game.
Now I don't want to see bridge players operating like pre-programmed androids with fixed facial expessions and identical body movements. But at the same time, I don't want to become a victim of any untoward body language. A delicate balance needs to be struck. Therefore, players need to adopt and apply the principle of preparedness, to bid and play the cards in even tempo, and to learn how to enjoy the game and to laugh at their misfortunes.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A CHRISTMAS STORY......................... ( Fantasy bridge by Pun )
Once upon a time four well known Christmas characters sat down to play a game of rubber bridge that was to end up with little goodwill and even less seasonal cheer. It was December 1987 when Santa Claus teamed up with the inebriated red-nosed Rudolph. Their opponents as always were Snowman and his partner the mischievous Tree Fairy.
" What are the stakes going to be then? " queried the Tree Fairy.
" Why not some big dough for once ! " replied Santa. "
" Yes....I like the idea of playing for big bucks ", chirped in Rudolph.
" Ok then.." said Santa, " ....let's make it £1 a point. "
" I agree... "
And so the match began.
After the first ten or so deals the Snowman was flying high, having bid and made 7 frigid games on the trot. Poor Santa had make the mistake of thinking Snowy was still a harmless nobody, but now he realised what a cold and calculating person he was.
But then for no apparent reason , Snowy's partner, The tree Fairy, suddenly decided to take uncharacteristic flights of fancy.......bidding exceptionally frisky contracts on a whim. Had she gone barking mad.....or what ? She seemed completely unable to twig the extent of the damage she was doing to their partnership. Phantom sacrifices and light-weight pre-empts had already caused the Snowman to go a deathly white. Santa was in for the kill, sharpening his claws, and ready to pounce.
" Let's slay'em, Rudolph " he thought to himself, hoping to rein in even more juicy doubles.
" Well done, Santa " beamed a happy Rudolph, trying as always to fawn his way into his master's affections.
Indeed, the Snowman was really beginning to feel the heat, as his early winnings were rapidly melting away. Yet he froze with fear at the prospect of the Tree Fairy leaving her senses completely. So when he caught her atttention, he hit her with a cold icy stare that would surely chill her to the bone.
Initially, the Tree Fairy was rooted to the spot. She was stumped as to what he was so upset about, but as luck would have it her next wild and random bids all paid off. Santa's doubles of part-scores started to hand them fortuitous games. He seemed to be handing out gifts left, right and centre.
Now, it was the turn of Rudoplh to despair at his partner's ill-judged bids. Appalling decisions that were getting right up his nose. As far as he was concerned Santa was on the verge of being given the sack. His roof for once was about to cave in.
" Santa, " he screamed , " why the bloody hell double them in 2S when you had a huge red suit of your own ? You're a bumbling old fool. In fact, I've had enough ......and I'm going outside for a late night glide.... "
" No...don''s looks as though it's to going to rain, dear " pleaded Santa.
" Very funny....not ", snapped Rudolph.
" Heaven's above ", exclaimed the Tree Fairy, " I'm finding all this ill-feeling sapping my enthusiam to carry on."
And on that note, the match came to a rather abrupt and unexpected ending.
Rudolph, however, was already at the door.
" Where you going gliding off to ? " asked the Snowman
" I've got a stag do to go to..." came the sharp but apt reply.

Friday, 17 December 2010

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG.................
Dear Rebecca,
Can you help me with some questions ?
I was playing bridge the other night with the self-proclaimed club professional, when the following deals occurred:
Board 11. After 2 passes I opened a light 1S in 3rd position ( still within the rule of 19) , only to see my partner slam down the 4NT card ( Blackwood enquiry ). My 5D ( one Ace ) response forced him to sign off in 5S. His hand was : AK10xxxx....Kxx.....Qx.....x . Three top winners in the minors were cashed by my gleeful opponents before I even blinked.
Board 16. After 2 passes I opened a weak 2S. No surprise then to hear my LHO double ( not alerted as take out or 18+ points ), and partner stepped in with 3 diamonds which was duly passed out. His hand turned out to be : Qxx....KQx.....KJ10xx.....xx. Result minus 200 for 2 down for another second bottom. When asked about this visionary bid, he simply replied : " I was expecting them to bid and reach 4H, whereupon I was going to whack down a double ".
Board 17. Here my RHO opened 1D, passed round to partner who made a protective bid of 1NT ( 11-14 points ), which I was happy to pass with 7 HCP and K108xx in diamonds. Due to a fortuitous lead of a low heart from AKxx to my partner's bare queen !.......12 tricks steam-rollered in. This converted a potential third bottom into a fortuitous near top. His hand was K10xx....Q......x.....AKQJxxx
Board 24. I opened fourth in hand 1S, and my partner bid 2C ( showing 10+ points ), but after a few more torturous bids we finished up in 3S going off one for a joint bottom. His hand was If my partner had bid a more sensible 2D, he might well have left my 2S rebid in for a good score.
So what I want to know is this :
1. Is my partner criminally insane to the extent he should be sectioned under the 199o Mental Health Act ?
2. Or should I be the one who needs sectioning having agreed to play with this man ?
3. Do self-proclaimed experts have a licence to bid what the hell they like, never to be accountable for the mishaps their lunatic bids create?
Years in desperate need, Skippy from Stockport
Dear Skippy,
Boy bones about it.... you certainly had a torrid time !
How he couldn't find an opening bid himself on board 11 beggars belief. Moreover, there was no need to rush to 4NT, with so many other forcing bids available to him. What a loose cannon.
As for board 16....well I'm truly perplexed by his bid. If he must bid, then a raise in spades is the most obvious move. Moreover if you have a minimum of 6 points, then the opponents only have a combined 23 count at best, which is clearly touch and go for reaching and making 4H. Best bid in my view is 3S and await developments.
The next hand surely warranted a double hoping to find you holding a biddable spade suit. If he hears a heart bid, then he can either go back to clubs, or try 2D/3D to enquire about you having a possible diamond stop with 3NT clearly in mind.
Clearly on board 24, your partner is fixated with indicating a point count rather than which long suit he has his points in. Even if 2D is seen as a weak bid in your system, he is best advised to use it as a waiting bid to see what you do next. This way he can certainly raise your 2NT to three with confidence. Bidding over your 2S rebid with 3D is wildly optimistic and undisciplined.
So " yes " is my answer to both question 1 and 2. His bids are classic splitter bids, guaranteed to split apart even the most rock-solid partnerships. Moreover, you should never play with anyone who talks complete bull-shit when attempting to defend the indefensible.
Yours I too have recently played with this man but I'm still undergoing therapy , Rebecca
If one was to strip away my alter egos, the man that remains would be nothing out of the ordinary. A dull man, rigidly fixated on wearing nothing but brown or grey trousers and shirts. Desperate to please and be accepted by others. Indeed, over the years I have allowed my naivety and gullibility to expose me to all forms of exploitation . Not once did I ever stop to reflect whether the process I was undertaking was in my best interests, such was my lack of awareness and understanding of personal, moral and political issues .
Having failed miserably to achieve any form of public acclaim, fame or fortune, I thankfully called upon my alter egos to rescue my situation. They seized the opportunity to " redesign me ", and turn me into world renown bridge blogger, thereby fulfilling long held fantasies of being a highly successful writer. Yet to my great consternation and dismay, I have been forced to accept that most of my readers view my material as " scandalous rot ", " total drivel ", and " utterly disgraceful ". Ouch.... those comments really hurt.
However, I must admit as a bridge player I am probably guilty of more untold breaches of the rules than any other. These I feel were originally down to a combination of inadvertence and ignorance. Nowadays, it is due to a lethal combination of extreme bloody-mindedness and breath-taking arrogance. Thankfully, most members at the Walnut Tree and the Slaughter House seem quite prepared to tolerate all my misdemeanours........or else turn the proverbial blind eye.
And so the real man behind Bigot-Johnson will, after finishing this post, return to the shadows. This means of course Bigot will be back in control. But as I cling onto these fleeting moments where for once I have center stage, I must now free myself completely from this strait-jacket of self-denial.......and finally answer the question as to who I really am.
Yes.....I, John Howard Gibson, am nothing more than a pale shadow of the man I would like to be. A dreamer. A fantasist. A role player. A faceless man......but thankfully one who possesses many masks.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

( Finally, an emotionally battered and bruised Mrs. Bigot-Johnson arrived at the High Court to petition for divorce. The marriage had remarkably lasted many years, but the demon Bigot-Johnson still wanted it to continue. He therefore elected to defend himself, desperate to hold onto the one woman he trusted to iron his shirts, and darn his socks, properly. A transcript of this unforgetable hearing can be seen below. )
Counsel for the plaintiff (CP ) : My client is petitioning for divorce on 3 grounds.......
B-J : The woman's gone mad.....just what the hell does she think she's doing ?
CP : Your honour, this appears to be the utterance of an imbecile..... or an infant
Judge : Without doubt.....
CP : The first ground of course is unreasonable behaviour, which I might add goes all the way back to 1980, the year they got married. Right from the off this dreadful man would spent every night in bed thinking about hands he had played that day. So pre-occupied was he about the mistakes and mishaps at the table, he failed to recognise her presence even though she was waiting patiently beside him. Even when he woke up, his mind was still mulling over dozens of unresolved bridge issues.
Judge : Shame on you Bigot......can there be more to this horror story?
CP : Indeed, there can your honour....this apology of a husband is also guilty of spending most of his time at home.......delving into bridge books........and writing endless letters of complaint to club committees and bridge governing bodies.
Judge : A scandalous waste of time.....
CP : Now I come onto the matter of desertion. This relates to Bigot spending 4 nights a week at his local clubs, plus weekends away at Congress events, where venues are often hundreds of miles a fruitless and futile pursuit of a major trophy.
Judge : What ! He hasn't managed to win a trophy in 30 years....which by my reckoning is around 1600 attempts ?
CP : No..... he certainly hasn't....for he's as useless at bridge as he is at being a husband
B-J : I object to these accusations
Judge : Over-ruled.... I'll have you know that in the war they used to shoot deserters !
CP : Indeed, the total time Bigot spent away from home playing bridge was around 72 hours a week. Add to that time spent at work , reading, writing letters, and sleeping..... then only 6 hours remained for any interaction with his wife. This, of course, took place at meal times when demanding his food.
Judge : I've never heard anything so appalling....
CP : Well, there's more to come. The third ground on which my client is petitioning for divorce concerns Bigot's acts of adultery.
Judge : What, he did the dirty on her...more than once ?
CP : Yes....on a regular basis..... even while they were dating...... and certainly since they've been married
Judge : Such behaviour I find inexpressibly repugnant ! Was sex involved ?
CP : In a way allow me to explain. Bridge involves having many partners. Relationships with partners can get very intense. Some hands really do generate huge excitement, big climaxes and if things go their way.....immense joy and satisfaction. Joy that excels orgasms. Many a time the Bigot has come home with soiled trousers.
Judge : How disgusting....
CP : Yes, bridge is Bigot's substitute for real sex. The game in fact is a grotesque simulation of sex......and in my view it should be banned as obscene.
Judge : Hell, I'm with you all the way on that's about time we had a wider definition of what constitutes adultery !
CP : So in conclusion I am forced to accept, on purely humane terms, that the childless Mrs. Bigot-Johnson has been blighted, rejected and completely ignored by her husband. I can only describe her as barren .......oops..... I mean " her marriage as barren " ......and that of course might well be understatement.
Judge : I totally agree.....and I have no hesitation in finding for your client. The petition therefore will proceed accordingly, and a decree nisi will be awarded here and now. You Bigot will be obliged to vacant the matrimonial home immediately, and seek out rented accommodation. The next hearing will be in 6 months when the decree will be made absolute, with all property and chattels to be assigned to your ex-wife. Have you sir... anything at all to say to this court ?
B-J : Bugger.....

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Whenever players sit down for the first time with each other, the new partnership always starts out as a bed of roses. Both are careful not to tread on any toes or do anything that might jeopardise a perfect start. Each looks at the other through rose tinted glasses. Every effort is given to promote harmony and partnership well being. Best behaviour from the word " go " becomes a must, if first impressions are to turn out as the right ones.
Each partner therefore perceives the other like a Saltzburg twig, glistening in the light with its delicate cover of beautiful salt crystals. And not surprisingly, when we have something of beauty the Human Condition makes us treat it with respect, in the same way we would if blessed with a new car. Such an acquisition necessitates for every proud owner a complete change of habits : safe parking, new smell preservation, rubbish free interior, scratch paranoia, regular cleaning and paintwork buffing, and empty road driving. Likewise, bridge players also tend to operate in this over-protective way with any new partners. Indeed, when this phenomenon takes hold, a player automatically adapts his/her behaviour accordingly:
- displaying extreme politeness and bonhomie at all times
- offering kind words of support and comfort
- complete adherence too the agreed system card
- disciplined bidding with no flights of fancy
- honesty in owning up to mistakes
- accepting mishaps, and partner's mistakes, with genuine sympathy and forgiveness
- laughing off bad results
However, this phenomenon is very short lived, as with the beauty of the Saltzburg twig. As the crystals drop off one by one, the ugly twig from within is revealed.....and then of course reviled. As a player exposes his weaknesses and faults, a truer picture of who he really is begins to emerge, enticing the other to make critical observations. A vicious circle then quickly develops, where a few criticisms by one player sees the dozens of salt crystals dropping from his twig, revealing many of his flaws and personal short-comings in a single act. These shocking revelations will be seized upon by the other, who will retaliate with even more venom. Within weeks the both players are reduced to two ugly twigs with not a single crystal left between them. The beasts from within have been let loose. The partnership honeymoon is well and truly over. Familiarity yet again has bred utter contempt. Divorce looks inevitable. And so both players will then go their separate ways looking for new partners, where the phenomenon will once again resurface. Such is the bizarre world of bridge.
- You find club members laughing at you..... rather than with you
- Your only chance of getting a semi-decent partner is to rely on the stand-by system
- Dreaming about becoming a good player has become a real embarrassment
- It becomes necessary to sit on comfortable seats..... with pads on
- In the interests of your physical health, another 3 hours of sitting down becomes eminently sensible
- You fail to appreciate the fact that " pacing yourself " has turned you into the club's slowest player
- Opponents stare at you as you play the cards.....but never in a complimentary or good way
- Looking for your name on the results list is a lot quicker if you start from the bottom upwards
- The only time you now pull off a successful squeeze is if you can get into trousers you bought 3 years ago
- Table talk about " master strokes " and " heart attacks " makes you feel distinctly uncomfortable

Monday, 13 December 2010

Naming all those members of the Slaughter House BC
to be EXCLUDED from getting any Christmas
presents whatsoever
...... having been found guilty of committing the most horrendous crimes
ever witnessed
in the bidding
and play
of the cards

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Back by popular demand...... the first of two artivcles entitled :
- You realise caution over your bidding and play is the only thing you care to exercise
- You begin to suspect former partners were right after all in claiming you had no feel for the game
- Playing weekend bridge away constitutes " letting your hair down "
- The team captain is a good thirty years younger than you
- You find yourself recognising the names of all the house plants recently purchased by your club
- You start making that special please-have-sympathy-for-me groaning noise whenever you get up from your chair
- Your weight-lifting routine now only includes lifting cards from the boards
- You argue back with every partner, opponent and TD, but never accepting the fact that you could be wrong
- You complain bitterly about the " arrogant " young bridge players of today
- You discuss between hands the problems of leaking gutters and inadequate roof lagging
- You only look to join bridge clubs that have front-door parking facilities

Saturday, 11 December 2010

DR. JOHN REPLIES...............
Dear Bobby,
Thank you so much for giving up your time to share with me some of your thoughts on the McCandless Syndrome. These have caused me to reflect a little more on this disturbing aspect of The Human Condition, a term which you first introduced me to a few months back.
Most of us it seems are blessed with the gift of hindsight, but it's only the very few who possess the gift of foresight. Top class bridge players, like chess grandmasters, have that ability to predict ( with alarming accuracy ) the outcomes and conclusions of their actions. For mere mortals, such as myself, it is always the case of " let's do this and wait and see what happens ".
As for the analogy of sending a fool of a child to go out and play in the traffic...........yes, it is all too plain and obvious that a serious incident will occur. Yet strangely, it might well be the child that comes back unscathed........with drivers becoming the victims instead, as they instinctively swerve to avoid him, only to end up piling into one another with tragic consequences. Such is the fickle hand of fate.
In bridge however, fools always get their comeuppance, getting severely punished for their reckless behaviour. But when it comes to other walks of life, they can often come up smelling of roses. This ability to live a " charmed life " never happens at the bridge tables.....let alone in the wilds of Alaska, if one chooses to aimlessly wander off without food or maps.
Yours forever fascinated by The Human Condition, Dr. John

Thursday, 9 December 2010

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : THE McCANDLESS SYNDROME This particular disorder has finally been given a name , following the recent and sad story of Christopher McCandless, whose tragic and untimely death came to the attention of the world's leading psycho-analysts. Prior to this event, this syndrome had never been fully investigated or labelled. But that's all changed now, after this fool of a man left university, donated all his grad-school money to world hunger, and opted instead to become a hobo. He then decided to take on the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness without any experience or advice. During the 4 months he managed to stay alive, he did many stupid things, like camping in his car in a wash......where he almost drowned after a flash flood. But what really beggared belief was the fact that he never used a proper topo map, a failing which more than anything accounted for his demise.
Indeed, this syndrome involves an irrational and insane belief that one can take on difficult challenges in life without the need for any preparation or training. Stubbornness and stupidity combine to overwhelm victims to such an extent, that they need miracles to correct the mess they inevitably put themselves in.
Yet strangely, it is the bizarre world of bridge where this syndrome has been lurking undetected for years. Bridge players in their thousands have been suffering with this undiagnosed condition ever since they first took up the game. Despite being well short on experience, savvy and survival instincts, they continue to enter the harsh, hostile arenas of tournament bridge, completely unprepared and/or ill-prepared for what lies ahead. They plunge headlong into stupid contracts, getting axed at every turn, forever making suicidal sacrifices and being regularly done over by merciless opponents. In other words, these syndrome victims just thrash around in the darkness, constantly shooting themselves in the foot, and pressing self-destruct buttons left, right and centre. Moreover, no matter what advice and guidance is offered to them, they either refuse to listen, or if they do listen...... they refuse to take anything on board.
The whole idea of having a decent system card is completely alien to them, as was the map to McCardless. So these card less fools have no conventions, measures and counter-measures to take on the complicated systems of their opponents. Lambs to the slaughter is a phrase that immediately comes to mind. Tragically, victims with this disorder develop a farsical belief that no matter how appalling their results are now, better scores will be lying just around the corner.
To any casual observer, an obvious question arises : " What on earth causes players to be so stupid ? " The answer it seems requires one to read the diaries of Christopher McCardless......or better still, the book based on the diaries by Jon Krahauer entitled " Into the Wild ". Perhaps then, one might find the answer as to why so many bridge players so often succumb to crass stupidity and insane thinking.
As St.Peter gazed upon the new arrivals outside the pearly gates, he knew the time had come to let some of them in. Reading out the names of those deserving of a place in heaven, a small number of them shuffled towards the open gates. In a flash Bigot-Johnson barged and bruised his way through them in a desperate attempt to gate-crash the party. Before poor Peter realized what was happening Bigot was already inside. ready to explore the paradise that appeared before his very eyes.
Thrilled at the prospect of a life of dreams coming true, he couldn't wait to start playing bridge for what was going to be an eternity. Not only did Bigot find the streets paved with giant mosaic playing cards, but every book shop he stumbled across was dedicated to bridge literature. Even his own blog was on sale having been converted into a series of hard back copies. But more importantly for Bigot there was a swanky bridge club on every street corner open 24 hours of every day. Free membership, free sessions, professional players as stand-bys , simple systems to be used by all, handicap competitions, huge prizes, and TDs with wings...... were all on offer....and more. Could anything be better ?
Yes there was. Bigot had the opportunity to partner a doppelganger of himself. Now he could develop a partnership, where perfect understanding and harmony was possible A partnership which was firmly based on mutual respect and sycophantic love. With no need for food, sleep, work, and others to look after, this was non-stop bridge. Such unbelievable joy ! Within a matter of minutes he was inside the Genisis BC, just in time for the 5th duplicate session of the day. Opting to use the top-notch stand-by, he parked himself at nearest vacant table, and waited for his first opponents to arrive.
Then out of the blue two ethereal looking figures approached him dressed in white.......not sheets.....but white coats.
" Bigot-Johnson ....thank God you are alive " said one in a very soft and gentle voice.
" What do you mean ? " boomed Bigot, " I'm very much dead, for I remember being forcibly removed from the Slaughter House BC by my own henchmen, who were clearly threatening to kill me. "
" Good grief man......what were they saying ....? "
" Let's deal with this bastard right now.... and get him stoned! We really need to put his lights out this time for sure. "
" Listen Bigot, it was your birthday.... and yes, you were stoned. So stoned in fact, you were completely blotto. Don't you realise that for the last few hours you've been knocking at death's door, and we have just this moment managed to revive you......the nurses here have done a tremendous job. "
" Well, I'll be buggered........"

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT : Dr. John and Rebecca Rood will be holding reality assessment sessions at major bridge venues across the world over the forthcoming year. Players who constantly get berated by their partners can discover for sure just how good they are at the game, and whether criticisms received were justified or not. Impartial and objective assessments will be provided for a very modest consultation fee of £30 ( $50 ).

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

  • Hesitation : the best method ever devised to communicate information about your hand without having to move the bidding on
  • Hand : something an errant player will often see coming his way in the form of a clenched fist
  • Tank : what dull and slow players lower themselves into before submerging themselves in abstract thought and indecision
  • Protest : a well chosen euphemism to describe an intense verbal barrage aimed at a TD over a ruling that didn't meet with universal approval
  • Professionals : players who earn a living from bridge by eliminating mistakes from their game, which the rest of us carry on making........ time and time again
  • Truscott : a shortened version of an original, but infamous, outburst of " Trust Scott !! " . Way back in 1953 at Stourbridge BC the poor hapless Scott was sitting there with the doubleton AQ of spades over declarers KJ10 to six. The contract was 6S, and when declarer played a spade from dummy up to his jack, Scott went in with the Ace, having buried his queen of spades in amongst his clubs. When his partner realised what Scott had done, he screamed out aloud " Trust Scott.......... to let an unmakeable slam make............what a tosser ! ".
  • Promotion : what players foolishly spend their money on in an attempt to move up a rankings ladder that has no real significance or validity
  • Trump squeeze : the tightening of a player's bowel muscles in an attempt to release a huge build up of methane gas in a slow, quiet and controlled way

Monday, 6 December 2010

"... I think the TD just wants to remind me about the importance of being pleasant and friendly at the table ......."
  • Don't Expect This Lady To Bid Timidly....................... Sheila Tack
  • Over Christmas I Quit Bridge For The Church Choir.... Carol Singer
  • Losing At Bridge Makes Me Want To Cry......................Kat A. Wall
  • Don't Blame Me, I Didn't Foul Up.................................Ima Goody
  • We Can Still Win If We Finish With 12 Outright Tops....Hope E. Turnell
  • This Bridge Club Is Full Of Cheats................................Den O' Theaves
  • Even In Victory, She Puts A Dampener On Things.......Joy Rekker
  • Bridge Novices Win The National Pairs........................Omar Gaud
  • I'm Always Rushing Into Hopeless Contracts...............Ed Long
  • A Last Minute Team Replacement Saved The Day........Wyatt Knight
  • It's Time For A Team Change.......................................Ivor Ringer
  • I Know Your Wife Wont Let You Play Tonight.........Sherlock U. Inman
  • Was Leading Out That Ace A Wise decision ?..............May B. Knott
  • With A Hand Like That " Open Says Me "......................Al Laden
  • Speak Quietly Partner, They're In The Next Room.......Dora Jarr

Saturday, 4 December 2010

" I reckon this bridge club's zero tolerance policy has gone a bit too far.....this poor guy just forget to say hello...."

Friday, 3 December 2010

As a new fledgling bridge club in the backwaters of rural Lincolnshire, the self-appointed President and Chairman ( the one and only Bigot-Johnson ) took it upon himself to implement his own version of a Zero Tolerance Policy. He was desperate to bestow upon this small club a reputation for its extreme social harmony and friendliness. Bigot was hell-bent on making sure all that every member's behaviour was beyond reproach. In no circumstances whatsoever would he, or his appointed officers ( affectionately referred to as " henchmen " ), tolerate intolerance. So a radical ZT policy was implemented, solely designed to create a perfect atmosphere for all attending members , and visitors, to enjoy their bridge experience.
Bigot's goal therefore was to eradicate every type of unacceptable behaviour by effectively removing all trouble-makers. Codes of good practice were to be displayed everywhere, but adherence to these rules on best behaviour were not obligatory.....but clearly recommended. However, members were forced to recognise that keeping to these rules would make a significant contribution to creating an improved atmosphere :
- Acting with aplomb the part of congenial host to every newcomer arriving at the club and/or table
- Greeting everyone with a well-rehearsed smile
- Lying with conviction when praising partner or opponents over their bidding and/or play of the cards
- Fudging your system cards so as to give the appearance that actions at the table are in accordance with what is written down
But at the core of this new exciting ZTP lies a definition of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. Therefore, should any ordinary member commit one of the following wrongs, certain sanctions and punishments will be instantly applied ( as indicated below ) :
- Negative comments concerning opponents' or partners play ( instant flogging followed by 6 month ban )
- Constant and gratuitous lessons and analysis at the table ( removal of the offending tongue followed by a 1 year ban )
- Badgering, rudeness, insinuations, intimidation, profanity, threats or violence ( a frontal lobotomy followed by a 1-5 year ban )
- Loud and disruptive arguing with a director's ruling ( several days of unimaginable torture followed by a life ban )
- Any criticism of any kind no matter how small directed towards the club's ruling body ( immediate death by stoning )
Indeed, Bigot has put into his ZT policy document a requirement for all attending members, before play commences, to chant in unison the club's Mission Statement : " We are all committed. We believe in Bigot's vision. We know we must endeavour at all times to create a ultra friendly, pleasant, and peaceful atmosphere for every one's to feel at home in. All praise to Bigot-Johnson who helped to make this dream come true. "

Thursday, 2 December 2010

BIGOT -JOHNSON NOW RECALLS A FEW DUMB REMARKS MADE AT THE TABLES.................. ( Article by Bridgemeister Gibson )
- " I would have found that killing lead had I been paying attention to the bidding "
- " Try not to read anything into my hesitations "
- After being told that his 1H was an insufficient bid, the bemused player simply replied : " That's alright....because if I have to make it good, my partner will know I've got a poor suit "
- After going 3 off doubled in 4S for minus 800, the unfased declarer boldly announced : " I decided on an alternative line partner, because I knew the most obvious one was always going to leave me a trick short ! "
- " I would have led my singleton Ace partner, but you always keep telling me Aces are for biffing Kings "
- Asked why she didn't play out her AK of diamonds to defeat the opponent's 6NT contract, the raw novice proclaimed : " I have been repeatedly told to lead 4th highest from my longest and strongest suit against NT contracts "
- " I know I could improve my game if only I could learn to count "
- " Partner, it would be a grave error for you to assume that I know what I'm doing "
- " How can a pass be forcing ? "
- " I wouldn't partner anyone who wouldn't want me as their partner "
- A confused beginner turned towards a very knowlwedgeable RHO and asked : " I would very much appreciate it if you could enlighten me as to what you understand by my partner's bid ? "
- Asked what her partner's lead of the 7 of diamonds might be from, a flustered, tongue-tied lady replied ; " Errr...possibly 4th highest from middle of top of nothing "
- As a player reluctantly plonked down an opening pass on the table, he casually remarked : " I'm not particularly happy with that bid "
- " Partner, when I open the bidding in 3rd position, don't automatically presume I have an opening hand "
- " Listen closely partner.....when we open in NT, we must look to play the contract in a major.......but if we open a major, we must look to play the contract in NT "

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

SOME OF THE DUMBEST REMARKS I HAVE EVER HEARD............ ( Article by Bridgemeister Gibson )
Having just read Judy Kay-Wolff's highly amusing article on sporting gaffs, I couldn't help but reflect on some of the comments made at my table by both inexperienced players, and those somewhat careless with words. So here a few classic one-liners, which my faltering memory can still recall......
- " I know I should alert....... but I haven't the faintest idea as to what my partner's bid means "
- " I could have made game..... if I had known we were in a suit contract "
- " Was that your Ace I just ruffed partner ? "
- " What.....your redouble was for rescue ? .........Oh dear "
- " I should have played East for the Ace of spades....because I remember now......he did bid that suit "
- " I know this sounds silly partner....but when I added your losing trick count to mine........the total seemed so I decided to pass "
- Asked by a TD whether she was aware of her own hesitation before electing to pass, the old lady replied : " I didn't know if I was quite strong enough to bid...... because with no points I always pass quickly.... "
- " Oops....sorry partner ....I didn't see that opening two club bid of yours "
- Asked by a TD to confirm a revoke had taken place, when a club had been discarded on a spade, the inexperienced but honest newcomer replied : " Yes, but that was to undo my earlier revoke, when I discarded a spade on a club...."
- Having just gone off in a grand slam, a crestfallen declarer quickly apologised : " I took your 5S bid as showing 3 Aces, but yes ... I had agreed to play roman key card blackwood...."
- " I would have insulted you again partner, but I've run out of suitable expletives "
- Asked by an opponent as to the meaning of his partner's double, the newcomer replied : " I really think it would be far more sensible if you asked him "
- Asked by his partner what was the significance behind his play ( in 3rd position ) of the 3 of spades, he received the reply : " You had no desire to win the trick ?..."
- " Listen partner....never move any of my pre-emptive know I only make them on filth "