Sunday, 13 February 2011

( The scene is Las Vegas , the venue of the World's Pairs Championship, where contestants beam in from all over. Bridge authorities have eliminated cheating in all its forms, with players having to input their system cards into the computer's data control bank for rigorous verification, vetting and approval. Nothing is left to chance or human error. )
Player GB127 enters the North booth. He sits down in a metal chair in front of a table with its flat top touch button keyboard and screen. His partner GB176 is already positioned in the South booth ready to play the first hand in this opening six board 3 hour session. He activates his system card , and a screen message pops up giving clearance for use. No rogue convention violations to report here.
A sharp high pitched tone announces the start of the session. North surveys his hand, but it is West to bid first. His " one club " bid appears on North's screen but with the " red alert " light flashing repeatedly. He gently touches the " decipher " button. Instantly, the screen reveals 3 pages of possible meanings from this multi-17 way bid. With so much material to wade through, North sighs in despair. Unsure as to what to do, he touches the " help " button which flags up the opponents' recommended defences to such a bid. Again, the details provided on the screen resemble unintelligible gobbledigook, far too complex to comprehend. Eventually, he decides on one of his own crude defensive options, being the weak 2-level jump overcall, despite the fact his hand doesn't quite fit this system bid.
East looks scornfully at North's 2H call. Checking its credentials on screen it appears to be nothing more than an irritating, space consuming, interference bid. Surely these English simpletons with their straightforward bids are not going to topple two top Americans using their far superior poison gas chamber system ? Yes, 2s is the automatic response here.
South, with a hand brimming full of top spades, wonders what the hell this bid is all about, but with the screen flashing the red alert light he knows full well that the bid is both meaningless and artificial. The "decipher" button confirms that it is an enquiry waiting bid with 7 possibilities regarding its values and shape. Out of curiosity he touches the " help " button to see what countermeasures the opposition have listed as available. The 2 ORDs flagged up make for curious reading being of no relevance at all. He hits the " Big D " button with a confident smile on his face.
West is alarmed over its punitive nature. Thinking what a bastard, the booth's Negative Thought Probe instantly relays the information to the TD auto controller, who places a bold large letter message on his screen. " CODE 2 VIOLATION : PENALTY ONE HALF-TOP ". But West's problem was bigger than this. He had opened on a super-light hand, at least a King short of his system's requirements. Whatever bid he makes now is simply a case of choosing the lesser of 6 evils. After agonising for over 3 minutes he bids 2NT which at least describes his hand as flat.
Simultaneously North and South touch the " time violation " query button, typing in " alleged gross hesitation ". The TD controller instantly responds with the message " VIOLATION CONFIRMED " calculating that the maximum time West was allowed for his bid had been exceeded by 47.5 seconds. Then a ranked list of " RIGHTS OPTIONS " appears on the screen with " EAST TO PASS ON HIS NEXT BID " being the one selected as highly recommended.
North hits the " Big D " button without a moment's thought. East and West duly pass. North reluctantly passes having no where to go. Already the bidding has consumed over 9 minutes of the allotted 30 for the hand. This gave North South 20 minutes to inflict a slow and painful torture upon their hapless opponents. The carnage was brutal as the nightmare prospect of a 1400 penalty became an embarrassing reality.
Within seconds of the final trick being played, the Negative Thought Probes in both the East and West booths went into frenzied over-time, as both these shell-shocked players could not restrained themselves from filling their minds with unrepeatable expletives.
This indeed is bridge in 2400 AD.

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