Wednesday, 30 November 2011


( Almost a decade ago , a most strange and unusual case came before the High Court in Manchester where the captain of a losing team, Percy Pantopod, filed a lawsuit against Bigot-Johnson and his team of coffee housing cheats. Percy made allegation after allegation concerning Bigot's " unprofessional, erratic and outrageous conduct ", which had forced the plaintiff to concede the match, despite being in a winning position. The staged theatrics were designed to undermine the opponents' focus and concentration, and to give them misleading and incorrect information at every opportunity. A short extract from the trial's transcript appears below, with Bigot of course conducting his own defence. )
Prosecuting Counsel (PC) : Yes it is my contention that you Bigot won this match by foul play. Your underhand, cheating tactics were clearly designed to disturb, rattle and intimidate your opponents, who were all of a delicate, fragile and sensitive disposition.
B-J : Let's face it..... this bunch of namby pambies have got no backbone..or play a high pressure game like bridge. These whinging cry babies even freaked when I even heaved a heavy sigh, pointed my finger, and squinted my eyes. They're nothing more than a pathetic rabble of highly strung, over-reactive, over-sensitive losers, who can't stand the heat of battle...
PC : But your behaviour went so far beyond the acceptable bounds of table eccentricity it was unrelentingly off putting and unnerving....
B-J : You're having me on ? You're pulling my chain....aren't you ?
PC : So what then do you call slamming your hand down in disgust ( with its apparant lack of points ) only to start fidgeting about on your chair, and cursing God at your wretched misfortune
B-J : I only like to be dealt big hands....
PC : And please explain why you felt the need to pick your nose, scratch your groin area, strum your fingers on the table edge. and hum in an grossly impatient manner every time the opponents had a difficult decision to make ?
B-J : These actions were all necessary........ behavioural ploys which have always enabled me to retain my composure and cool at critical moments.....hell....aren't I entitled to think carefully about what to do next ?
PC : But what about the time you pulled out of your inside pocket a packet of Viagra tablets, only to swallow the whole lot and then rush off to the toilet like a man about to explode...
B-J : Yes....I thought they were my calming tablets but then.... a certain member pointed out I had taken the wrong pills !
PC : And what about the so called of which had you keeling over onto the floor gasping for breath and frothing at the mouth
B-J : Those fits were piques of rage at my partner's lunacy......and according to my doctor, stress and anger tend to affect my balance and bring on my acid reflux
PC : And is it proper for you and your team mates to be all putting on hand puppets ?...... all of which then engaged in mime, gestures and funny animal talk , deliberately engineered to pass over misinformation to your opponents , but with precise albeit unauthorised information flowing freely in the other direction
B-J : Those puppets were our lucky mascots......especially my penguin....... and what ever they discussed was between themselves and had nothing to do with bridge ....... any way there is nothing in law under which we can be sued.....Percy can't claim damages against us....... because we have not committed any civil wrong
Judge : Well, that's where you, Bigot, are wrong. In negligence you owe a duty of care to your neighbour....and your neighbour is any person you ought to have in your contemplation at the time you were about to engage in an activity , where it was reasonably foreseeable that harm would come to that person as a result of a careless act or omission. Indeed , your repeated acts amounted to both reckless and deliberate attempts to harm your neighbourly opponents in a devastating and psychological way........ clearly with an intention to deprive them of possible glory and any further progress in the competition. You were in breach of a duty of care to act in accordance with the rules of the game.....which I might add..... include rules regarding fair play and best behaviour.
Therefore, I intend to award Percy the full amount of damages he is more
B-J : Bugger....

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

  • We Got To Beat This Pair, Partner ! ....................Camilla Highwater
  • Guerrilla Bridge In Missouri...............................J. Hawker
  • With Him In Our Team We Can't Lose..................Ivor Ringer
  • Partner, Stop Getting Yourself Worked Up ?.......Ulrika Svett

  • Rubber Down ? I Know What's Needed................Lynsey Doyle
  • How Do Rate Our Chances, Partner ? ...................Frank Lee Horfall
  • They're Planning To Throw Me Out .....................Evan Ferbid
  • I Love To Spice Up The Bidding..........................Cory Anderman
  • Partner, You've Got A Serious Problem................Bea Hoe
  • Cheating Players Have Big Ears..........................Cezz Noddie

Sunday, 27 November 2011

THE WONDER OF BRIDGE...................... ( A short article by Dr.Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
The wonder of bridge is the infinite number of mysteries one has to unravel and solve. So many hands where elusive games and slams are missed, quietly slipping by , despite our best efforts to find them in competitive bidding auctions. So many secrets to discover in the art of making tricks out of nothing. Lots more to fathom out when deceptive bids and plays simply add to the confusion and complexity that already exist. Indeed it is the mysteries of bridge which have made the game into the most sublimely beautiful and intriguing one ever devised. Time and time again we set off on a short journey completely " in the dark ", looking for information, evidence, clues, inferences and our sixth sense to help " shed some light " on the best way to proceed in order to reach our goal.
As Albert Einstein once said, and clearly he had bridge in mind, " The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it, and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed ."
So yes, Bridge indeed is both a science and an art. The game's exquisite beauty can never be fully appreciated or seen until years of experience begin to open our eyes. Each hand in itself is a mystery to explore and solve. Each path we take is full of hidden traps and unexpected consequences. Success of course depends on discovering all the hidden truths, and then like a skilled magician using this knowledge to conjure up an even more amazing trick.

Friday, 25 November 2011

A MOST REMARKABLE EXCHANGE OF WORDS WITNESSED BY ALL AT THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE BC's NOVEMBER AGM ......... ( between the chairman Bigot-Johnson and a rather disgruntled member )
DM : Chairman.....why does this committee hold meetings behind closed doors, and in such secret ? Members, like me, want to see openness and transparency
B-J : Are you stark raving committee meeetings are a recipe for disaster and widespread discontent. Such meetings don't achieve anything. In fact they do more harm than good
DM : Surely, we members have a right to know about what's going on....and how decisions are reached and carried out
B-J: The Minutes are always published , informing members about what they need to know
DM : But who is best placed to know what members need to know ?
B-J : We are of elected members
DM : So how come the minutes are scant, sanitised, extremely brief reports of what went on ?
B-J : Members only need to know about the things that add up to very little , and nothing of issues which would be of great concern and worry to them
DM : I'm gobsmacked....
B-J : Listen...there is a law that governs the way the civil service is run. It is the Law of Inverse Relevance. This means in simple terms that the more we ( as a committee ) intend to do something drastic with huge implications and risks, then the less said about it the better.
DM : But what's wrong with being open and transparent ?
B-J : Are you thick or what ?.....You just don't get it. An open committee meeting is a contradiction. If it is open then a proper meeting will not take place. A committee can not function properly unless it is allowed to do so in secret. Fears of false reporting, ugly rumours, and defamation actions would severely inhibit individual committee members from speaking up.......
DM : I don't buy that argument at all....
B-J : Well, let's get back to your misguided view that members have a right to know......what a load of bollocks....most members cherish far more the right to remain ignorant.......because let's face it the truth hurts.....knowledge can be a dangerous thing...... it causes panic...... too much knowledge can create confusion and complexity. Having knowledge and not using it wisely only racks us with guilt. Moreover ignorance is bliss, and in my opinion it also has a certain dignity.
DM : But...
B-J : Dont " but " me sir.... giving away knowledge to your type is like giving whiskey to an alcoholic
DM : Well, it seems to me that you lot are obviously up to no good....that you've something to hide....and that there are major problems boiling up you're desperate to keep the lid on
B-J : What a muppet head you are....most of the people on this committee haven't a bloody clue about what is really going on's only Ronnie, Reggie and I that know what's what. Therefore if they don't know what they are doing, then they can never know when they're doing wrong. Now this means they can all leave a committee meeting under the false belief that what they were doing was right.......and everyone is happy. So clearly, if ignorance is good for them, then it must be good for you.
DM : I'm flabbergasted......
B-J : Yes..... and I'm all through with you....... " Hey Ronnie ".....please escort this ex-member off the premises.....this AGM doesn't need smart arses like him sabotaging the show.......and so let's move on to the next item on the agenda ...... a long overdue motion to put committee officers on the club's executive payroll.....
BRIDGE FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE.......... ( A really true story from Bridgemeister Gibson )
A few years ago I was playing in a Sunday league division 2 intercity match ( team of 8 ) away at York. With several other league matches also being played at the same venue , one of our pairs ended up as the N/S sitting pair at a solitary table, in a small room downstairs from the main playing area. They, of course , played the moving opponents throughout the whole afternoon, but in doing so were denied the opportunity of moving around themselves and enjoying a change of scenery.
At the end of match a disgruntled North approached our captain : " I want to register a complaint to the Yorkshire Bridge Association "
A concerned captain asked : " What on earth was the problem ? "
" Well ", he said, " We've been severely disadvantaged having to play in that room all the time ..."
" How come........was it too cold ? "
The reply was as swift as it was cutting. " As I was about to explain..... by being stuck in that room our scores suffered badly .....we were the only bloody pair not to be in a position to hear what was being said about the hands on the other tables ! "

Thursday, 24 November 2011

THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY.......................
  • Business double : often a very large whiskey to celebrate pulling off a superb contract
  • Take a view : the process by which a decision can be reached without having to consider the evidence or determine the truth
  • Vacant spaces : what usually lies between most bridge players' ears
  • Half trick : an early withdrawal from congress
  • Tap : a manner commonly used by players to persuade their partners to lend them some cash
  • Tight : the term given to players who can't be "tapped "
  • Analysis : a high level cognitive skill lost to the run-of-the-mill bridge player
  • Control : what players fail to do with their anger and frustration , allowing their emotions to run riot instead

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Yes, it does seem odd .....why would anyone with a modicum of common sense want to be involved with club committees ? .......The posts supposedly offer no money, no kudos, no joy...... only numerous meetings where painful tedium becomes utterly suffocating ..... not to mention the regular volleys of verbal flak that comes from disgruntled members, who claim they never see anything in the way of positive outcomes.
Yet for me , being chairman of the Slaughter House Bridge Club, I wallow in the power and privileges that come from being in charge. And therefore as a favour to those who crave power, desperate to use it for their personal advantage, profit and gain, here is my ultimate guide on committee take-overs, and how to exercise and retain total control :
1. Gather together an inner circle of club members, preferably all your close relatives and reliable friends
2. Wait till either the present committee is in trouble , or when membership enthusiasm for AGM's is at an all time low
3. Collectively stand for election at the next AGM, ensuring that all key posts on the committee are specifically targeted
4. If in the rare event certain posts are being contested, then it is essential to recruit easily duped and gullible members to bolster your support base with their gerrymandered votes
5. Once elected, you will need to drive out rogue committee members who (a) are not willing to toe the line, or (b) are posing a serious threat, as for instance by showing dissent, challenging decisions, and informing members of what is really going on behind closed doors
6. Ensure that all committee meetings are held in secret, where only harmless sanitised details ever make their way into the published minutes
7. It is essential that the inner circle use dark corners and passageways to arrive at crucial decisions which then can be rubber stamped ( fait accompli style ) by the full committee later on
8. Always look after one another, because nepotism can only survive if there is a collective effort to protect any committee member, who is under attack for malpractice
9. Rely on misinformation and disinformation to confuse and confound critics
10. If in the event some nosey and enterprising members get close to the truth, you must use trumped up charges of disciplinary breaches in order to expel them
11. It is essential to tighten up the constitution and/or regulations straightaway, so as to provide the committee with carte blanche powers to do what it likes
12. Introduce a whole raft of zero tolerance policies , some of which will help promote an all out war against unwarranted criticism of the committee, its officers or members
13. Employ security personnel to restrict entry of members classed as undesirable, and to eject members whose behaviour on site has put them in the same despicable class
14. Shorten disciplinary hearings to instantly convened on-the-spot corridor discussions , lasting no more than 2 minutes before calling in security to carry out the sanctions imposed
15. Issue on a regular basis persuasive propaganda material that cleverly shifts the blame for the club's current troubles on opposition members, who are ideally suited to be used as scapegoats prior to their imminent removal
16. Strengthen your power base by replacing troublesome committee members with hard-core and easily brainwashed supporters
17. Remain in office as long as possible to ensure the habit of abusing power intensifies to an addictive level
18. Always look to use patronage, privileges and favouritism to reward those you would rather have on your side than in opposition
19. Keep convincing yourself that strong authoritarian leadership is what the club needs, and that democracy is a wishy washy old moded concept that achieves nothing
20. Build up sizeable slush funds in case bribery becomes the only way to silence whistleblowers, or in the event of a public relations disaster to hire specialist lawyers and/or contract killers
Indeed, I have been running the Slaughter House Bridge for several years now......and very successfully, I might add..... but I must confess that so much of the above comes from the wonderful teachings of Sir Francis Dashwood, whose Hellfire Bridge Club established a reputation that still continues to span the world even today , long after its sad demise when unknown arsonists decided enough was enough .
REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG..................
Dear Rebecca,
Why is it my partner rounds on me for opening on an 11 count, and then several boards later he condemns me for not opening on a 10 count ? As a relative beginner I'm so confused......please help me.
Yours in a pickle, J.R.
Dear JR ,
Opening on minimum values is I'm afraid all down to judgement. There are no hard and fast rules you can apply. Common sense must prevail after weighing up one or more of the following factors....
- seat position
- who's vulnerable and who's not
- state of the match...... or whether averages or tops have now become a priority
- rule of 19 or the Zar point count
- partnership agreement ( eg. light openers in third position )
- importance of maintaining partnership trust and harmony
- trick potential in that QJ1098....Axx....Kxx....xx is far superior to Kxx...Kxx...Kxx...Jxxx
- need to provide partner with a safe lead against the opponent's contract
- how lucky you feel
- quality and class of your opponents
- how much faith and belief you have in " aggressive " bidding
- whether you have an obvious rebid available ( or not )
Indeed, there is much to think about and judgement often requires vision, experience and wisdom all working together. So yes. it is not an easy call but not to open on AKxxx...xx....K109x ...xx at any vulnerability would be a heinous crime.
Yours always a believer in getting one's bids in early, Rebecca

Monday, 21 November 2011

" Our club has a mission.....and that is to get rid of riff raff, tosspots and troublemakers "
" Oh dear.....I thought this club was all about playing bridge "



Sunday, 20 November 2011

Many top players have questioned whether Johnny has what it takes to join their ranks. Well, after this exquisite demonstration of card skill the boot is now firmly on the other foot : have they got what it takes to stand alongside him.
Here was a hand where many of these top players lost the plot , but it only took Johnny 10 seconds to find the answer.
Opening 4H, Johnny's 8 point hand was : Jxx....AQJ10987........xx.....x
Partner's dummy hand was a rather useful : AQx...Kx..........Jxx.....xxxxx
On a diamond opening lead, Johnny could see three immediate losers and an near certain spade loser no matter who held the king. Even if the King was onside with the queen finesse holding, there was no way of making two more spades unless the LHO held Kx.
However, at the table Johnny claimed at trick 3, when he announced that if his LHO opponent held 4 clubs and the King of spades the contract was there ON A SQUEEZE.
Opponents' best defence was to take the first two diamonds and force declarer to ruff the third round in hand. Trick 4 involved conceding a club, with defender's best defence to play back a heart. Letting it run dummy's king , to set up the first club ruff. Back to dummy with the diamond finesse of the queen, for a second club ruff.
Now comes two rounds of hearts pulling opponents trumps.
Johnny with 3 cards play has 1H, and Jx of spades. Dummy is down to Ax of spades AND OF COURSE THAT PRECIOUS 4th CLUB. Not surprisingly, the distraught LHO is frantically looking for a white flag, holding Kx of spades and the master club. At trick 11 when the last heart is played......the contract was there for the taking.
What a man. What a player. What a genius.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

( about the
truly shocking
things that
can happen to
bridge players )
GAME ! )

Thursday, 17 November 2011

( Ivor Sharptongue was appealing against a 3 month suspension for foul mouthing opponents, who he believed were employing a coded signalling system by subtle placement of their bidding cards. Bizarrely, Bigot-Johnson offered his services to speak up on his behalf, with Ivor only too pleased to accept. A short extract from Bigot's highly persuasive speech appears below.)
" I put it to you....that any player can get angry....that is easy.......only to give another player a verbal telling off. But to do this in the right context, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right asking too much of any player who has got his dander up.
According to Plato........and who would argue with him.....wrongdoing is based on ognorance. This would suggest that a player could not deliberately, in full conscious knowledge, undertake a verbal bollocking of another, for that would be illogical: players generally.....and what is good. The only explanation therefore is that an angry player commits an inappropriate, albeit aggressive act, without full knowledge of what that " good " is.
In contrast, Aristotle thought morality requires cultivating certain virtues and developing one's character.....what is termed virtue ethics. There aren't necessarily fixed notions of what is right and wrong in any particular situation, but rather that morality is a skill that we learn. Like all skills, of course, there are times when bridge players don't get it quite right ....even after years of practice !
Moreover, there are many things that influence the morality of an action. For instance, being selfless might commonly be seen as good, but it may not always be appropriate. If someone has a destructive drug habit, then generously gifting them money may not be the wisest thing. Similarly, by challenging and verbally confronting a soft-cheater or unethical opponent might at the time be perceived as being a good thing to do.
However, if the victim of the accusation has a sensitive disposition, convinced of their own inocence, or ignorant of their alleged wrongdoing, then giving them a stern lecture or verbal condemnation may not be the good way to about about expressing one's grievance. This is why TDs are always there to be called upon.
The problem is all too plain to see. How to keep emotions and instincts in check. Learning to bite one's tongue. Learning to hold one's tongue. If bridge players were to embrace Aristotle's philosophy, then they need to apply a rule of thumb approach. Since most inappropriate actions involve an imbalance of sorts......being too rash....too extravagant.....too honest and blunt....too critical......then moral actions need to strike a balance, finding that golden mean between opposites. Doing or saying nothing has no merits whatsoever , but striking that mean will depend upon the context of the situation. Speaking out requires a certain bravery which can either involve remaining calm under provocation, or rushing into battle alone. Sometimes ...even adopting the middle way may not turn out to be the good way, or the right approach....but it's sure as hell a reasonable place to start.
This poor man , I feel, is only guilty of choosing an action that was in hindsight a " bad " call .....he made a judgement on the spur of the moment which to him seemed correct and good. So let those..... who have never committed sins themselves while playing bridge .........cast Ivor out onto the street....... depriving the club of a man who is prepared to challenge and confront those guilty of soft cheating and unehical play. "

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

ANOTHER MIND BLOWING TWO MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH BIGOT-JOHNSON ( The radical and extrovert chairman of the infamous Slaughter House Bridge Club )...............
Interviewer (I ) : I hear on the grapevine that you've nominated your club for the EBU's prestigious " most social and friendly bridge club of the year " award.
B-J : Yes....and why not......given all the hard work Reggie, Ronnie and I have put into bringing about a complete culture change . We were deeply committed to ridding the club of all those we consider anti-social, awkward and aggressive.
I : Well, just how many members have you got rid of ...?
B-J : Well over a 100...
I : So what members have you got left then ?
B-J : Just the committee and few new starters , who we managed to sign up last week
I: So tell did you go about this brutal and bizarre form of cleansing.....?
B-J : Well, Ronnie and Reggie simply set about the process with the fierce determination of rabid rottweilers and the wild savagery of crazed cannibals
I : My what did all this entail ?
B-J : Floggings, beatings, torture, incarceration, trial by ordeal, public humiliation, castration, damn good whippings, extreme forms of harrassment, character assassinations, and a whole load of other things involving long, sharp, pointy things....
I : Blimey....wouldn't it have been easier to close the club and start all over again ?
B-J : What ....and spoil their fun ? ......But seriously it was imperative to serve a warning on those who needed to toe the line
I : So how come that warning was not heeded, with dozens more getting same awful treatment before being permanently eliminated
B-J : The buggers started to protest bitterly about what we were naturally the committee took the view their behaviour was totally unacceptable, extremely negative and very confrontational
I : Well, please correct if I'm wrong....but surely the kind of behaviour you were adopting was completely contradictory to your aims of creating a club atmosphere, where harmony prevailed, and where social and friendly relationships could be successfully nurtured ?
B-J : In my world the ends always justifiy the means....
I : Heavens above .... you could shag me with a rag man's trumpet....
B-J : that's something else Ronnie could add to his list of corrective measures
I : Oh my God....I'm done with you....I'm off
B-J : But what about my money ?
I : Get stuffed....
B-J : Wow....that's another great idea for Ronnie to consider.....he 'll be so grateful

Monday, 14 November 2011

REBECCA ROOD'S MAILBAG...................
Dear Rebecca,
What the dickens does one do when partner opens 1S ( showing a 5 card major ) and you are looking at a motley 6 count ; x.....Jxxxx....Qxx....Kxxxx ?
What choices does one have ? " Pass " fearful of partner holding a ripping 19 count ? Or bid 1NT fearful of partner rebidding 2S, fully aware that the opponents could hold the majority of trumps ?
So then....what would an expert like you choose , and why ?
Yours always bemused , Ann Fretting
Dear Ann,
This hand is a straightforward 1NT response, for there is always the possibility partner might well have a 4 card D/H suit, which he/she will surely bid at the 2 level. And so what if 2S is the next bid you hear. If this is a field bid then most pairs will be in the same 5-1 trump fit.
Mind you we have a so called expert pair at our club who have developed an excellent sysem for dealing with this type of hand you describe. An instant 1NT response shows a hand with 2 spades, whereas a delayed " tank" 1NT reply flags up a singleton or void in spades.
If it is the latter , the opener can now show his lowest 4 lowest card suit by bidding quickly, and his lowest 3 card suit by entering the tank from his side. If responser hears 2C or 2H, then a much better spot has been found. If the lowest 3 card suit is diamonds, responder must bid a quick 2H showing five, or a slow 2H with just four. If the latter, then opener with only 2 hearts might well choose to go back to his spade suit.
Indeed, this system really does work very well, but only if you are a completely unethical player and all round toss pot.
Yours Rebecca " I love to expose low life cheating dogs " Rood

Sunday, 13 November 2011

  • We Run Our Club With An Iron Fist.........................Des Spot & Ty Rant
  • She Never Speaks To Her Ex-Partner.......................Helda Grudge
  • Taking This Pair On Could Be Death Of Us................Bonnie Ann Clyde
  • Revokes Are Like Waving A Red Rag To Him...........Willie Turnbull
  • How Will We Do Against These Lower Teams ? ........Winsome I. Hope
  • How I Caused My Partner To Faint..........................Shona Mycock
  • My Partner Really Believes In Protecting................Johnny Waring
  • Bridge At The Golden City Finals.............................Ida Hoe
  • I Do Love Big Turn Outs.........................................Morris Merrier
  • Please Partner, Get Out Of My Sight And Go............Farrah Way

Saturday, 12 November 2011

THE PERFECT PARTNER .................... ( By Dr.Sigmund T. Schukelgruber )
Way back on this blog an article appeared entitled " Find me the perfect partner ", which attempted to outline all the most desirable qualities you could possibly wish for in the person sitting directly opposite you at the table. Well, the other day I stumbled across a poem called " If ", a wonderful little gem originally appearing in an rather old fashioned bridge book " You Can Play and Laugh ".
I was so inspired by it I had decided to give it my own twist, and reproduce it in the my unique and off beat style :
" IF "
If you can hold your tongue
When stray and awful bidding
Gets you wretched scores
If you can learn
To spot the dangers
And ignore the shams
If you can bluff
To achieve the impossible
Or take a 1000
To save a slam
Then hell man
You're the kinda partner I want
If you can forge plans
With determined resolution
By combining risk with reason
If you can steer between
The rocks of awkward distribution
To guide a contract home
If you can halt when caution's needed
Yet know when to charge
And swerve
If you can double
Yet show restraint
And if can hold your nerve
When doubled by the best
Then hell man
You're the kinda partner I need
And if you can bid and play
With level headed calmness
Keeping emotions under check
If you can keep the devil out
And give opponents due respect
And if you can lose a game with grace
Yet never boast about a win
If you can resist the need to sulk
When luck is stacked against you
But silently acknowledge
When good fortune comes your way
Then hell man
You're the kinda of partner
......I would die for

Thursday, 10 November 2011


One of the most common symptoms of post middle-aged bridge players is the growing belief that everything around them is falling apart, with bridge of course the sole focus of their concerns. As their bodies and brains begin to falter, they experience what we psycho-therapists call the post 50 existential crisis.

What was once a world of pure joy and great excitement, bridge has now become a living nightmare which leaves them completely bereft and disappointed. Their results rarely get above average and nothing ever seems to go their way. As they see their reputation crumbling away to that of a numpty, self doubt and self loathing creep in. They look forlornly at the up and coming younger players, who seem to toy with them like master puppeteers pulling sharply at their strings.

One would assume that victims with this condition would be asking themselves the big questions like " why am I still bothering to play this game ? " and " why can't my vast experience and bridge knowledge deliver good results ? " ...... but no. The awful reality is that they become totally preoccupied and obsessed by the little things. My cards are grubby. My partner's finger strumming is doing my head in. Why is that opponent taking an age to bid? I'm not happy with the way the TD ruled against us. The beer served here is always luke warm. Tragically, acute symptoms of the existential crisis include disturbing delusions, such as everyone in this damn club is a cheat, and I know there are members here who are really out to get me.

Yet no matter how extreme their symptoms the diagnosis is basically the same : their game of bridge , like life itself, has started to fall apart. They perceive the tiny cracks in their bidding and play as mile wide chasms. Every mistake consolidates their belief their game has gone to pieces, which of course converts a delusion into a self-fulfilling prophecy, because as the mistakes pile up the panic sets in. Once players afflicted with this disorder reach that point where they see their fading bridge status sliding irreversibly down hill into a pit of faceless non-entities , the crisis may well result in attempted suicides.
When players allow bridge to become their sole focus of their existence , only to believe there's nothing left to experience other than heartache and pain , it is no wonder they completely crack up .....leaving me and my colleagues with a hopeless task of trying to put these numpty humpty dumpties back together again .

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

DEFINING A GOOD BRIDGE PLAYER : ASTUTE OBSERVATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.................. ( Research by Bridgemeister Gibson )
- A good player is like a man with one watch for he knows what the time is : a poor player is a man with many watches, for he can only guess

- A wise bridge player is one who after walking in the rain will arrive home refreshed, whereas everyone else will arrive home wet and bedraggled

- An expert player can see more from the bottom of a deep gorge than a fool can see from a clear mountain top
- The best way to define a good player is the one who makes the next-to-last mistake
- Good players are wise : poor players are otherwise
- Experts always plan move on to become better players : weak ones aimlessly stay where they are
- Strange how good players encounter less damaging doubles than others
- Good players will use approaching headlights to make the right move : rabbits just simply freeze and await their fate

Sunday, 6 November 2011

" Now folks .....if you're gonna play this game with
a couple of bunnies........then it will be definitely
worth your while if they're ex-Playboy ones "

Saturday, 5 November 2011

WHAT IS A SOCIAL BRIDGE CLUB ? ........... ( Carp unearths the truth )
- A place where players never hurt other people's' feelings unintentionally
- A hunting ground ideally suited for patient wolves
- A large play pen for adults
- A centre for approved cheating
- One of the last bastions of male chauvinism
- A hot bed where all forms of discrimination take place, even against one's partner
- A gathering place for players who are convinced that they are both interesting and talented, when in fact the opposite is true
- A cauldron of rank hypocrisy and shameful double standards
- A place where men spend all their time thinking angrily about one tiny mistake
- A strange world where even a one-eyed player has no advantage over the blind

Thursday, 3 November 2011

TRICKY ISSUES ( PART 2) : DRAFTING A CONSTITUTION TO DEAL WITH OFF SITE MISCONDUCT ................... ( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )
All club committees recognise and acknowledge the need to operate within the boundaries and perimeters laid down by the club's constitution. Rules and regulations capable of coping and dealing with all disciplinary issues need to be sufficiently wide , yet precise and clear in their meaning.
If , for instance, disciplinary proceedings can only be initiated when (a) letters of complaints (b) from members are (c) accompanied by supporting witness statements, three criteria have to be met. So how then does a club proceed when off site misconduct by a member involves a lack of credible witnesses, strangers as victims, and information which comes via a newspaper article ? It seems the committee's hands might well be tied.
What if misconduct , which involved an altercation between two members over a private matter, took place on a street corner ? What if the club has been made aware that some of its members have being ridiculed or defamed in e-mail correspondence between other club members ? What if nasty and vindictive comments were being made for all the world to see on twitter, facebook or website blog ? Has the committee the power to intervene and take disciplinary action , when no one has made a formal written complaint ?
Even though a committee might feel it is correct and proper to initiate an investigation under the disciplinary procedures laid down, has it got the authority to do so ? If the existing constitutional rules clearly suggest otherwise , the committee would be acting beyond its powers. The solution of course is to extent the scope of its powers but with all the necessary checks and balances put in place. But now we come to the nub of the problem : how to draft amendments which are sensible, unambiguous, legally watertight, effective, but with members' rights adequately safeguarded.
Drafting such an amendment, in my opinion, requires key phrases to be put in place :
- " In exceptional circumstances " .............this limits the application of the amendment to rare cases
- " the committee reserves its right " ..........this implies that the use this amendment is not automatic but discretionary
- " to consider taking disciplinary action " .... again not an automatic response but one based on careful thought and thorough review
- " providing the following criteria has been met " .....this will help to restrict the committee's powers and to provide the necessary safeguards to the members' rights.
Criteria may include the following :
- written proof of the reported misconduct arrived from a reliable source
- misconduct amounted to a serious crime , or a civil wrong which caused substantial damage to the alleged victim(s)
- misconduct has brought, or might well bring, the club into disrepute
- misconduct has caused, or might well cause, social unrest and tension within the club
- misconduct warranted disciplinary action, in that suspension or expulsion are both sanctions considered to be within the band of reasonable responses
Often clubs would be well advised to draft an amendment with its own supplementary notes to assist the interpretation and meaning of the words. Alternative drafts could also be drawn up , asking the membership to recommend which one would be most workable and acceptable. Consultation may be necessary as well as seeking outside expert opinion.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Off site misconduct can directly impact on the club if it can be established that the victims are members of the club, or have very close links with some of its members. However, when the victims are complete strangers then the legal position of the club initiating disciplinary procedures against the member concerned is far from clear.
When victims are club members , it is inevitable that the committee will receive a written complaint, usually accompanied by witness statements . The rank and file members will be greatly reassured that breaches of rules relating to conduct will not be tolerated, and that guilty parties will receive appropriate warnings, or in more serious cases the loss of certain rights, involving possible suspensions and/or expulsions. However, when the victims are strangers, then the incident will be perceived has having nothing to do with the club or its members, often being classified as a " private matter ".
Yet there has to be circumstances where off site misconduct will have a detrimental impact on the club , albeit in an indirect way. Indeed, many examples can be drawn from employment law tribunal cases, where off site misconduct resulted in dismissals. which were held to be both appropriate and fully justified.
For instance, a serious assault charge and/or conviction would raise serious questions about the member's ability to curb his temper during a table altercation, and therefore his ability to fulfil his contractual obligation to adhere to the club's best behaviour rules in the future. The committee could further argue that his presence at the club would place vulnerable and sensitive players in a state of fear or fearful apprehension. Obviously, there is a need to balance the interests of the offending member with those who might be genuinely unnerved by his presence. There is always the risk that huge schisms can be created within the club over a contentious decision to overlook any form of reprimand. This could also cause shock, alarm and resentment to many who clearly opposed such leniency. Indeed, there is nothing worse than a permanent nasty atmosphere pervading a place where people come to enjoy a game of cards.
Without a doubt the club has a contractual if not statutory obligation for the welfare and safety of its members . This in turn requires the club's governing body to keep the offender well away from the premises.
Moreover the club is entitled to protect both its reputation and financial position, which could be under threat if members started to leave , by virtue of the fact that the club allowed the offender back in. Failure to implement a ban could easily expose the club to bad publicity and loss of reputation. Every committee must therefore deal very firmly with members who intend to bring, or have already brought , the club into disrepute. Nevertheless, club committees have to tread very carefully when facing and dealing with this problem of misconduct off site.
Firstly, there is the need to avoid or ignore malicious gossip, rumour and hearsay. Information received must come from a legitimate and respected source , which may of course include a reputable newspaper. Facts would have to be thoroughly checked out and corroborated. There would have to be strong arguments and irrefutable grounds on which to claim the club, or its members, would be adversely affected, if the offender is obliged to face an internal disciplinary hearing.
On top of all that there is a need to wait for criminal proceedings to be completed if only to establish the person's guilt, although in a civil dispute the verdict can be made on the balance of probabilities, as opposed to beyond all reasonable doubt. Clearly if the misconduct involves a serious crime it is easier for a club to take decisive action. In less extreme cases, the club would be well advised to get the case analysed by legal experts in order to check whether suspension or dismissal is well within " the band of reasonable responses ". This test is one that clubs should use in any disciplinary hearing where extreme sanctions are up for consideration.
Disciplinary committee members, who are required to make some very tough decisions over what punishment would be appropriate and correct , must always attempt to step outside themselves and approach the task with an open and blank mind. This way they can justifiably claim they acted in a reasonable, fair, just, impartial and objective way. Reasonable responses can only come from reasonable fair-minded people, who are able balance and weigh up all the arguments , pros and cons. They must all strive to apply values associated with grounded, non-judgemental people, blessed with common sense, who judges believe all travel to work on the Clapham omnibus.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

  • a fairly dim sort of bloke who loves the game because it allows him to look clever
  • an ignorant person who will never concede an argument over the bidding or the play of the cards
  • one who despite being useless at bridge is convinced that he isn't
  • a player who is more reasoning than reasonable
  • a person you will never hear asking for advice
  • one who pretends to think because he can't
  • a player who after wrapping himself up in glory still remains a small package
  • the kind of player who is wrongly diagnosed as having an inferiority complex, when in fact he is inferior
  • one who is quite simply incredibly bad
  • a player who gets himself into a hopeless contract and then blames it all on his partner
  • a person who is more brain dead than deadly
  • one who will always freeze in the head-lights of the expert's fast approaching Juggernaut