Thursday, 31 May 2012

The other day I was sitting East defending a regulation 3NT shown above ......and surprise surprise  my partner found the only lead to give declarer a problem , namely a spade.
At my table declarer eventually triumphed with 4C, 4S and 1D to get his 9 tricks. Indeed, looking at all four hands it is difficult to see how the defence can arrive at 5 tricks ?
However , when scoring up  the bridgemate revealed that one declarer had failed , and this was because Johnny Supremo had been defending the contract !  
Sitting East , he had managed to work out the killing line of play...... all in a matter of seconds. 
His partner too had led a spade , and when Johnny played his jack declarer swiftly covered it with the Ace. Straightaway , he set about clubs . West ducked the first round but was forced to take the next with his bullet . Again a passive spade was returned by West . Clearly , either a heart or diamond switch would have proved fatal. So yet again declarer was back in hand by taking the trick with the spade 10. 
Sensibly , he played the heart queen next , which  without blinking Johnny took with the Ace. But what did the great man do next , one might ask ?
The answer of course was to resist temptation of a diamond switch....but to play a third spade into dummy's KQ .  Declarer , poor sod , was now locked in dummy  quite content to enjoy his black suit winners......but at what cost ? For as he set about cashing out these lovely winners , the reality of what was unfolding soon filled him with horror. He was squeezing himself to death , and nothing could stop Johnny smiling away as the defence calmly gathered up the last three tricks. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

( Article by Professor Hu Chi Ku Chi )

Having covered this topic ,  in earlier articles , from several  different points of view and perspectives , I sincerely believe that all bridge club committees should take on board the following advice : study very closely all the constitutional rules which relate to the disciplinary process , especially when it results in a member being expelled.
In Lee v The Showman's Guild of GB , Lord Denning was of the opinion that a court has a right to intervene , where there was a contractual relationship between the parties , and where the committee's decision to expel  could not be justified , given a lack of supporting evidence.
However , in a more recent high profile Malaysian case ,  the judge posed a more pertinent question : to what extent can the court intervene into the affairs of private clubs and/or unincorporated associations ? His view was that courts should always be prepared to examine the decision , if there are genuine concerns as to whether the tribunal/committee had observed the law. Moreover , this observance includes the correct interpretation of its own constitutional rules.
So naturally , he proceeded to give an illustration along the following lines. If say a committee is given power by its rules to expel a member for  gross misconduct , such as  violent or threatening behaviour , does that mean.........
( a) the behaviour has to be both violent and threatening.... or..... is it only necessary to prove one type to the exclusion of the other ?
(b)  the committee is the sole judge of what constitutes " violent "  and " threatening " behaviour ?  
With regards to the first question , the issue is whether or not the word  "or " really intended  mutual exclusivity . If the word  " either " had preceded the word  " or " then the  answer would be definitely yes. But what if the word " or "  had  been an incorrect substitute for  " and " requiring both elements to be present to establish gross misconduct ?  Indeed , a third possibility might exist  if  "and " had been omitted from the intended phrasing "and/or " , where all options were open.    Not an easy interpretation to make.
However , it is the second question which is far more likely to be relevant. Suppose the committee had put an entirely wrong construction on the words, by saying  that " waving a fist at a player several yards  away "  fell easily  within their rather wide interpretation of what " threatening  behaviour "  should embrace . However , it is the court's role to judge  what words actually mean within a given context  , and as such it might well take a different  albeit  a much narrower   interpretation of its meaning . A guiding principle often used is based on the argument that the alleged offender cannot guilty of threatening behaviour if no reasonable man could so find. In other words , if no reasonable man would ever consider  waving a fist in the air several yards away as constituting a real and immediate threat to anyone's physical safety then no offence has been committed.  Therefore, if the club member had been expelled for just a demonstrative and theatrical gesture , then surely he is entitled to seek a remedy in law.
In conclusion , it seems that the court might well adopt the following rationale for resolving all such disputes. When the member joins the club , he only agrees to the committee exercising jurisdiction according to a correct and true interpretation of the rules..... and not according to a wrong and incorrect interpretation. One for instance  which could have come  about as a result of either a ground swell of bias against the accused, or as a consequence of the committee's fierce determination to implement strict new zero tolerance policies.
So the message is clear for all bridge club committees. It pays to seek legal advice over every contentious step of the disciplinary process,  including of course the original drafting of the words used in the constitution , and the subsequent interpretation of words where the meaning is suddenly thrown  in doubt . Clearly,  any meaning arrived at  needs to be logical, sensible and not too wide, if only to reduce the risk of court action ,  because ignorance and contempt of the law could easily allow incorrect interpretations to take place , leading  of course to wrongful expulsions .   

  • Seat - the target area of a well aimed kick ,  demonstrating to great effect the extreme disapproval of partner's play 
  • Pack - a term used to describe predatory players of an unforgiving nature , who team up together in pursuit of easy prey
  • Cross - what one has to bear when required to partner a numpty
  • Enter ( dummy ) - to have it off with a life-size inflatable bridge player
  • Force - what a fat bastard uses to get to the front of the buffet queue
  • Go down - a term used in conjunction with " on one's knees "  to beg forgiveness for being so inept at bridge
  • Open room - the place where one is most likely to find players bidding and making cold contracts
  • Closed room - the place where the elite like to play to the exclusion of the riff raff
  • Kick back - what any sensible red blooded player will do when provoked by an opponent
  • Re-entry - a common occurrence when players are ( a) easily aroused , ( b) keen to score again ,  and ( c) blessed with unbelievable stamina  
  • Unmakeable - a term used to label an attractive young female player , who has no interest whatsoever in sex. Other adjectives  often used to describe such a cold fish include impenetrable , inscrutable and insurmountable
  • Deuce - a useless card destined never to make a trick . The term was originally used in 1936  by a visiting french bridge player to Stockport BC,  who on being dealt one hand after another with loads of twos screamed out " what the deuce is going on ? "  . This rhetorical question was purely aimed at conveying his extreme displeasure over picking up such lowly cards.  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

  • Rescue  - an act occasionally carried out by concerned onlookers ,  who feel duty bound to protect a fellow member from his/her physically aggressive partner
  • Ist position - the place where fat obnoxious players set out to occupy, when forming a  queue for the mid-interval buffet 
  • 2nd position - the place where one expects to find the pot-bellied partner of the guy in front 
  • Open pairs - an event which requires all well endowed  women to turn up in low slung dresses with plunging neck-lines 
  • Double jump -  an unexpected bonus when teaming up with a more than willing partner
  • First round - what the members of a winning team expect their captain to buy
  • Bridge World - a strange and mysterious place full of geeks , social misfits and grumpy old people
  • Dealer - one who  is renown for " pushing " , " sniffing " , and enjoying a " bit of crack "
  • Turn - what mardy players tend to do when things go wrong
  • Individual movement - a tragic consequence of being an incontinent bridge player

Monday, 28 May 2012


The following information has been put together as a summary of my 5 year research into awkward , cantankerous, mule-headed, non-cooperative , extremely moody players. A good 40% of any club membership !

These are players who refuse to listen
                                   refuse to follow instructions and/or advice
                                   refuse to play to the agreed system
                                   refuse to lead back what you want
                                   refuse to bid their hand properly
                                   refuse to behave in an appropriate manner
                                   refuse to apologise, explain or even speak at all

These disciples of Dark Lord have what we psycho-analysts call a PERVASIVE REFUSAL SYNDROME . Normally associated with children and young teenagers , this shocking and highly disturbing condition also affects large numbers of bridge players, who are well into their 50's and beyond. The unusual state of affairs can be explained by the fact that the game of bridge causes many players to regress into their infant-like inner-selves, displaying all the character traits of Jung's  classic archetypal child : one who loves to challenge those in authority ,  by first  engaging in acts of infantile defiance before  " turning  " themselves into cold, immovable , emotionless statues. 

When things do not go well at the table table ,  and concerned partners  start to voice their concerns , the chronic PRS victims immediately go into a shut-down and lock-down mode. One form of refusal is quickly followed by another.  Indeed, my research suggests  they all  seem to develop a premorbid personality, where having started out with high self-expectations and visions of great scoring achievements , their response to coping with failure is to switch off completely.  As more effort is put into restoring communication with them , in the hope of resuming partnership normality , the more determined their resistance becomes .

I have seen victims slump in the chairs , almost into the foetal position , exhibiting a form of learned helplessness from the time as children  they experienced  traumatic stress disorders. Selective mutism is the most common symptom, alongside a whole range of somatoform disorders , such as a refusal to participate in any social or helpful activities , such as shuffling the cards , passing over the boards , checking the scores ,  making small talk,  and so on.

Victims seem driven to  create awkward atmospheres , by choosing to stay stubbornly silent and unresponsive. What little speech is used is barely audible , being either grunts or high pitched whines. In a nutshell ,  PRS turns players into complete bastards , who not only refuse to acknowledge they have a serious debilitating problem , but utterly refuse to consider any form of treatment. In other words they are " goners " and the bizarre world of bridge is stuck with them.    

Saturday, 26 May 2012


Dear Readers ,
The moment you entered the bizarre world of bridge , you unfortunately declared yourself as a "potential clients " for money grabbing psycho-analysts , who were wisely setting up practices in your local neighbourhoods .
When I first visited my local bridge club I quickly realised what a lucrative source of business I had fortuitously stumbled upon. Never in my life had I seen so many people under the same roof needing my services . Almost everyone I met or observed " had problems " , which left unattended would have required me at  stage to have quite a few sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
But what was even more amazing was the vast array of different syndromes , complexes , phobias and other psychological/personality disorders that only related  to bridge players  . Indeed , the more I researched into this phenomenon the more I realised that it was the game itself that brought on, and exacerbated , the symptoms of their disturbing afflictions. Bridge was clearly a mind changing drug ,  which simply triggered their inner demons to run rampant and take control. So part of my ongoing training , as with many other caring  practioners , involved taking up a religious oath in order to practice exorcism .
Tragically , only a few sufferers ever stepped forward me begging for help , willing and able to  acknowledge their deteriorating and highly embarrassing conditions . Others were brought kicking and screaming to my surgery by concerned friends and relatives , but always choosing to remain in stubborn self-denial . 
So I beg you to look at yourself as a bridge player and recognise the quirky , unusual and odd behaviours you have adopted since taking up this game . Accept the reality that bridge clubs are mad houses and theatres of the absurd. Therefore , by looking back at and reviewing my numerous posts , you can to some extent undertake a self-diagnosis , which could well be the starting point for your recovery. 

Yours touting as always for business,  Dr. John 
( Another tale of woe from Howard Bigot-Johnson )

This bloody game is causing me to develop a persecution complex big time. Why just the other day when I needed just a semi-decent score on the last very board to win the trophy of my dreams , I ended up with a rank bottom........courtesy of a declarer , who relied on his brilliance  , or unbelievable luck , to stumble upon the only way of bringing home the very popular 5D contract.
Looking at the full deal above , it seems that  most declarers will come to 3 losers ( 2H and 1C). After the queen of clubs opening lead , many of them obviously pinned their hopes on a 3-3 break in spades, ruffing the 3rd round ready to lob away two losers from clubs and/or hearts. But the 4-2 spade break scuppered their plans , inviting them to turn their attention to hearts.....hoping of course the Ace was with East. SInce there was no joy there... the score sheet was littered with 4D tick , or 5D-1.
However , at my table declarer took the opening club with dummy's Ace. Next , he played one cautious round of trumps , before playing the Ace/king of spades . At trick 5 a low spade was played from dummy, but then the bad break came to light. Ruffing with the jack he returned to dummy with a trump.  Now came the 4th spade on which declarer made the key play ( or hapless guess ) of discarding a club from hand . 
This meant I had been  well and truly end played with only hearts left in my hand. Forced to take the Ace of hearts , declarer had no difficulty whatsoever in wrapping up 11 winners, just losing the one spade and one heart .
So I ask myself....why is it that I get constantly thwarted, or should I say pulled up , just as I'm about to cross the finishing line ? Am I cursed ...or is it that God just doesn't like me ? Either way , coming second is like coming're in amongst the losers , also-rans and wasters. And I don't like it one bit......


Thursday, 24 May 2012

It came as no surprise to anyone to see  Bigot being first up to  face charges of unethical behaviour , having brazenly signed a written confession about his questionable habits over the bidding and play of the cards. What follows next is a short extract from the hearing's transcript .

- Do you Bigot plead guilty to pulling cards out of your hand before it's your turn to play
- Yes.....and I have submitted a written confession to that effect
- So what explanation do you have for this unacceptable practice ?
- Well , being an impetuous and impatient man , I like to crack on with both the bidding and play of the cards . I firmly believe in the principle of preparedness and so I know exactly what I'm going to do........ since it is so easy to predict the actions of others at the table
- But surely , this premature detachment of cards ......apart from being highly  unethical....doesn't make good bridge sense
- True....but I'm very good , for instance , at predicting what bid or card my RHO is going to play , such is the wooden thinking of most players I encounter . Moreover , there are many situations where I have no sensible alternative.......
- So tell me .....what is an opposition declarer  supposed to do ,  when pondering over what to play from dummy...... if you are waiting there. ....ready to play your pre-selected card ? 
- Yes , I can see how that might unnerve declarer....or perhaps put him under pressure to play faster......but hell it's the slowness of some players that is reducing this game to one of terminal boredom
- So have you anything more to say on this matter
- No.....other than to apologise for all my past misdemeanours . Furthermore , I solemnly swear not to force the tempo of the game , and to restrain my impetuous urges...... only reaching for a card when it is my turn to play
- Well I never....we are all very pleased to hear this, but despite the fact you have been very honest , upfront and apologetic , we cannot ignore the gravity of your misconduct. Therefore , we intend to publish your name on the club's newly conceived NAME AND SHAME NOTICE BOARD , which will feature every member found guilty of bad and shameful behaviour at the bridge tables
- Fair am I now free to go ?
- Regretfully appears you are also down for today's fourth hearning concerning your ultra quick passes over opponents' opening one-level bids......which in our view are clearly unethical by conveying obvious , albeit unauthorised ,  information about your hand to partner....
- Bugger....

How Bigot cursed the day Morton's Fork came into being. Indeed , it was King Henry VII's chancellor ,  Cardinal Morton , who extracted taxes from London merchants with comfortable lifestyles on the grounds that could obviously afford to pay : and also from those that lived frugally , but  this time on the grounds that they must have salted their money away. This argument became known as Morton's Fork.
In bridge terms ,  this is a play that screws up a defender big time , whichever  way he chooses to play.  When such a manoeuvre was used to "f....k" Bigot , he becomes a very unhappy bunny. 
The contract was 3NT with South as declarer, and so Bigot confidently kicked off with the queen of spades. However , this South after taking the trick with the spade Ace spurned the diamond finesse !  Instead , he elected to lead a low club towards dummy's King. Bigot was well and truly f.....ked . 
If he rose with the Ace, declarer was home with 4C, 2S, 2H and 1D. If he ducked , then the king of clubs would hold , enabling declarer to switch to diamonds, happy to make instead 4D , 2H, 2S and 1C . 
Incensed like a rampant bull inside a cage full of waving red rags , Bigot rounded on South , who just happened to be the great Johnny Supremo  , spitting feathers like there was no tomorrow : " How come you declined taking the diamond finesse at trick 2 bugger ? "
The answer was as swift as it was cutting : " You sir , by making that vulnerable 2 level overcall in spades made the contract a simple formality...... clearly , you were either in possession of the Ace of clubs or the king of diamonds. If you held the club Ace, I was home and dry ,  and even  if you didn't then I would succeed in 3NT anyway.... by simply picking up your diamond king. "

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Disciplining members is an issue that every bridge faces from time to time. It is the nature of the game and the tragedy of the human condition. But even when  clubs have formal disciplinary procedures in place , as drawn up in their constitutions , massive problems can still arise. These usually involve situations where there has been a lamentable failure to comply with all the requirements of natural justice.
Problems tend to surface when no officer on the committee has the appropriate legal knowledge or training ,  with a firm grasp of what lawyers call  " due process ". Ignorance of these matters usually means only one thing : they get overlooked. Moreover , it's often the case that  the wider membership remains blissfully ignorant of whether their organisation  even has a written constitution , or if it does , what its contents might be. Assuming then the committee members are aware of the club's constitution , it's not guaranteed that they know the precise meaning , and legal implications , of the words used in the document , and how exactly the rules , regarding disciplinary procedures ,  should be interpreted and implemented  if they are to comply with rules of natural justice.
Paying lip service compliance to the procedural steps laid in the disciplinary process does not necessarily add up to compliance with rules of natural justice. Here the decision makers need to do more than go through the procedural motions : they must set out and embrace fully a spirit of fairness , impartiality , objectivity and open-mindedness. But this of course is easier said than done.
Far too many committee members, when dealing with unpopular troublemakers , enter discussions  with  closed minds ,  and a fierce determination not to be persuaded  or distracted  from " taking appropriate action ". The idea that anyone  can become an impartial , objective , and unbiased person ,  completely open to persuasion at the drop of a hat ,  is pure fantasy. The human condition does not allow it , but the courts will look to see if club management teams have set out to achieve such noble ideals. 
Freedom from bias perhaps is the hardest thing to achieve in small bridge clubs, where close, cosy relationships are common place ,  and everyone has " an opinion " on everybody else. This main risk of course is that committee members may base their decisions on a negative experience or encounter with the accused , which is bound to prejudice their judgement. In such circumstances it would be both prudent and wise for any jaundiced committee member to own up to  his/her personal animosity towards the accused ,  thereby abstaining from any discussion , or voting , on the matter in question.
In a recent Scottish case involving a golfer , challenging his expulsion from his club , a judicial review was called for.  With so many mistakes made ,  the club was rounded upon  by the judge for operating its disciplinary process  ( and AGMs ) in a manner and way that resembled a kangaroo court .
So where did this golf committee go wrong ?
Firstly , the petitioner was not invited to attend the disciplinary hearing  which sealed his fate . Indeed, he was never informed , or forewarned , that his membership was at risk, and possibly up for termination . He was not made aware of the other charges that were made against him at this meeting , denying him the opportunity to state his case or offer a defence.  The committee had acted in an  ultra vires way when using AGMs to secure endorsements from the wider membership for its questionable decisions. Indeed , the club had breached rules of natural justice on numerous occasions. It was also held that the petitioner had a right to be present to see that rules of natural justice were being observed ,  but since he was denied this right , decisions leading to both suspension and expulsion were therefore declared null and void .  This oversight by the committee proved to be the final nail in the club's financial coffin. 
Not surprisingly , the upshot of this case was that the expelled golfer secured a  judicial ruling for reinstatement ,  with his costs and expenses to be met by the club.
So important lessons need to be taken on board by all bridge club committees.  For if they take on quasi-judicial proceedings then additional  legal obligations fall upon them . The notion of  giving the accused a fair summary of the reasons for the decision to expel him may be a discretionary right , but one which should be given him anyway when considering the degree of  seriousness attached to cases involving expulsions.  Similarly ,  giving the accused the opportunity beforehand to see the evidence put forward by the committee to support their decisions is also a wise and prudent move. But more importantly , no member should ever be expelled without his/her presence at the disciplinary hearing.  And to justify not allowing the accused to attend a hearing simply  " because there seemed no point in him/her having one " is a damning indictment of bias and prejudgement. Failing to seek legal advice at crucial times is also another colossal oversight. Failing to allow the accused legal representation at an internal appeal hearing might well be viewed by any court as " a little naive " , if the committee wishes to demonstrate its fair and impartial attitude and approach. 
When the remote possibility of a court action suddenly changes to one of a racing certainty , club committees must hope that within their constitution rules and regulations  they have the power to refer the dispute to mediation or arbitration. In the absence of such a flexible option , then such a move should be sought anyway with the cooperation of the petitioner.  It is far better to act in a prudent and wise way at the outset ,  rather than adopting a confrontational stance.  Common sense dictates that both sides are far better off seeking and negotiating a compromise position,  because otherwise the legal bills will start to rocket. Sensible choices in life usually involve picking the lesser of two evils. So unless a club is 100% confident it has  scrupulously followed its own disciplinary procedures without any hint of bias ,  or acting in bad faith , and any breaches of natural justice rules, then the only other sensible option to follow up is this :  seek agreement to organise a rehearing of the case by a completely outside , totally impartial , independent    body , where legal expertise is not in short supply .......with both sides fully prepared to accept and uphold its decision .     

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The hand above saw 3NT bid at most tables , but strangely this contract was going off all over the place. Clearly there were numpties out there who think they can play bridge but can't. So let's look at a couple of the horror stories.
The jack of hearts was the opening lead almost on every table.
Numpty 1 won the lead , cashed the king of clubs and then finessed the club 10 . If this worked ten tricks were there....but it didn't. East pounced with the queen , returned a heart , and in the fullness of time , South ended two light.
Numpty 2 did a little better . On winning the heart , he played the jack of diamonds pinning his hopes on making 4D,2C, 2H and 1S to bring home the bacon. This required the diamonds honours to be split with West holding the Kx or Qx doubleton. Moreover, this line of play still left him with the option of falling back on clubs should East win with his doubleton Kx or Qx. As it happened East did win the trick but now whatever declarer did , his goose was well and truly cooked. 
Thankfully , there were one or two declarers who knew how to play the cards....and Johnny was one of them. He also appreciated that chances in both minor suits needed to be combined . So after taking the opening heart , he led the four of clubs to the jack . Had he been up against a poor defender, this line would have worked , if East jumped in with the queen.  Johnny of course would be thrown back in with a heart ,  but now the king of clubs can be overtaken by dummy's Ace to harvest the 9 tricks required ( 5C,2H,1D and 1S ). 
But this East was up to Johnny's standards in defence and wisely held off . However , Johnny was now in dummy, and in position to take the first of two diamond finesses, making sure he kept the 10 for the second finesse . Whether East rose with the King or not , Johnny could not be stopped from harvesting  4 diamond tricks  , being quite prepared to overtake his club king if a second entry to dummy was needed. 

( Footnote : the decision to play the 10 of diamonds on the second finesse covered the possibility of West having a stiff honour ,  leaving declarer with no problem at all in  successfully finessing East next time round )

Monday, 21 May 2012


( Article by Johnny Supremo )

The other day I entered into an argument about whether it was possible for 3NT to make by any declarer on the same deal , against any defence. Surely it was impossible for such a deal to exist ?  It would be far easier to construct a hand where 2 opposing declarers to make 9 tricks , but for all four players to that requires a miracle.
Well, it seems the wonder of symmetry settles this argument for once and for all. Indeed, the hand above does produce this most amazing outcome .
Given the perfect symmetry of the deal , we only need to analyse one declarer , so let's go for South.
On a club lead , declarer will take the trick pitching a spade from dummy to unblock the suit. And with the club suit blocked he/she has the luxury to play a low spade from both hands. Once in East can of course play a club to partner's Ace , but what now for the defence ?  A diamond puts East in to take the Ace and 10 of clubs , but now declarer is home making 1D, 1C, 1H and 6 spades ....when the Ace of course brings down the King.  If  however West starts off with a diamond , declarer simply covers, and lobs away a heart to unblock that suit...... and similar situation repeats itself.
Should West instead foolishly lead a heart, declarer will rattle off 3 quick hearts tricks, before crossing over to the spade Ace to gain access to the other 5 established heart winners. Game, set and match .

Saturday, 19 May 2012

BRIDGE BLOGS :  JUST TWO OF MY FAVOURITES  ....... ( Review by Bridgemeister Gibson )

There are many bridge blogs which I thoroughly love and regularly read . One of them is Toy Bridge , created by a New Zealander who clearly has a great love for the game. He chooses to focus nearly all his articles on hands ,  which clearly raised a few many  awkward and interesting questions at the relevant time . The content , layout , and literary style stick to  a particular format , but it's one that works for me. Indeed, I find all his stuff very  easy read , not to mention entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.
However , while surfing on the net for new stuff ,  I came across another blog , presumably from the USA, which I regarded as a hidden treasure undiscovered golden nugget in fact. This blog , which goes under the title of LOL Bridge ,  is defined by the author as " making the game of contract bridge fun again ". And believe you me it is fun to read. The content is varied , incredibly quirky and at times very funny . Yet , there is a real underpinning honesty , where the send up satire and irony  exposes the failings and shortcomings....... that all of us as bridge players unfortunately possess .
For instance , he offers a definition of a cold contract as being " what your side had before you blew it " , whereas the definition of an ice cold contract is " what your side had before your partner blew it ".
The blog' s first entry it seems was in July 2008 , but sadly the last posting was in February 2011. So despite the limited number of posts, there is still 2 to 3 good hours of excellent reading there to browse through. Clearly, the author decided that quality should take preference over quantity. So why not take a brief excursion to the world of LOL Bridge and Toy bridge , if only to start or end your day with a smile.        

Friday, 18 May 2012


Nothing on God's earth will ever surpass Sue Keeper's literary masterpiece  " The Animal House Bridge Club ". This book appears , at first sight , to be an hilarious send up of every stereotype player we are likely to encounter week, week out , at our local bridge club. The author has certainly taken over where Victor Mollo left off. Each chapter introduces the reader to a whole lost of ludicrous characters, who all seem to possess behavioural  traits , which   are far more in keeping with animals than humans. So when they all come together as performing actors in the theatre of the absurd , we have the making of a truly marvellous pantomime.

Also inspired by the Desmond Morris book , The Human Zoo ,   Sue portrays bridge players as wild animals, with all their basic instincts , primitive urges , and behavioural idiosyncrasies, ready to surface at every opportunity .  These animistic responses completely over-ride all their human conditioning. The bridge club it seems becomes a zoo , where deviant and abnormal behaviour is the norm . This perverse phenomenon has been proved  by Desmond's long term studies of caged animals , but now Sue Keeper has linked her  ground breaking research to areas of abnormal psychology , and weird personality disorders .

This gifted author sees the typical bridge club resembling a lion's den , where many unsuspecting players enter at their peril. With sharp-toothed predators lying in wait ,  tasty lambs and tender rabbits provide easy pickings .  Often served up on a plate , they are usually swallowed whole  or eaten alive. The laws that  operate in the animal house are not from the Orange Book : they are the laws of the jungle. It's dog eat dog.  With top flight players forming packs to make hunting easier , even elephants with their superb memories are at risk . So when you  add to that....  the snakes , foxes and rats which slither and scurry around in the shadows , then danger lurks at every turn .

Nevertheless, one of the more amusing stereotypes, is the skunk. This is a player who leaves a bad smell wherever he goes. His odious and disturbing presence tends to create a foul atmosphere at the table. Inevitably , opponents are so overcome by his antics, they find themselves feeling nauseous and unwell , long after he has departed.

This book without a shadow of doubt sets out to be the ultimate lampoon, but one cannot help but feel that reading between the lines , the author is trying to  expose a startling and shocking reality......that members' clubs are not what they appear to be. If  lunatics have  taken over the  asylums ....then animals are firmly in charge the bizarre world of bridge.      

Thursday, 17 May 2012

( At  long last the Cardinals Bridge Club committee were given a  golden opportunity to get rid of Bigot-Johnson for once and for all . Over 24 separate complaints came in against him regarding the same incident, which had rocked the club to its core.  A short extract from the hearing's transcript appears below ).
Chairman : Bigot.....there's no comeback for you this time....we've got you on a disciplinary charge that's so serious , it's curtains for you.....
B-J : How come ?
Chairman : We've received letters of complaint from every member who witnessed your appalling behaviour last Thursday night .... midway through the duplicate
B-J : I wasn't quite myself that night...
Chairman : Be that as it may , but when you let rip at all and sundry , who were only trying to calm you down , the language you used was certainly more than blue !
B-J : Yes , I admit there was the odd " F" word  in amongst my rants and insults.....but I can't stand interfering , meddling do-gooders.....
Chairman : Well, firstly I need to point out there were 47 " F" words be exact  ....  alongside some other appalling expletives....all horribly vulgar and offensive. 
Indeed some of words used were so obscene they would have shocked even ladyboy sailors who regularly read " Viz"......and secondly , these so called do-gooders were only trying to stop you committing acts of extreme physical violence , and criminal damage to property
B-J : I was a tad fact East started me off on a blow out when he accused me of not bidding in tempo
Chairman : Upset were monstrous , murderous and maniacal. Whatever happened to tact and diplomacy , where just a quiet word in someone's ear about your distress and concern would have been sufficient ?
B-J : But once my gander was up I felt an overwhelming compulsion to voice my angst and annoyance in a way that my doctor recommends as self-therapeutic....
Chairman : Might I remind you that many of the members present were obliged to seek therapy, after being at the receiving end of your sharp and vulgar tongue
B-J :'s all spilt milk now....and so what are you big cry-babies going to do about it ?
Chairman : Ban you.......
B-J : You can''s against the law .....such an action would be in breach of my human rights
Chairman : But you're not're a monster
B-J : Not so.....because clearly you perceive me as a troublesome member when in fact I am nothing more than a " troubled " member......a man who is troubled and cursed with a terrible medical...or should I say...mental disorder
Chaiman : What's that ?
B-J : Tourette's Syndrome....and that qualifies me as a disabled who is covered by The Disability Discrimination Act of 2005. This says I have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of my unfortunate affliction. Why you are....a load of pompous , self-righteous hypocrites....condemning and using my disability as an excuse to get rid of me. Any court would see this discrimination as shameful and wrongful 
Chairman : This is've not got Tourette's....
B-J : the words of Bruce Banner....please don't get me mad , because....oops....too late.....I'm turning green.....and now you  arse-licking're in for a right good hiding....
Chairman : Please's ok....we'll not ban you.... that's a promise ......but please put down Mrs Frobisher ...........she's far too fragile to be thrown across the room like you've just done with Mr. Vickers.....   


Losing members through natural wastage is inevitable : age , infirmity and relocation all take their toll on membership numbers. But this should pose no problem for clubs if they can recruit larger numbers of new members. Here both committees and ordinary members have a big part to play. New members first have to be brought in by the front door , but the experience they get needs to be a positive one if they are be encouraged to stay long term.
The secret to recruitment is setting up and running successful bridge classes. People who might be "thinking " about taking up bridge are highly unlikely to turn up at a club " on spec " , but in a class of beginners many will be comforted by the fact that there will be others sitting in the same boat . Ideally , introductory classes should be free ( no off-putting price deterrent )  , and subsequent intermediate classes ought to be on offer with a generous refund discount on completion.
The next goal is of course to integrate these novice players into safe and friendly duplicate events , where a mentoring system is in operation. here all long standing members have a crucial part to play. Every effort must be made to make newcomers feel welcome , to be forgiven when nervous hesitation leads them into error , and to review the hands in a spirit of friendly advice , with an over-riding sense of humour and perspective.
Given that most players develop a tendency to partner people of similar ability, beginners are often left playing with each other. This may well cause them to be constantly demoralised when racking up one poor result after another , week in week out. So building up their confidence and self-belief is the key to developing their long term commitment to playing the game.  This may require more and more events to be handicapped , in order to level out the playing field. Moreover , on any occasion when a mean spirited experienced player turns to the rule book to benefit from an alleged transgression , TDs need to make far more discretionary decisions in favour of those , who are only guilty of innocent or inadvantant mistakes. There is nothing more off-putting when seeing a top player psych , and then look to the rule book to further punish his /her hapless opponents. This happens when the gross deviation confuses them so much , they often make a stab-in-the-dark bid , which their partner ends up offering an improper or incorrect description , when asked by this oh-so-cunning adversary. 
Bridge clubs can only survive if revenue streams are maximised . Clubs cannot afford to lose members unnecessarily . New blood may be the lifeblood of a bridge club , but not at the expense of old blood. However , it is my contention that membership numbers can be maximised if everyone adopts an attitude that the hustle and bustle that goes on inside a bridge club , is no different to the hustle and bustle of life.  As bridge players we all need a good sense of humour , a great deal of patience and tolerance .....alongside a fearless and philosophical approach towards the game.    

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


There is a stark reality out there that is very disturbing for the future of bridge clubs , especially those which already have small numbers . Yesterday I spoke to a player from the Wakefield area who was bemoaning the fact that as members drifted off , no new ones were coming in to replace them. The future of his club looked very bleak indeed.
Bridge clubs not only need take responsibility to actively recruit members , but also to  encourage existing ones to stay. This means clubs need to promote bridge as a wonderful pastime and pursuit in order  to draw in interested parties , whilst at the same time guarantee an ongoing social experience that remains  highly stimulating and rewarding.
For clubs to drive away new members ( who would have otherwise stayed ) by being too snooty, cliquish , unwelcoming , and cold ,  is nothing more than scandalous . For clubs to drive away long standing members by allowing petty politics to get out of control beggars belief.  Conflicts and divisions  will always have repercussions , both short and long term , but the never ending domino  " cause and effect "  of internal disputes can only lead to dozens of adverse outcomes and negative implications .   
The role of committees should be to resolve differences and disputes within the club in a sensible and amicable way , not to create or exacerbate conflict . The future well being and success of the club is of paramount importance , which should always take precedence over the aims and aspirations of those cursed with personal agendas and big egos. For instance , if there is a situation where two members cause trouble ever time they meet at the table , then banning one or both of them might well be seen as a naive , possibly controversial, decision.  Surely ,  a simple resolution to the problem would be to say  " Well, unless you two resolve your differences ,  and agree to be mutually respectful and polite, then you will be barred from playing from playing on the same night ". In my view every member of the club is an important revenue source, who the club cannot afford to discard. Even when his/her behaviour is so bad , the decision to expel must undergo an appropriate cost/benefit analysis
by the ciommittee , such that the punishment meets both the requirements of economic and common sense.



Tuesday, 15 May 2012


A slow player can eat away at your patience and nerves like no one else . The waiting , the endless waiting , for a bid or a card to be played is no different to a death by a thousand cuts. You want to scream . You want to off load all your frustration and anger. You want to strike out. But how ?
Well , might I suggest the use of a few sarcastic put downs these little treasures I have used over the years for dramatic and devastating effect.........before you start dreaming up some gems of your own. These put downs might not solve the problem , but as sure as God made little green apples ,  they really do help you feel so much better. 
- Don't rush mate....I wouldn't want you to overlook all the other possible permutations of what could happen next
- Excuse me , but I have a hospital appointment in 3 days time
- Director.... correct me if I'm wrong , but I  do believe this man's  brain has stopped working
- Sir , either you are a time traveller who has made time stand still for yourself....or  one who has propelled the rest of us 10 minutes into the future
- If it is true that time does fly by when you're really enjoying yourself , then you my friend must be experiencing absolute ecstasy 
- So tell me truthfully .....are you from another planet , where your " seconds " equate to our " minutes " ?
- I don't know it is possible for you to play a card any slower , but knowing your track record I'm sure you're going to give it a damn good try
- If my bridge brain can be likened to a computer, then yours sir would be best described as an abacus
- Don't tell're finding it a problem following suit with a singleton ?
- Director...director....this man has gone into the tank...... and the poor sod's drowning in his own ineptitude and ignorance
- Excuse my partner ,  but he reckoned by the time you get round to making your next bid , he could use half of that to fully service my car 
- This table has 20 minutes to play these 3 would 18 minutes be alright for your allocated time share.....or is that not enough ?
- How is it you're the only player in the room who has never heard of , or understood , the principle of preparedness ? 
- Oh, you 've finally made a decision.....but are you sure it's the right one......wouldn't it be a wise and prudent step to take another 10 minutes to re-evaluate it ?
- I wonder sir if your ability to masturbate your way to an orgasm takes as long as your last bid ? .......I  sincerely hope not....... for the sake  of your wrist

  • No Need For Us To Fall Out , Partner......................Les Makepeace
  • Surely You Can Make This Simple Slam ?..............Noah Kant
  • He's A Top Player But He Never Gets Selected......Sasha Waist
  • Players Who Aren't Even Up To Wiping My Arse......Lou Roll
  • Problem Hands Tackled By An Expert....................Eve N. E. Wentoff
  • Partner, Have You Seen My Hot Dog Stand ?........Percy Steep
  • If You See A Bridgemate Flying Your Way..............Bess Duck
  • Partner , I'm Always Open To Persuasion.............. Hugh Turner
  • There's A Grand Slam On Here ...............................Will E. Biddett
  • Disputes With Your Club Can Make You Unwell.......Sue E. Syddall  

Friday, 11 May 2012


In a top class competition Johnny Supremo demonstrated his defensive prowess on the hand above. South plays in 6 spades and Johhnny is sitting East. The contract appears doomed , for declarer must lose a diamond trick ,  and West's trump king appears to be sufficiently protected to elude capture by normal finessing.
However , in this field declarers were red hot , and nearly all received an opening 4 of diamonds lead. After winning with the Ace,  the 10 and 9 of spades were immediately finessed , with West declining to cover. Then came three top clubs, followed by two top hearts and a heart ruff by declarer. At trick 10 the ace of diamonds is played and the trap was now set for a well executed smother play.
When East is thrown in with the queen of diamonds , he is obliged to lead a heart . This will be ruffed by South with the jack of spades and West is powerless to stop declarer making the last two tricks. If he covers declarer is straight in which the Ace, and the queen is good : if he under-ruffs his King falls under dummy's Ace next trick .
So what then happened on Johnny's table ? At trick 3 on the second round of spades Johnny jettisoned his quuen of diamonds , therefore avoiding the throw-in at trick 11. Now when the diamond trick is conceded ,  it is West who wins it with the 9 , enabling him to play a low spade to dummy's Ace to establish his trump king for the setting trick.
Such great defence......foresight and genius combined.   

Many people were overjoyed when they heard the news that Bigot-Johnson had been suspended for 2 years from the Walnut Tree Allotment Society BC. The committee there felt enough was enough , and that his bluntness amounted to extreme rudeness. Tactful behaviour to Bigot has been a "no-no ". Does he feel guilty for being so blunt , and speaking his mind with such commendable precision of thought and clarity of expression , that cheaters, slow players, idiots, irritants , and pompous show-offs  should all get their comeuppance ?  Not one bit.
Nevertheless, the key question remains : should he have been less straight ? Most the committee said yes , but on reflection his blunt speaking, unrestrained no-holds-barred  behaviour could be viewed as the height of honesty , and the most effective way to confront these other undesirable members.
Why do so many of us think the best way to deal with an awkward situation at the bridge table is to avoid plain speaking ? To brush aside these annoying transgressions , or to cause an even bigger fuss and delay by calling over the TD ? Why do even those of us who cherish simple meaningful language tie ourselves in knots to avoid offending people. Turning one's cheek to these wrongdoers will only encourage them to slap you on the other, and exacerbate their problem behaviour even more.
When Bigot is offended , quite understandably he feels  the need to mitigate the pain , to ease the tension , and to apply the biblical teaching of an eye for an eye. In his world , and especially in his club, players have no time whatsoever for specious and silly pretences. In fact , by shrouding words in a cloak of non-rudeness only adds to an already controversial element exposed at the tables : dishonesty.
As Bernard Levin once said " truth is the only antidote to the poison of euphemism.....and that all euphemisms are lies ". These lies are told with a particular purpose, and that purpose is to change reality. So why not then accept the fact there is not a bridge player alive today  , who is ever likely to commit a table transgression which would test the patience of a saint ?  This is a false reality which the committee chose to believe. Furthermore,  Bigot's reality reflects only the flawed  perceptions of  a bitter and twisted man . 
But no man can change reality , and moreover why should anyone be obliged to live out such a ludicrous pretence. Reality is of course very painful. The truth often hurts. Yet reality and truth , in Bigot's mind , is the very bedrock and foundation on which he has created the Slaughter House BC. 
For him , it is morally inconsistent to uphold the virtues of honesty and plain speaking , if one then chooses to respond to an awkward situation at the bridge table with verbiage and euphemism. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012