Source: www.abf.com.au/newsletter/Jan12  by Chris Depasquale         

Why I Don’t Play Bridge

Let me begin with a confession. I am a chess player. I did try bridge about 30 years ago, but found my partner* so inept, that I happily immersed myself in the 64 squares of the chess board. I kept an interest in bridge, of course, reading many books on the subject (particularly Victor Mollo’s “Bridge in the Menagerie” series) regularly kibitzing some of Australia’s top players. For me, bridge was a spectator sport. When I recently relocated to Darwin, however, I found that chess was non-existent, while there were three bridge clubs all vying to sign up the unsuspecting occasional bridge player like me. The first one listed on the website was Arafura Bridge Club: “The friendly club, where trumping your partner’s ace is not the end of the world.” That sounded like the place for me. I am all in favour of my opponents trumping their partner’s aces, and if my partner ever trumped my ace, well, I could always get a new partner.

How I Do Play Bridge

When your basic grounding in the game is based on the Mollo Menagerie, you develop a certain style. This was a hand during one of my rare efforts at bridge last millennium. EW are vulnerable, West deals and sitting South, I pick up  AKQ,  A9,  AKQ72,  AQ3.

West, unsurprisingly, passes, but partner opens 2 (the usual weak two: 6-10 points with a six-card suit.) East passes, and I bid the automatic 7NT. This goes around to East, who doubles, then back to partner who redoubles. West leads 10, and dummy goes down:  63,  KJ10643,  J94,  74.

At which point I shoot my partner at point blank range. OK, we have all had bad days, where we have opened a similar weak two, but redouble? REDOUBLE?? So the kindest thing to do is to put him out of his misery, and shooting him is the quickest way to do this. And, of course, relying on the precedent set in the Bennett case in Kansas City in 1929, this is a clear case of justifiable homicide!

But I still have to play the hand. At trick one, East contributes 4. The only possible justification for the double is that East has the protected Q and K, but how does knowing that help? So I turn to Victor Mollo for inspiration. The first thing the Hideous Hog does in a slam contract, with an apparent surfeit of aces, is to finesse a nine, or thereabouts. With this in mind, I think I can deal with the likely distribution. At trick two, I cash A (3 from West, 8 from East), and then lead a small diamond. West plays 6, and I nonchalantly play 9, which holds!.

Now when I play a small heart from dummy, East plays 2, I play 9 and West discards a spade. The rest is plain sailing: cash A, cross to J, cash K (discarding a small club), then come off dummy with a club, finessing Q (successfully), and 13 tricks roll home. The full hand is:

aaxxFor anybody brought up on a steady diet of Hideous Hog coups, the play of the cards is quite trivial; the difficult part is keeping Partner alive until the paramedics get there!