At the 2003 universities bridge festival in Cambridge, Robin Zigmond experienced more than his fair share or poor bridge. Not content with playing a large role in the Poor Bridge of the Festival itself, the following day came two classic hands of poor bridge featuring himself and Mike Scanlon. First was this:
9 7 2
You’re in 4, have won 9 of the 10 tricks played so far, and are in hand. All the trumps have gone. What do you do?
*You* would probably cash the ace of diamonds, thus making the (entirely cold) contract. Robin, however, elected to play a spade, allowing the defence to take the last three tricks. (His feeble excuse being that he thought Mike still had a trump left, and was therefore going off anyway. As if miscounting the trump suit is any less poor.)
There was worse to come (hands switched for clarity):
K 7 6 2
Q 10 8 5
A 7 3
Q J 4
A 9 2
K 10 9 8 7
6 5 4 2
K J 10 9 6 4 2
A 10 9 8
K J 7 6 4 3
Mike’s double obviously has nothing to justify it, except that he had witnessed the declarer play on the previous hand. Robin’s redouble is equally poor: should Mike have the expected AQxx of trumps then the contract will surely be defeated, but what the hell, it’s the student bridge festival. As it is, the dummy is perfect and for the second time in two boards, Robin lands cold game – this time redoubled. Let’s see what happened:
West leads a club. Dummy wins the ace and leads a low trump to the king and ace. The return is won and two rounds of trumps are played, ending in dummy. The trumps are now drawn, but obviously believing that Mike simply must have four for his double, and therefore that there are 14 hearts in the pack, Robin plays another round. Not that this matters here, but he now revokes by playing a spade from hand. Mike’s moment has come.
All he has to do is play any card and let Robin play to the next trick, thereby establishing the revoke. The contract then goes -2 for +1000 to E/W.
Instead, Mike reacts with an expression of great shock, and pauses. Result: Robin realises what he’s done, puts the spade back and follows suit instead. No penalty, and 4xx comes rolling home. E/W -1080.
Agreeing the score was easy: Poor Bridge all round!