The Session from Hell


      This is a fictionalized account of a bridge session played with a most unusual partner.  After a pre-game strategy session filled with new conventions and ideas, your eyes glaze over and your mind swirls.  You are fine shape for the first hand !


Completed Tuesday, March 4th, 1997

To Board  1   On Lead Versus 7
To Board  2 Girls !  Girls !  Girls !
To Board  3 LOTUS
To Board  4 The Feature Show
To Board  5 Fourth Hand Finesses
To Board  6 Looking for Jack
To Board  7 Another Canapé ?
To Board  8 The core of the matter
To Board  9 A play problem
To Board 10 Leading the suit above
To Board 11 Taking the scenic route
To Board 12 The leading man
To Board 13 Relativity Speaking
To Board 14 These Broken Hearts
To Board 15 A Lesser Player Would've ...
To Board 16 The Perverse Reverse
To Board 17 Cubic Cuebids
To Board 18 "Identification ?"
To Board 19 Double Trouble
To Board 20 "What do you mean, seven clubs ?"
To Board 21 "Count in what ?  !"
To Board 22 Lover's Leap
To Board 23 "Keeping you up ?"
To Board 24 Next Time
To Board 25 The Case of the Ace
To Board 26 Black Magic
To Board 27 Restricted choices
Epilogue Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star ...


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The Session From Hell – Board 1
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 1
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: RHO
Partner: Lunatic

      In a regional matchpoint event, you hold:

J x
K J 10 x x x
A x
x x x
    The good news is that, by reputation, two of the three others at the table are "solid citizens".  The bad news is that the "full-mooner" at the table is your partner, and that you have 26 more boards with him after this one.  (I will point this out in order to reproduce the conditions at the table accurately — not to serve as a clue to the proper course of action here.) Outnumbered, you have acquiesced to playing with this maniac because you, an inveterate backgammon player, are wedded to the theory that 3-to-1 constitutes acceptable odds. 

RHOYouLHO3rdO
2 2 Pass 3
3 Pass 4NT 5
6 Pass Pass 7
7 Dble Pass Pass
Pass
      At favourable vulnerability, you are on lead after this "standard" 2 game-forcing auction:

      Yes, 4NT was Key Card Blackwood.  You ask LHO what the 6 reply meant and both opponents shrug.  No sense asking about 7.  You Doubled 7 to prevent partner from bidding 8.
      So what do you lead ?
On to Board 1: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 2
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 2
Vulnerability: N-S (Them)
Dealer: You
Partner: Lunatic

A Q x x x
A x x
x x
K x x
YouLHO3rdORHO
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
??
      Having already dropped one board to the field, you pick up:
      Some variation on the following auction occurs at virtually every other table in the event:

      2 was NOT 2-over-1 game-forcing, so you might expect hands such as the following from partner:
Responder A:
   K x x x
   x x x
   Q x x
   A J x
  
Responder B:
   K J x
   J x x
   K x x
   Q J x x
  
Responder C:
   K J x
   x x x
   x x
   A Q x x x

      Only the last hand C gives you a great chance for game, where Responder's 2 reply is "real" and not merely preparatory to an invitational Spade raise. 

      So, had this auction come up at your table, what would you have bid ? 
On to Board 2: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 3
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 3
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

Pard
9 8 4
K J 10 9 6 4
3 2
3 2
PardNorthYouSouth
1NT 2NT 4
Pass Pass Pass
      Having struggled back to average in this regional matchpoint event, your space cadet Partner now has a chance to go ahead of the field with this hand:

      With both sides vulnerable, the auction proceeds:
      North opened a weak 1NT.  You are playing "bid what you've got" against it.  Your 2NT call showed the minors. 

      What should partner lead ? 
On to Board 3: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 4
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 4
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: You
Partner: Lunatic

K 10 x
A K 10 x x
x x
A J x
YouNorthPardSouth
1 Pass 2 Pass
??
      After exchanging pleasantries with your new opponents you pick up:
      As the opponents pass throughout,
your 1 opening bid is raised constructively to 2

      Playing whatever game-try methods you wish, what do you bid ? 
On to Board 4: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 5
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 5
Bored: Yes
Vulnerability: Them
Dealer: LHO
Partner: Lunatic

LHOPardRHOYou
1 Pass 1 Pass
1NT Pass 2NT Pass
3NT Pass Pass Pass
      After a rocky start, you find yourselves leading the field, when the opponents stumble into 3NT on the following auction:

Dummy
A J 10
J x x
K Q x x
x x x
Declarer
K x x
A Q x
J x x
A 10 x x
Partner leads 2 and Declarer is looking at:
In with the Q, Declarer knocks out your A on the third round of Diamonds.
Your Heart return is ducked to partner's K and he clears the suit, everyone following. 

      With 3 Diamond tricks, 2 Hearts and 1 Club, Declarer needs 3 Spade tricks to make the 3NT contract.

      So, whom should Declarer play for the Q ? 
On to Board 5: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 6
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: You
Dealer: RHO
Partner: Lunatic
K 5
K Q 4 3 2
Q 8 3
10 7 6
RHOYouLHO3rdO
2NT Pass 3NT Pass
Pass Pass

      Your mind still reels as you pick up this hand:
      RHO's 2NT opening (21-22 HCPs) shuts you up.  LHO raises to 3NT and it becomes your lead. 
      Playing more or less standard carding (i.e., 4th best, King might be from KQ or AK), you choose to start with a Heart.  But which one ? 
On to Board 6: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 7
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Board: 7
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      The Director has not yet called an end to Round 2 or an end to your misery.  Partner is explaining at great length his latest crackpot bridge theory to the opponents.  You wonder how much worse things can get when you look at your next hurdle. 

      R.H.  and S.G. !   In all your years of playing against them, you've never walked away from their table with a single matchpoint.  You like them personally, of course, but you hate that cursed system of theirs: "Valentines".  Oh, well, maybe they won't get any tough bidding hands ...  

      Yeah, right.  When you finally move to their table, you distract them with niceties while partner rummages through their convention card like a "kid in a candy shop".  On the first hand, your side passes throughout as they bid these hands:
North
J x x x
x
A J x
A K Q x x
   
South
10 x x x
A K 10
10 9 x x
J x

      How would you, dear reader, bid 'em with your favourite partner (and, of course, your favourite system) ? 
On to Board 7: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 8
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: West
Partner: Lunatic

      The "Valentines" boys, R.H.  and S.G., are not done with you yet:
North:
K J x x
A x x
A x
K x x x
    
South:
Q 10 x x
x x
x x x
Q 10 x x
      Dealer West passes.  With North now starting things off, and East bidding 2 (intermediate, if a jump) over any 1-level opening, how would you and your favourite partner bid these hands ? 
On to Board 8: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 9
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: E-W (You)
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      Lest you haven't had enough of the "Valentines" system after your last two bottom boards, you then watch them bid these two hands:
North:
K Q 10 x x x
A x x
A Q x
x
    
South:
A 8
10 x x
J 10 x x
K Q 10 x
How do you bid these hands with your favourite partner ? 
On to Board 9: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 10
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: You
Partner: Lunatic

      You run like a scalded dog from the Valentines pair to the comfort and safety of the next table.  Here, you meet a partnership playing a standard system with a few gadgets.  Your partner holds your average rubber bridge hand:

Partner
4 3 2
4 3 2
5 4 3 2
4 3 2
      
PardRHOYouLHO
Pass1
Pass 2* Pass 2NT*
Pass 3* Pass 3NT
Pass 6 Pass Pass
Pass
      He hears the above auction:
      2 was inverted, with 2NT promising a guard in both majors.  3 checked for a Club stopper, which 3NT confirmed. 

      So, what should partner lead ?
On to Board 10: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 11
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: South
Partner: Lunatic

      As your mind throbs with information overload, your partner decides that, after the three bottoms against the Valentiners, drastic measures are required to get you back into contention.  By opening a weak (12-15 HCP) 1NT, he presents your RHO with the following challenge:
RHO holds:
J x
A K Q x
A J 10
A K Q x
     
PardRHOYouSouth
Pass
1NT Dble Pass Pass
2 Dble Pass Pass
2 Dble Pass Pass
2 ??

      What should RHO bid now ?
On to Board 11: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 12
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: N-S (Them)
Dealer: West
Partner: Lunatic

      Partner picks up the following hand: ... and hears the following auction:
Partner
J 10 x
Q x x x
A x x
x x x
     
PardRHOYouLHO
Pass 1 1 2
??

      2 is explained as a West Coast cuebid, asking for a Spade stopper for 3NT.

      What should partner bid here ?
On to Board 12: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 13
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      You approach the next round with trepidation and, of course, a stern lecture from the director ringing in your ears.  It seems that four psyches in two hands exceeded the limits of this director's tolerance.  Oh, well, at least he didn't adjust the result. 

      The cause of your fear sits North: J.W., aka "The Ram". 
In the past, this reprobate has demonstrated an uncanny ability to fleece you of every available matchpoint or IMP at stake — all the time rubbing it in with teasing banter, constant bleating and incessant coffeehousing. 

Dummy
A J 5
K 10 4
K 10 8 7
9 4 2
Declarer
K 8
Q 8 6 2
A J 9 3
A Q J
      "Just once," you mutter to yourself through clenched teeth, "just once I'd like to ... "
Things start off with the Ram facing another "find the Queen" hand:

      After Declarer's strong 1NT opening is raised to 3NT, your partner leads 10.  Five, four, King.  Assuming that Declarer's RHO is a stronger player than Declarer's LHO, which opponent should he play for the elusive Q at matchpoints ?   And at rubber bridge ?
On to Board 13: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 14
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: East
Partner: Lunatic

      Before going on to the next hand, you excuse yourself and head for the men's room.

      "Good idea," partner chimes as he joins you. 

      On the way back to the table, partner divines that you and the Ram seem to have a rivalry going.  "Not much of a rivalry, really," you counter.  "Whenever we lock horns, he comes out on top."

      "Is that what keeps bringing you out to play ?"

      "What ?" you gasp. 

      "Well, I might be crazy, but it seems to me ... "

      Partner's words trail off, as you take your seats to continue play. 

      As Dealer, you open a weak 1NT (12-15 HCPs when not vulnerable).  The Ram hesitates and then passes.  Your partner holds:
x x
10 x x x x x x
x x
x x
      Playing Jacoby transfers and non-forcing Stayman, any normal human being would bid 2, transferring to 2.  Of course, 2 did not even occur to the moonbeamer sitting across from you. 

      Instead, he reached into his bidding box and pulled out ...  

      Any guesses ? 
On to Board 14: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 15
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: N-S (them)
Dealer: South
Partner: Lunatic

      Still smarting from the Ram's insult on Board 13, your side picks up:
You:
K Q J 4
A 10
A Q 9 7 3
Q 5
    
Pard:
9 8 5 3
K
K J 2
A 9 7 5 4
      With partner starting things off, and the opponents passing throughout, how would you and your partner bid these hands ?

      Now change partner's hand to:
You:
K Q J 4
A 10
A Q 9 7 3
Q 5
    
Pard:
A 8 5 3
2
K J 2
A 9 7 5 4
... and how would you and your partner bid them ? 
On to Board 15: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 16
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: E-W (You)
Dealer: West
Partner: Lunatic

      Having extracted your revenge against the Ram, you move on to the next table.  For the umpteenth time during this session, your partner asks to swap directions with you.  You comply, not wanting to argue with anyone displaying such strange and compulsive behaviour.  As was his custom, he clears this switch with the opponents and hears no objections from them either. 

      Your new opponents are two kindly local ladies whose nonchalant, detached and often distracted demeanour belies their fierce competitiveness and considerable skill.  These are tough customers whom you've learned from bitter experience to take very seriously.  While their bidding is often quite crude, you can count on these two not to slip any tricks in the play !

      Fortunately, your fate is in your own hands on the first board.  With the opponents passing throughout, your side holds:
West:
A J x
A 10 x x
x
A K x x x
    
East:
9 x x
K x x x
K x x x
x x

      With West dealing, how would you bid these hands with your favourite partner ? 

      Now change West's pointed suits around:
West:
x
A 10 x x
A J x
A K x x x
    
East:
9 x x
K x x x
K x x x
x x
... and how would you bid these hands ?
On to Board 16: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 17
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      You soon discover that the ladies' bidding methods are not quite as crude as you had thought.  You watch them stop in 4 holding:
North:
K x x
J 8 7 6 2
A Q x
K Q
    
South:
A Q
Q 5 4 3
K J x x
A J x

      How would you bid these hands with your favourite partner ?   And, missing AK109, how would you play the Heart suit ? 
On to Board 17: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 18
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: N-S (Them)
Dealer: East
Partner: Lunatic

      It seems that partner could not stand to leave Table 6 without committing at least one act of total madness.  It was here, on Board 18, when the silliness reached its peak:
Dummy
Q x x
Q x
A 10 9 x x
J x x
Pard
K J x x
K J x
K x
K 10 x x
You
x x x
x x x x
J x x
x x x
Declarer
A 10 x
A 10 x x
Q x x
A Q x

      After a strong 1NT was raised to 3NT, partner finds himself on lead.  He fingers all thirteen cards, trying to find a lead which wouldn't give up a trick.  Then, while no one (other than you) is watching, he reaches into his shirt pocket, extracts a card and mixes it into his hand.  He then pulls this same card out of his hand, lays it face down on the table and asks "Questions ?"

      "Uh ... "

      Delaying no further delay, he flips over ... a Joker !   

      Without surmising the lead, Dummy immediately puts down her hand. 

      "DIRECTOR !"

      How would you rule ? 
On to Board 18: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 19
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: E-W (You)
Dealer: South
Partner: Lunatic

      "Director !" you shout at first glance of your next opponents. 

      "What now ?" asks the Director indignantly.  "There seems to be some mistake here," you explain.  "You have these Canadian Clubbers sitting the same direction as the Valentiners, with us sitting opposite.  What are we running here, a tournament or a gauntlet ?"

      The Director laughs off your concerns and wanders away, leaving you muttering about "starting off six boards behind the field".  Needless to say, your record against the Canadian Clubbers has not been stellar.  Knowing how effective their slam-bidding has always been, you can only hope ...  

Your Hand
A K J 10 x
J
x
A K 10 x x x
WestYouEastPard
Pass
1 Dble 2 4
Dble!
      West doubles 4 so loud that paint peels off the wall. 

      After you remind West that he is supposed to be using bidding cards, you ponder the question: why did you double with this hand ?   Oh, right, now you remember: you were worried that partner would pass any black suit overcall with good support for the other black suit.  You turn your thoughts to the second question: what to do now ? 
On to Board 19: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 20
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: West
Partner: Lunatic

      At the top of your list of reasons why you might someday give up this game is the following hand that the Canadian Clubbers picked up against you:
North:
A 8 x x x
x x
K Q x
A 9 x
   
South:
Q x x
A K x x
A
K Q J 10 x x

      The field played in Spade and NoTrump contracts ranging from the game level to, yes, the grand slam level !    How would you and your favourite partner bid these hands ?
On to Board 20: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






The Session From Hell – Board 21
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: N-S (Them)
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      Hand #21 is your first opportunity to give the Canadian Clubbers a bad board — and on a slam hand, no less !  
As East, you hold:    The auction proceeds:

East (You)
x
x
A J 10 9 x
A x x x x x  

NorthYouSouthPard
1 2 3 4
Pass 5 Dble 5
6 PassPassPass

      The 1 opening bid was limited to 15 HCPs.  South's 3 cuebid confirmed Hearts as trumps.  Partner's 4 raise was purely pre-emptive.  North's pass of 4 showed a maximum. 

Dummy
A x x
x x x
K Q x
K Q x x
Your A holds the first trick, with partner contributing the trey.  Dummy appears with:

      So what do you lead at trick Two ?
On to Board 21: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 22
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: E-W (You)
Dealer: East
Partner: Lunatic

      You find refuge from the Canadian Clubbers at the next table where a kindly old couple greets your arrival. 

      After you pass, South's 1 opening runs into your partner's Michaels 2 overcall, showing Hearts and better Clubs.  North passes and you hold:

Your Hand (East)
A x x x
K J x
10 x x x
x x
PardNorthYouSouth
Pass1
2 Pass ??
You would like to make a move towards 4, but how do you make such an invitation ?  
If you bid 2NT and partner shows Clubs, a 3 bid may sound like a simple suit preference rather than an invitation.  Knowing that partner would make a 2 overcall on either of these hands:

West #1:
x
A x x x x
A x
A K x x x
   
West #2:
   x
   A x x x x
   Q x
   A J 10 x x

... what do you bid ?
On to Board 22: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 23
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: South
Partner: Lunatic

      This Board 23 featured some spectacular fireworks:

PardNorthYouSouth
1
Pass 1 1 1
Pass 3 Pass 3NT
Dble Rdbl Pass Pass
Pass

As West, having doubled 3NT, what should partner lead from:
West
Q 10 8 4
2
J 10 7 3
K J 7 3
On to Board 23: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 24
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: West
Partner: Lunatic

      So far you've seen partner revoke on opening lead, seen partner and opponents spring innumerable gadgets and you have watched four different declarers find four different Queens for four different reasons.  What more could possibly happen during this round ?   Well ...  
2
A J 8 7
A K 10 3
K Q 8 6
   
PardNorthYouSouth
Pass 1 Dble 2
Pass 4 ??

      Do you double again ?   Bid 4NT ?   Pass ? 
On to Board 24: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell – Board 25
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: N-S (Them)
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      At the next table, you encounter two old rubber bridge cronies.  North is chastising his partner as you enter earshot. 

      "Well," North sighs as he pulls out a rubber bridge score sheet, "it looks like we'll have to return to the basics here, pard.  Bridge is a game of five columns. 

      "Here," he pontificates, pointing at the column at the top left of the score sheet, "we write in our bonuses and overtricks.  In the top RIGHT column, we write their bonuses and overtricks.  Here, in the third column on the bottom left, we write our trick score.  And here, in the fourth column, we put their trick score."

      "So," asked his partner quizzically, "where is the «fifth column»?"

      "Sitting right across from me," concluded North. 

YouNorthPardSouth
1 2 Dble*
Pass ??
      Finished with his tirade, North opens 1.   Your partner overcalls 2.  South makes a negative double.  You pass.  Vulnerable against not, what should North do with:
A K Q 4 3
8 7
K Q 9 2
Q 8
On to Board 25: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell - Board 26
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: Both
Dealer: North
Partner: Lunatic

      North is by no means finished his teasing diatribe about bridge basics.

      "Bridge is like a 4-player backgammon chouette. You're 'in the box' facing three opponents.  The most dangerous of these — indeed, the Captain of the Opposition — is the one sitting across from you..." 

      Tuning out this prattle, you hear this auction:

YouNorthPardSouth
1 1 2
Pass2NTPass3NT
PassPassPass
South explains that his partner's bidding guaranteed 3+ Diamonds,
no 5-card major and 12-13 HCPs.
Dummy (South)
K Q 3
5 4
Q 9 7 5
A Q J 7
Partner
10 8
K Q J 8
K 4 3
8 6 5 4
Partner leads K and sees this:
You play lowest 6 (discouraging),
and Declarer plays 3.
Partner continues J.
Assuming you were to play 7 and Declarer 2, Who has 10 ?  And how does partner know this ?
On to Board 26: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







The Session From Hell - Board 27
Event: Regional
Scoring: Matchpoints
Vulnerability: None
Dealer: South
Partner: Lunatic

      Well, you made it to the last board with your sanity, if not your bearings and equilibrium, intact.  In doing so, you will end up with more than your partner started with.  Speaking of your partner, he holds:            ...and hears this auction:
Pard
A Q
x x x
x x x x
10 9 8 x
     
SouthPardNorthYou
1NTPass2Pass
2Pass4NTPass
5Pass6Pass
PassPass
      2 was alerted as being a Puppet Stayman response, promising 5 Spades in a 5-3-3-2 type hand.

      "How bad can this be?" your partner must have asked himself. "With any kind of luck, 1NT Opener's 15-18 HCPs will include the K and they'll go down one for a good score our way."

      Partner leads 10, and sees this mountain come to earth:

North (Dummy)
K x x x x
K Q x x
K Q
A J

No doubt your partner cursed to himself: "I could've lived without seeing the K on dummy !" Nevertheless, Declarer — a good player with 15 HCPs and a 5-3-3-2 type hand — went down one.  But how ?  
On to Board 27: Denouement To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 1: Denouement
      At the table, A was led and covered by Declarer's whole hand.  "Ruffing and drawing trumps, starting with dummy's King," he claims before leaning over and peeking at your partner's hand.
You
J x
K J 10 x x x
A x
x x x
Declarer
A Q 10 x x x
A
 —
A K Q x x x
Dummy
K x x
 —
K J x x x x
J x x x
Partner
x x
Q x x x x x
Q x x x x
 —

      Declarer slaps your partner on the back, chuckles and raves:  "Nice club bid!"

      "Which one?" Partner replies flatly. "My first one, or second one ?"  

      Dummy wonders aloud why your partner wouldn't just splinter with 4 over the 2 bid.  Declarer points out that he wouldn't have gone to 7 if that had been the case. 
RHOYouLHO3rdO
2 2 Pass 4
      You try to blot out all of this.  As the thought of 26 more boards with this lunatic filters into your brain the room starts spinning and fades into black ...
On to Board 2 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







Board 2: Denouement
      Well, at every other table, your hand passed 3.
YouLHO3rdORHO
1 Pass 2NT
But, you didn't have the benefit of the above auction at yours.  Opposite your 1 opening, partner gets a crazed gleam in his eye and bids 2NT, bouncing in his seat as he does so. 
      You alert, hoping that no one would ask:
      "Yes ?" RHO intones. "What does 2NT mean ?"

      Before the session from hell started, your ersatz erstwhile partner smiled at your suggestion that you play a Jacoby 2NT reply here. 
      Instead, the two of you would be playing something called ... what was it again ?   ... oh, right ... "GIRLS".  You rack your brain, trying to cipher out what that silly acronym stood for.  GIRLS.  GIRLS.  Oh, yeah: "Game-try In Responder's Long Suit".
      "Uh, my partner has a long suit headed by two of the top three honours in support of my Spades," you bluff authoritatively, hoping RHO won't ask: "Which long suit?" "Umm," you stammer, "I don't know."
      Seeing everyone's dissatisfaction with this answer, you quickly add: "Yet!   I don't know what long suit he has YET."
      RHO sports the same indulgent grin that partner showed when you suggested playing Jacoby 2NT.  You ignore this and focus on trying to figure out what suit partner has.
      You remember him blithering something about "Maxi-Flex" (i.e. when in doubt, bid the cheapest step).
YouLHO3rdORHO
1 Pass 2NT Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
K J x
x x
x x x
A Q x x x
You trot out a 3 bid.  Halleluliah !   Partner alerts !   At his turn, he bids 3.   3?   Hmm, 3 would've probably shown Diamonds, and 3, Hearts.   So 3 must show Clubs!  
      You count ten Black tricks and proceed to 4.  Sure enough, partner tables the Type C hand:   And you chalk up +450.  Top board.  Back in the hunt!
On to Board 3 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







Board 3: Denouement
      Without so much as a nanosecond's thought, your partner bangs down the Club trey.  The complete hand was:

Dummy
K Q x x
x x
A 10 x x
K J x
Pard
x x x
K J 10 x x x
3 2
3 2
You
x
x x
Q J x x x
A Q x x x
Declarer
A J 10 x x
A Q x
K x
10 x x
Two quick Club honours and a Club ruff gets your side off to a great start.   Partner exits with a Diamond and collects a Heart trick later.  4, down one.  Average plus.
      Ever gracious, you compliment your partner on his lead.  So far, so good.  But then you make the mistake of asking him how he managed to find it.  Partner stares back quizzically. "It was obvious," he states flatly. "LOTUS".

      "LOTUS?", you counter, despite your better judgement.

      "Yes," he continues indulgently.   "If you held:
x
x x
A K Q x x
x x x x x
" ... you would probably overcall 2 rather than the Unusual 2NT, wouldn't you ?"

      "Well, yes, I probably would, but — "

      "Exactly," the wildman continues.  "So, if either of your two suits is much stronger than the other, it is more likely to be the lower-ranked suit, whenever you make a 2-suited overcall.  Right ?"

      "So LOTUS stands for ... ", you wonder aloud.
            "Lower Of Two Usually Stronger."

      Seeing you reach for a pencil, partner tells you that you don't have to write "LOTUS" on your convention card.  You weren't going to.  Rather, you were trying to pass a message to the opponents:
      "As soon as we leave the table, yell «FIRE !»"
On to Board 4 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 4: Denouement
      Seduced by those ten-spots, you decide that this hand is worth one try at game.  The problem, as you see it, is that game will likely be odds-on, only if partner has nothing wasted in Diamonds.

      You chance upon an idea: a short-suit game try in Diamonds!
You put the "2" bidding card on the table.  Playing 2-way game tries with your steady partners, you would now expect to hear 2NT, allowing you to identify the short suit by rebidding 3

YouNorthPardSouth
1 Pass 2 Pass
2
      As soon as your 2 bidding card hits the table, you realize your error.  You aren't playing with your usual, normal partner.  In fact, "usual" and "normal" are the last two words you'd use to describe the man sitting across from you now.  And, of course, you are not playing 2-way game tries !  

      Nevertheless, the madman alerts.  You rack your brains, trying to remember what type of game tries you are playing.
You vaguely recall him saying something about a "Feature Show". 
YouNorthPardSouth
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2NT Pass
??
      The "derango" bids 2NT.  A Spade card, you presume.  This is good news.  But what about a Club card from partner ?
What to do now ?  You bid 3, hoping that this asks for help in that suit.  Sure enough, partner alerts your 3 bid.
      When LHO inquires, you hear more good tidings from partner: "3 authorizes me to go to 4, if I have a Club card."  Looking at:

   A J x    x x x x    x x x x    K x
... he dutifully jumps to 4.  Whereas with:
   A J x    x x x x    K x x x    x x
... he would have bid 3 and respected your 3 sign-off. 

      Hearts break 3-1 but your luck at finding Queens proves much better than your luck at finding partners.  Correctly placing the Q with RHO nets you +620, another near-top and a congratulatory smile from pard. 

      You're on a roll !
On to Board 5 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 5: Denouement
      After some thought, Declarer travels to A, cashed the good Diamond (don't suits always break 3-3 for the opponents ?) and passes J, successfully finessing your Q, and claiming +600. 

      "Nice guess," you concede graciously. 
      "No nicer than your guess on the previous hand," partner chirps.  "And probably motivated by the same theory of Fourth Hand Finesses."

      As Declarer — an old acquaintance of this rubber-roomer — nods knowingly you eloquently plead ignorance:

      "Huh ?"

      "I couldn't bid over 1 and you couldn't bid over 1," partner explains patiently. 

      "Yeah, so ?",  you pursue. 

      "When I passed 1, I had only heard one opponent bid.  You, on the other hand, had heard two opponents bid freely and could, therefore, not expect much from me.  Hence, the upper limit of your hand was higher than the upper limit of mine. 
      All other things being equal and with no other clues to go on, this means that you are ever-so-slightly more likely to hold any outstanding high card than I am."

      Your eyes bug out and your mind boggles. 

      "Naturally," grants the loon, "I assume you know all of this.  Quite basic, really.  Isn't that how you found the same card on the previous hand ?"

      "Oh, yes," you lie vacantly.  "Of course ... "
On to Board 6 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 6: Denouement
      You consider the prospects of a low Heart — 2, in case it lulls Declarer into a false sense of security. 
      This is better whenever partner holds a singleton A or J and in some instances when partner holds the doubleton Ace or Jack. 
      A low Heart loses, whenever the opposition's Heart holdings split 2-2 and when your side, with no chance of beating 3NT, needs to cash its tricks quickly.  At IMPs, you would lead a low Heart. 

      This being matchpoints, you decide to get whatever tricks you can by leading a Heart honour.  You reach for K before pausing for thought.  Clearly, K is what would be considered correct by any normal partner. 
      For this reason — and no other — you lead the Heart ... Q!

Dummy
J x x
8 7
J 10 x
K Q x x x
You
K 5
K Q 4 3 2
Q 8 3
10 7 6
Pard
x x x x
J 9 6
x x x x
x x
Declarer
A Q 10 x
A 10 5
A K x
A J x

      As soon as you see dummy — and before you see partner's card — you are glad that you led a Heart honour. 
If Declarer had J, instead of, say, J, your side would likely score only the K after a small Heart lead. 

      Whenever one was led, a Heart honour was allowed to win the first trick.  For some of those holding your partner's J96, the K lead presented a problem: to encourage (playing West for KQ) or discourage (expecting West to hold AK) ?   Most chose correctly. 
      Those that didn't presented an ethical problem to the opening leader, since the time it took for East to decide to discourage revealed J.  This being the honest game it was, these West's switched to a Club and spat up –460. 

      Your Q presented partner no such problem.  He encouraged, you continued.  Declarer could have cashed 9 tricks, but correctly decided to take the Spade finesse.  Down one, for a near top your way. 

      "Brilliant choice of leads," partner commends.  "You knew I couldn't have A, so you looked for the one useful card I could own: J.  Very good !   Reminds me of a ruse I know: the opponents lead a King and ... "

      You tune him out, look upwards, squint and whisper: "Are You having fun yet ?"
On to Board 7 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 7: Denouement
      Playing Canapé, North began with 1.
North
J x x x
x
A J x
A K Q x x
   
South
10 x x x
A K 10
10 9 x x
J x
South's 2 raise was not entirely encouraging (6-8 HCPs, 4+ Spades), but South ventured on unabated with 3.  North had full value for his 3NT call.  Finding the Kxx onside gave Declarer 3 Diamonds, 5 Clubs and 2 Hearts for +630.

      No matchpoints for you here !   Partner is, of course, effusive with praise for the opponents.
      You, meanwhile, are doing the math: 2 more hands against these guys, twenty more with this partner.  Then to the "28th Board", a bar across the street, for a good stiff drink ...  
On to Board 8 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 8: Denouement
      At virtually every other table, North opened 1NT and East played in 2 for +110 or +140.  At your table, North's 1NT opening is alerted.  Partner asks and is told that 1NT promised a flat hand of 13-16 HCPs and a "core" of 4-3, 4-4 or 5-3 in Spades and Hearts respectively. 

NorthPardSouthYou
1NT* 2 2 Dble*
3 Pass Pass Pass
      Over your partner's 2, South looks at the vulnerability and bids 2.  You make a defensive double over 2, supporting your partner's Hearts.  North's 3 call ends the auction. 

      To make matters worse, South finds your partner's AJ, draws trumps and chalks up +140 in 3.  Fixed like a dog at the vet, you roll your eyes and brace yourself for the post mortem. 
      Out of curiousity, your Partner asks R.H.: "Why Spades ?   Why does your 1NT opening promise four Spades ?"

      "It's the only suit we can't bid and then rebid 1NT," comes the reply.  The three of them begin discussing the problems involved in Responder competing with 4-card suits opposite a more standard 1NT opening. 

      "Exactly," concludes the wildman.  "Opener's possible doubleton hangs over Responder's throat like Poe's pendulum."
On to Board 9 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 9: Denouement
      Results from the other tables were more mixed on this hand.  Many played in a Spade game, many in 2, and a few pairs in 1NT.  As your side passed, the Valentines auction proceeded:
NorthSouth
1   – Canapé, 12-18 HCPs.
1NT*   – Unlimited force.
2*   – 15-18, 1-suited.
2NT*   – "Short suit ?"
3*   – Short in Clubs.
3NT   – To play.

      This turned out to be one of the more interesting play problems from the session:
North
K Q 10 x x x
A x x
A Q x
x
Pard
J 7 6
K Q J x
x x
J 7 4 2
You
9 x
x x x
K x x x
A x x x
South
A 8
10 x x
J 10 x x
K Q 10 x

      At first glance, 4 seems like an easy contract. 
Declarer North wins the Heart lead, puts hir small Club on the table and eventually pitches two Diamonds on the KQ.  However, 4 actually failed at most tables where it was bid!
      Some Norths played two rounds of trumps, ending up in dummy and then tried for a possible overtrick, finessing in Diamonds. 
      Others found a more adventurous way to fail: North led a Club from hir hand at trick Two.  East won A and put partner in with a Heart.  West cashed the second Heart winner and then played the 13-th Heart !   North could have guessed to ruff in with 10, but would then worry seeing East discard a Club.  Would the KQ still cash ?   Instead, most Norths pitched a Diamond on the 13-th Heart.  East's 9 forced A from dummy (South) and Declarer then had to guess to finesse in Spades rather than play for J dropping.  Many怀went wrong, misguessing on this line of play.

      At your table, playing in 3NT, Declarer South holds up twice on your partner's K lead, wins the third round perforce with A, and leads the Club from dummy.  South's K holds the trick, as he carefully notes your partner's discouraging 2.  Assuming six Spades, one Club and two red Aces, 3NT is now secure. 
But, +400 will not fare well against +420 in 4

      South pondered the matchpoint considerations.
How many pairs would reach & make 4 with these cards ?
The Diamond finesse was 50-50, but even if it lost, 3NT might still make if East has A, but not the fourth Heart (as was, in fact, the case).  And, of course, the Diamond hook may be necessary in some cases where East has four Spades:

e.g.    J x x x    x x x    x x x    A x x . 

      Eventually, South decides to "go for the gusto".  He holds his breath, as you win the K.  Do you hold the fourth Heart ?   If not, was your partner's 2 a ploy from Axxx designed to lull South into a false sense of security ?   If so, South resolves to tip his hat to the defence and accept –50. 
      As it turned out, though, you could only cash your A to hold 3NT tight.  +400 and a well-deserved near-top for N-S.

      You have had more than enough of these guys and are anxious to move on.  Not so your partner, who becomes very animated, scribbling two hands down on separate pieces of paper before presenting them as a challenge to the Valentiners. 

      "This is a hand Tom Edwards posted to the rec.games.bridge newsgroup.  How would you guys bid it ?   You first, R.H.  IMPs, both vulnerable."
R. H.
5
A
A 9 6 5
A K J 10 6 4 3  
    
S. G.
10 9 8
J 10 5 4  
K Q 3
8 7 2

      Their auction proceeds with R.H.'s forcing 1 and relay rebids opposite S.G.'s mostly natural bidding:
NorthSouth
1 1NT  – 6-8 HCPs, flat. 
2 2  – 4 Hearts. 
2 2NT  – No 2nd suit; hence, 3-4-3-3. 
3 3  – Minimum. 
3 4  – Forced cuebid of A or K. 
4 5  – Forced cuebid of Q. 
6

      The opponents frown at your partner, wondering why he would give them such an "easy" hand to bid.  None too soon, the Director calls the move for the next round. 
On to Board 10 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 10: Denouement
      6 was a very popular contract, with results depending largely on the opening lead.  Your partner put the Heart trey on the table.  The whole hand was:
Dummy
A 9 x
Q x
A K Q x
A 10 x x
Pard
4 3 2
4 3 2
5 4 3 2
4 3 2
You
K x x
K J 10 x x
x
J x x x
Declarer
Q J 10 x
A 9 x
J 10 x x
K Q

      The Q, K and A were played at trick One.  Declarer played two rounds of trumps, saw the 4-1 break and carefully played the KQ before taking the Spade finesse.  Your two major suit tricks gave your side +100 and a tie for top. 

      "Nice lead, partner !" "Elementary," he replies dismissively.  "When in doubt, lead the suit above Declarer's first bid.  Declarer opened 1.  I led a Heart."

      Simple game. 
On to Board 11 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 11: Denouement
      Not having faced such a situation before, RHO could not pass with any confidence that his partner, South, would feel compelled to back into the auction.  RHO's double ended matters. 

RHO
J x
A K Q x
A J 10
A K Q x
Pard
K Q 10 9 x x
J x
x x x
J x
You
A x x
x x x
K Q x x x
x x
South
x x
x x x x
x x
x x x x x

      While your partner chalks up +470 making 8 tricks, RHO leans across to his partner and asks: "It seems we missed 4 game.  If I had passed 2 rather than doubled, would you have felt compelled to bid with your yarborough ?"

      South shook his head.  You cradle yours in your hands.  Why have the Fates decided to grace such actions as your partner's with success ?

      Reporting partner's psyches to the TD was a dicey affair.  This particular director generally took a dim view on anyone psyching three times in the same month, let alone three times on the same hand. 
      The director arrives and makes it clear to your partner that no further psyching would be tolerated during this session.  "Sorry," your partner replies, "but I'm afraid that would be unfair."

      "What ? !", bellowed the director, unaccustomed to having his authority challenged. 

      "It wouldn't be equitable," partner explained politely. 
"It would put my partner in the unique position of knowing that no more of my bids could be psychic.  Our opponents, who haven't «shot their bolt yet», would be at a distinct disadvantage.  You see my point, don't you ?"

      "Umm, yes, well," stammered the director, "carry on, then.  But I'll be watching you two !"

      A random thought flitters through your brain: "Maybe if I were to fake a seizure ... "
On to Board 12 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 12: Denouement
      Partner piped in with a lead-directing 3 call.

Declarer
K x x
A K 9 x x
K x x
x x
Pard
J 10 x
Q x x x
A x x
x x x
You
A Q 9 8 x
x x
J 10 9 x
J x
Dummy
x x
J 10
Q x x
A K Q x x x

      North was happy to bid 3NT over the 3 call, looking at strength in both pointed suits.  In 3NT, matters rested.

      Your failure to lead partner's Club "suit" against 7 on Board 1 served as a lesson.  Without thought, you bang down J.  Declarer ducks, Partner rises with A and shifts to J.  Five tricks later, Declarer claimed for down two.  +200 for E-W.

      Results from other tables were very mixed.  At most, 3NT made anywhere from 9 to 13 tricks, depending on lead and greed.  Some N-S pairs played in 4 but only one chalked up +620.  Most pairs in 4 spat up –100. 

      When Declarer asks your partner about the 3 call, you hear the explanation: "Just biddin' what I had.  I had three Diamonds, I bid three Diamonds ... "

      "DIRECTOR !"
On to Board 13 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 13: Denouement
Dummy
A J 5
K 10 4
K 10 8 7
9 4 2
Pard
10 9 3 2
A 9 3
Q 4
K 8 6 5
You
Q 7 6 4
J 7 5
6 5 2
10 7 3
Declarer
K 8
Q 8 6 2
A J 9 3
A Q J

      Declarer could play on the other suits first, but would not have found many clues.  Instead, he plays a Diamond to K.  You contribute 2.  On the 10, you play 5.  Declarer goes into a long huddle, glances once to his left, once to his right and plays ... A !

      This guess allowed the Ram to be one of the few Declarers to scramble home with 9 tricks from these 28 HCPs.

      "Sorry, pard," you apologize.  "I guess he must have picked up on my count signal in Diamonds."

      Partner shook his head.

      "I don't think so.  It is true that too many players will give an honest count from three small, I don't think that is what tipped him off here.  It appears that he was about to pay you a compliment, finessing you for the Q, when he seems to have changed his mind."

      The Ram nodded.  "Yes," he concurred obnoxiously, "I was about to apply the Riley Rule: always take your finesses into the lesser player, since he is less likely to know what to continue."

      "The Riley Rule ?" I queried.  "Never heard of it."

      "Of course," the Ram continued, "had this been rubber bridge, I would do the exact opposite, allowing the Rubber Bridge Theory of Relativity to take precedence."

      "The Rubber Bridge Theory of Relativity ?" I wondered aloud. 

      "High Card Points x I.Q.  Points = a constant," partner explained indulgently before turning his attention back to the Ram. 

      "So," partner persisted, "why did you change your mind ?"

      "Well," the Ram wheezed, "I stopped and asked myself: what the heck am I doing ?   Neither of these guys is any good !   So, I played for the drop !"
On to Board 14 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 14: Denouement
RHO
Q J 10 x
Q
K Q x x x
Q 10 x
Pard
x x
10 x x x x x x
x x
x x
You
K x x
A x x
A 10 x
A x x x
RAM
A x x x
K J
J x x
K J x x

LoonRHOYouRAM
1NTPass
2NT!Pass3NTPass
PassPass

      On the small Spade lead, partner dummy laid his hand down.

      "No wasted values," he quips. 

      Despite the disappointing dummy (you had expected somewhat more), 3NT proved unbeatable. 
      Your +400 sparkled as the only plus score opposite all of the –170s and –420s for those E-W pairs, who defended Spade contracts.  Indeed, the assistant TD subsequently approached your opponents twice to confirm the result. 

      The Ram, at least, seemed displeased with your partner's bidding.  From all appearances, one might infer that the Ram had never considered the pre-emptive value of Notrump raises. 

      "Why 2NT ? !", he demands indignantly.  "Why wouldn't you bid your Hearts ?"

      Your partner looks at the score sheet before glancing up quizzically at the Ram. 

      "Hearts ?", partner wonders as a frown crosses his brow.  "Just how bad do you think I am ?"
On to Board 15 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 15: Denouement
You:
K Q J 4
A 10
A Q 9 7 3
Q 5
Pard:
9 8 5 3
K
K J 2
A 9 7 5 4

      This hand offered you your chance to shine.  Playing Italian style cuebids, the auction began:

PardYou
Pass 1
1 3
4 4
4 ??

      And here, you were at the crossroads.  The last three bids simply confirmed 1st or 2nd round control of the side suits.  Because you hold two of the top three trump honours, you are now permitted to go beyond 4.  But with what ?   If you Blackwood and partner shows an Ace, how will you know A or A ?
      Is this the price you pay for not playing standard cuebids, where 4 would have promised A ?

      A better question crosses your mind: what would your deranged partner bid with this hand ?   In a flash, it comes to you ...

PardYou
Pass 1
1 3
4 4
4 5
5 Pass

5, in effect, shuts out partner from showing A.  Needless to say, 5 was your first experience with such "pre-emptive cuebidding".
      Partner correctly inferred that his A was not of any interest to you and, with nothing else to show, signed off in 5

      Of course, holding:

   A 8 5 3    2    K J 2    K 9 7 5 4

      Your partner would leap directly to 6

You (Dummy)
K Q J 4
A 10
A Q 9 7 3
Q 6
Ram
A 7
Q 7 6 5 3
10 4
K J 10 8
Ram's Pard
9 6 2
J 9 8 4 2
8 6 5
3 2
Pard
10 8 5 3
K
K J 2
A 9 7 5 4

      The Ram's Heart lead against 5 ran around to your partner's K.  He put a small Spade on the table.  The Ram absent-mindedly played 7.

      Seeing his K hold the trick, partner stopped to take stock.  He scratched his head and looked over at the Ram before proceeding. 
He cashed A, tossing K.  Then he led a Diamond to his J, noting the Ram's 10.  A second round of Diamonds and a spade from dummy endplayed the Ram. 

      "Bravo !" you shout, clapping your hands.  "But why did you risk the contract for an overtrick ?   You were already ahead of the pairs in 6 down one — "

      "Sorry, guys," the Ram butted in, trying to justify his error.  "I guess a lesser player might have saved time by leading a Club from my hand at trick One."

      "Yes," you concede, surveying the room, "but where would we find a lesser player ?"
On to Board 16 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 16: Denouement
      "Why do we have to play all of these gadgets ?" you had complained before the session started.

      "Humour me," your partner begged.  Sure enough, the opportunity has arisen to apply one of those gizmos. 

Pard:
A J x
A 10 x x
x
A K x x x
    
You:
9 x x
K x x x
K x x x
x x
      On this hand, your partner opens 1 (natural) and you dredge up a reluctant 1 reply.  2 by him.  You alert.  The lady on your right asks for an explication. 

      "A Perverse Reverse," you tell her.  "Partner may have any one of three hand types:
   (a) A normal, natural reverse with both minors;
   (b) A long solid Club suit and secondary Heart support; or
   (c) A 2½ Heart raise;

      Of these, the latter is the most common," you conclude. 

PardYou
1 1
2 2
??
      If you were curious, you would now bid the cheapest unbid denomination (i.e., 2 here), allowing partner to rebid:

2NT – Short Spades OR Short Diamonds, Heart support. 
      – A 3 rebid by you would then ask for the
      short suit (3 = D x/void, 3 = S x/void). 
3 – Natural reverse: 4 Diamonds, 6+ Clubs. 
3 – Natural reverse: 5 Diamonds, 6+ Clubs. 
3 – 2-4-2-5-ish, Heart support, no short suit. 
3NT – Solid Clubs, Honour-x or xxx in Hearts.
      (N.B.: 1:1:3NT would deny secondary support)

      On his occasion, you aren't curious, so you sign off in 2 — which, of course, does not promise extra Heart length. 
You now expect partner to pass (with good Heart support) or rebid naturally (without good Heart support). 

PardYou
1 1
2* 2
2* 2NT*
3* 3
      But, partner wants to invite 4 again.  He rebids 2, promising good Heart support.  You play along and rebid 2NT to discover his shortness.  His 3 rebid (shortness in Diamonds) brings you to a screeching halt in 3.  Had he bid 3 (showing shortness in Spades), you would have leapt into 4.

      Ten of Spades lead (from K1083, no less !).  Hearts break 3-2, Clubs 4-2.  The defence collects two Spades, A, and a trump.  Your +140 nets you an average-plus against the pairs who blindly drove to 4 with the West hand. 

      You catch yourself before asking: "Know any other gadgets, pard ?" No sense encouraging him ...  
On to Board 17 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 17: Denouement
North:
K x x
J 8 7 6 2
A Q x
K Q
  
South:
A Q
Q 5 4 3
K J x x
A J x
NorthSouth
1 3
3 4
4 4

      Declarer (North) won your opening Spade lead in dummy and ducked a trump to your (East's) stiff A.  +450 and a tie for top their way. 

      "Nicely played," you congratulate, "and nicely bid.  By the way, what was the 3 cuebid ?"

      "We play Cubic Cuebids," North explained.  "On the first level, we just show controls.  You know, 1st or 2nd round controls, just like the Italians.  You know, Belladonna and Garozzo ?"

      You nod, allowing as how you've heard of them.

      "But once we have the three other suits controlled," North continued, "we look at Aces and the KQ of trump — six cards.  You know, like the six sides of a cube ?"

      Yes, you've heard they have six sides. 

      "Once 4 confirmed all suits controlled," North concluded, "I could only cuebid an Ace, if I had two of the top three trump honours.  I didn't, so I bid 4
      Partner could have bid 5 to ask me for one of the top three, or could have used Key Card Blackwood.  But that might have gotten us too high ... "

      "Exactly," South concurred.  "And there's no sense going to 5, if you're not going to bid six."

      You try not to roll your eyes at the revelation.

      "Um, I've never known you ladies to bid like this," you persist.  "Mind if I ask where you learned this stuff about «Cubic Cuebids» ?"

      Both opponents look at you quizzically before pointing at your partner.  You try to ignore his coprophaegic grin as you chalk up another bottom board. 
On to Board 18 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 18: Denouement
      Well, it's a safe bet that the ruling is not going to go your way.  The good news is that one of the better-humoured Directors comes to the table.  Upon hearing the facts, the Director commands the four of you play out the hand before calling him back for a decision.  Partner puts the Joker back in his pocket and leads a small Spade. 

Dummy
Q x x
Q x
A 10 9 x x
J x x
Pard
K J x x
K J x
K x
K 10 x x
You
x x x
x x x x
J x x
x x x
Declarer
A 10 x
A 10 x x
Q x x
A Q x
      Declarer wins with 10, plays to A and runs 10.  In with K, partner exits with a Spade to dummy's Q.  A diamond to her Q establishes the suit for Declarer, who then leads the Q.  When partner errs by ducking, Declarer switches to a small Heart and cannot be prevented from making 11 tricks. 

      The Director returns to the table. 

      "Since West has failed to lead a Club, Diamond, Heart or Spade, I am awarding a two trick penalty.  +720, N-S."

      "Congratulations," the Director says to your partner, "you are the first player in bridge history to revoke on opening lead."

      "Oh, well," you sigh, "minus –660 was going to be a bottom anyway, so it didn't really cost us anything."

      "Au contraire," partner intones, "the Joker lead marked me for all of the outstanding Kings.  Sorry, pard.  It seems I tipped my hand."

      With this, he apologizes to everyone for the kerfuffle, excuses himself and goes to get a drink at the bar. 

      "Why does your partner carry a Joker in his pocket ?" dummy inquires. 

      You shrug and make your best guess: "Identification ?"
On to Board 19 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 19: Denouement
      Your problem is that 4 is likely to be a bloodbath, while a 3-card black suit holding from partner might allow 4 or 5 to make.  South could hold:
Your Hand
A K J 10 x
J
x
A K 10 x x x
South #1:
x
Q x x x x x
10 x x x
x x
  
South #2:
x
A x x x x
J x x x
Q x x
  
South #3:
x x x
Q x x x x x
Q 10 x
x

      Most North players removed to 4, sat for a double and saw South put down Hand #1.  Those who ran from the double of 4 to 5 fared little better.  Scores ranged from –100 all the way up to "sticks and wheels" (i.e., –1100). 

      You run to 4, hear another double that registered on the Richter scale, and come to rest in a firmly doubled 5

You
A K J 10 x
J
x
A K 10 x x x
West
x x x
A K 10 x
A J 10 x
Q x
East
Q 9 x x
x x
K x x x
J x x
South
x
Q x x x x x
10 x x x
x x
WestYouEastPard
Pass
1 Dble 2 4
Dble! 4 Pass Pass
Dble! 5 Pass Pass
Dble! Pass Pass Pass

      On the trump lead, you cashed two Spades before establishing that suit with a trump finesse.  Down two.  "Well," you conclude, "it seems we did as best we could, given the problem we faced over 4 doubled."

      Partner and both opponents shake their heads in unison.  "The solution to the problem," partner intones quietly, "is to avoid the problem altogether."

      "Pardon ?"

      "We should be playing Dynamic 1NT overcalls," continues the Lunatic, "as our opponents are."

WestYouEastPard
Pass
1 1NT* Pass 2
Pass 3 3 Pass
Pass Pass
      Your LHO takes up the cue and demonstrates how they would've bid these hands:

      North's 1NT overcall was explained as Dynamic, usually showing an off-shape takeout double.  South's 2 was weak, showing 6+ Hearts and 0-2 Spades.  North finds 3 and then sells out to 3.  Collecting two tricks in each Black suit and a Spade ruff would give E-W +50 — the only plus score registered in that direction. 

      You decide not to wait until game's end to embibe.  As you stride back from the bar, you find the Canadian Clubbers explaining their auction on Board 17.
North:
K x x
J 8 7 6 2
A Q x
K Q
    
South:
A Q
Q 5 4 3
K J x x
A J x
NorthSouth
1  – 11-15 HCPs, 5+ Hearts.
2  – Golady. Game-forcing, Staymanic. 
2  – No second 4+card suit. 
2   – DIET TAB. "Strength ?  Trumps ?  KeyCards ?"
2NT – A maximum. 14-15 HCPs. 
3  – "Q ?   Key Cards ?"
3NT  – 5 Hearts, no Q, 2 Key Cards. 
4 – Sign-off, missing two Key Cards. 

      "I remember reading about the DIET TAB in the Bridge World and in Amalya Kearse's «Bridge Conventions Complete»," your partner comments.  "Very impressive."

      You glare at your partner as he fawns over the opponents.  "Speaking of DIETs," you think to yourself, "eight more boards and I'll be able to shed about 180 unwanted pounds ... "
On to Board 20 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 20: Denouement
North:
A 8 x x x
x x
K Q x
A 9 x
   
South:
Q x x
A K x x
A
K Q J 10 x x

      As you and your partner passed helplessly, the Canadian Clubbers bid as follows, alerting and explaining every step of the way:
NorthSouth
1 – 11 to 15, 5+ Spades
2 – Golady, Game forcing Stayman (no less !)
2 – No 2nd suit, transferring back to Spades
2 – DIET TAB. "Spades ?   HCPs ?   Key Cards ?"
3  – 5 Spades, minimum, no Q, 2 Key Cards. 
3NT – "What is your DOUBLETON ?"
4 – 1st Step = Highest ranked: doubleton
4 – "Kings outisde Spades ?"
4 – One non-trump King. 
4NT – "Anything extra ?"
5 – Concentrated Diamond values (KQ)
5NT – Grand Slam Force. "Spades ?"
6 – The Ace of Spades. 
??

      Holding:

   K J 10 9    Q J 10    J 10 x x    x x
... in front of North's A8xxx, you reach into your pocket for a hankerchief to wipe up the spittle forming at the sides of your mouth.  With your other hand, you reach into your bidding box for a red card. 

      Suddenly, you hear RHO bid the final contract: 7!

      Seven CLUBS ?   Where did that come from ?

      You place the red card onto the table.  After all, a double is unlikely to cost you any matchpoints and, if 7 fails, may be necessary to keep pace with pairs incurring disaster in 6

      RHO rewinds, wins your opening Q lead and claims beavered 7, after ruffing 2 Heart losers in dummy, tossing his Spade losers on the KQ and drawing trumps.  You are then subjected to an analysis by the three others at the table about how fortunate South was to not hold 9, which would've made 7NT possible on a squeeze in the majors. 

      Well, you were right about one thing: the Double didn't cost you any matchpoints !   Oh, sure, it may have cost you a large part of your sanity and composure, but NO MATCHPOINTS !
On to Board 21 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 21: Denouement
      Gratified that your A cashed, you wonder if your A will be as lucky.  Had North simply "taken the bull by the horns" and leapt to 6, trusting partner to hold a second Ace ?   Did he have solid majors and two quick minor suit losers ?  Or did he have a Void in Clubs and a Spade loser ?

      Feeling that you have nothing to go on, you shrug your shoulders and bang down A.  Declarer covered this with his entire hand, claiming 6.
North
K 10 x x x
A K Q J 10 x x
x
Pard
Q J x x
x x
8 7 5 3
J 6 3
You
x
x
A J 10 9 x
A x x x x x
Dummy
A x x
x x x
K Q x
K Q x x

      Partner and both opponents turned and stared at you as if you had committed some unpardonable gaffe.  Eventually, South breaks the silence.  "Excuse me for asking," he started slowly, "but why did you choose to ignore your partner's 3 count signal for Clubs ?"
On to Board 22 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 22: Denouement
      Your pre-game discussion with partner had been a nightmare.  Your partner spewed out an alphabet soup of acronyms for conventions you had never encountered.  Through the maze of swirling names, you vaguely remember something about "Lover's Leap".  It pertained to precisely this auction, but what exactly was it ? 

PardNorthYouSouth
Pass1
2 Pass 2NT Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
3,4
      Slowly, you piece it together.  Because Advancer (you, in this case) could bid 2NT, hear partner bid 3 and then bid 3 with length in that suit, an immediate 3 bid is free for artificial use.  Whereas 3 would be a simple preference, 3 can be used here as an invitation to 4

      Your 3 call fetches a quick 3 from partner, who happened to hold the West#2 hand above.  Partner scrambled for 9 tricks.  Your +140 fared very well against the East's who had shrugged their shoulders and unilaterally jumped to 4

      "Well done !" your partner lauds.  "I didn't know whether you'd remember Lover's Leap."

      "I wouldn't have," you confess, "if I hadn't asked why you called it that.  A bid of 3 to invite a jump to 4.  Hence, «Lover's Leap»."

      You are justifiably proud of yourself, having recalled what conventions you were playing with this maniac.  Now, if only you could recall why you were playing with him ...  
On to Board 23 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 23: Denouement
North
K
10 8 5
A K Q 9
9 8 6 5 2
Pard
Q 10 8 4
2
J 10 7 3
K J 7 3
You
7 5 3 2
A Q J 7 4
8 4 2
4
Declarer
A J 9 6
K 9 6 3
6 5
A Q 10

      Partner finds the 4 lead.  In with dummy's K, Declarer led a small Club and finessed Q.  In with K, partner switched to 7.  With so few entries to dummy, Declarer saw no reason to inserted 9.  Rising with A, Declarer led a club to her 10, which partner allowed to hold.  A. 
      Declarer tries one more ploy: she travels to dummy with her second Diamond and puts your partner in with a Club, hoping he is endplayed. 
      But partner exits with his carefully preserved 2.  You win A and lead a Spade through Declarer.  Partner wins his Q, cashes J and returns a Spade, leaving Declarer to concede the setting trick to your Q.

      "Nice Double.  Nice Defence," you compliment, while making a mental note to firm up your overcalls a little.

      "Routine," partner yawns. 
On to Board 24 To Index of Chapters
To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 24: Denouement
      While only the most incurable optimist could characterize your luck so far as being "good", you have, at least, managed to survive 23 boards without being squeezed at trick Two:
North
K Q 9 8 7 5
K 6
Q 9 4 2
A
Pard
A 3
10 5 4
J 7 6 5
7 5 4 2
You
2
A J 8 7
A K 10 3
K Q 8 6
South
J 10 6 4
Q 9 3 2
8
J 10 9 3

      Sitting East, you chose to double North's 4
      A trump lead to partner's A prompted him to return another Spade.  Declarer won this with K and waited for you to discard and tell her in which suit she'd be getting her tenth trick.  –590. 

      "I'll try to hold more next time," your partner soothes. 

      A next time ?   Does he really think there's going to be a next time ?

Thanks to Drew Cannell for contributing Hand #24 !
On to Board 25 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page







Board 25: Denouement
YouNorthPardSouth
1 2 Dble*
Pass 3NT Pass 4
Pass 4 Pass Pass
      North chose to leap to 3NT. 
At his turn, excited South cuebid 4.
North put the brakes on with 4 and the hand was played there. 
North
A K Q 4 3
8 7
K Q 9 2
Q 8
You
J 7
Q J 10 8 6 5
5
J 10 6 5
Pard
6 5 2
4
A J 10 7 6 4 3
7 2
South
10 9 8
A K 3 2
8
A K 9 4 3

Your partner led his singleton Heart and Declarer chalked up 680, making 6. 

      Seeing that the defence could beat 6 with a diamond over-ruff, North guessed that this would be a very good result for their side. 

"Near bottom is my guess," South countered.  "We'll beat only those East's who are brave enough to cash A in the teeth of my Diamond cuebid.  Won't be many of those, I'm afraid."

      "I thought about passing the 2 overcall doubled," North explained, "but I didn't think we can get it for more than 500."

      "Didn't matter," South countered.  "Most players would jump to 3 with this East hand.  3 doubled you would pass with alacrity.  +800 will be the par score here, I'm afraid."

      Certain that South was correct in his assessment, you interject an obvious question: "Pard, why did you bid only 2 with that hand ?"

      "Just a matter of style," partner explained.  "I've found that the Ace of a 7-card suit is often worth two tricks on defence, since the very fact that we are defending increases the chances of partner having a singleton."

      "So with KJ10xxxx and nothing else you would have ... "

      " ... bid 3 and gone for my life," partner agreed.  "But, then, 6 would be cold, wouldn't it ?"

      As you cover your eyes to prevent them from rolling out of their sockets, partner continues: "And, of course, it never hurts to be lucky !"

      Luckier still was the fact that you had only two more boards to play with this character !   
On to Board 26 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 26: Denouement
      Your 7 would, of course, promise 10.  Marked with Three Hearts, with 976 you should ditch 9 at trick Two, unblocking the suit while utterly denying 10.

      You, of course, were helpful enough to play 9 at trick Two. 
Dummy (South)
K Q 3
5 4
Q 9 7 5
A Q J 7
Partner
10 8
K Q J 8
K 4 3
8 6 5 4
You
J 7 4 2
9 7 6
J 8 6
K 10 3
Declarer
A 9 6 5
A 10 3 2
A 10 2
9 2

      Most Declarers ducked at trick Two.  A Club switch and finesse at trick Three left You on lead.  Unable to lead both a Heart and a Club, most chose the former.  Declarer won A, played KQ and finessed 9.  On the last Spade, Partner was squeezed:
Dummy (South)
Q 9 7
A Q 7
Partner
J
K 4
8 6 5
You
J
J 8 6
10 3
Declarer
A
10
A 10 2
9

      At your table, Declarer, trusting your partner's 1 bid to show 5+ Hearts, won the second Heart trick and lost the Club finesse.  This allowed you to track through your last Heart.  Partner scooped up two Hearts and then found the critical second Club switch.  No more entry for the squeeze.

      "Well done, partner !" you gush. 

      "You too, pard," South said — with considerably less enthusiasm. 
On to Board 27 To Index of Chapters To Colin's Bridge Page






Board 27: Denouement
Dummy
K x x x x
K Q x x
K Q
A J
Pard
A Q
x x x
x x x x
10 9 8 x

      Declarer won partner's Club lead in hand with K, and immediately led 10.  Hoping that your only HCP would be J, partner played the Q

      Declarer thought for a while, looked at both of you, and then wondered if the Theory of Restricted Choice applied in a case where so many poor players would panic and play the Ace here.  Knowing that, in this case at least, the Theory made more mathematical sense than common sense, Declarer made the expert's choice here: he played ... small !   

      You deposited your singleton J under partner's Q, and watched as Declarer conceded down one.

      Upon seeing your partner's A, Declarer became effusive in his praise for the defence.  As you chorus your own approval, your partner engages Declarer in a discussion of the Theory. 
      Declarer explains that, had he known he was playing against an expert opponent, he'd have applied the TRC and played K.  After all, he argued, the "relevant holdings are AQ, AJ and QJ in your hand.  2-to-1 to rise with the King". 

      "How," your partner asks politely, "is AJ in my hand a relevant holding, once I play Q ?"

      Declarer went ashen white, hearing your partner challenge orthodoxy. 

      "It's like Monty Hall on «Let's Make a Deal»," Declarer explained indulgently.  "You make a 1-in-3 guess and, assuming you haven't chosen the booby prize goat, Monty shows you the goat and offers to let you switch.  Your chances haven't improved since the original choice.  You should switch.  The odds are 2-to-1.  Showing you a herd of goats won't change that.  Simple."

      "But what if you chose the goat originally ?   Isn't the game over before it begins ?"

      Before Declarer can respond, your partner looks at his watch and then out the window at the evening sky.  He thanks you warmly for the game, excuses himself and leaves. 



Epilogue
No one saw the stranger after that night.  You ask around.  Did anyone know where he came from ?   Where he went to ?   No.

The game just hasn't been the same since.  These days, you come out to the duplicate club only for evening sessions.
Once there, you insist on sitting North-South near the window.  On this particular night, your eyes glaze over as you tune out your partner's droning about how well he just executed a Stepping Stone Squeeze.  You turn your head and stare out at the heavens.  For a moment your gaze is captured by a bright star in a far-off constellation.  It flashes twice in tune with your heartbeat ...

... and disappears.


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