We are at a juncture in modern bridge civilisation! You may not have realised this yet, but we are about to be called up to arms; to join the ranks of an army and fight to the death. Forces all around us are infringing on our liberties and we must take up our weapons!
But what are our poorbridge weapons? How are we to fight those well meaning do-gooders who would stop us bidding ourselves to high level contracts and then going lots off? Who would insist that we don't randomly lead unsupported aces? Who would make us count every hand? Who would object to a paragraph made up entirely of questions?
I had the privilege of going to a poorbridge training camp last Tuesday to see some classic weaponry being used first hand. To avoid the eye of the authorities, the camp had been called The Long Newton Bridge Club and the organisers held their meeting in a building where — allegedly — quite a lot of decent standard bridge was played: the secret police would surely never suspect a thing. My partner for the battle was Adam Matthews, and on the very first hand he showed off some excellent poorbridge manoeuvres...
The Punt Revoke
Our auction was uncontested.
And our cards were (hand rotated for clarity):
Needless to say, this contract requires quite a lot, but if the K is on-side then two spades can go on the top two hearts and all we need to do is play the clubs for one loser and then hope the diamonds break 3-3 — not too much to ask, surely? Well, the K was off-side so the first trick was ruffed in hand and there isn't a good way to dummy. After a few moments it transpired that the K J 4 of trumps were off-side. Oh dear.
Not feeling that this was quite bad enough, though, partner played on spades and revoked by throwing the A on the third round. So, in spite of diamonds being 3-3, there was in fact a diamond loser as well. Five off for -500. A truly great start to the evening.
Cutting Imaginary Communications
Good bridge players sometimes duck a trick early when playing at no-trumps to cut communications between the defenders. Some of these players have been foolish enough to try and indoctrinate poorbridge players into doing the same. Fortunately, the ever resourceful weaker players have not been brainwashed into playing well, and can confound the good-bridge fascists with this ingenious weapon. Still on the first round of the evening, south gallantly plays the following in 3NT:
Now with a spade, two hearts on the lead, three diamonds and five clubs and the tempo to set them up, 3NT should make easily enough. But South had other ideas. When East inserted the Q over the 6 from dummy, she ducked to cut communications! Then she ducked the heart continuation as well, and a slightly surprised West cleared the suit. He then won the club switch and cashed another two hearts for one off. Nicely done.
Imaginarily Cutting Communications
This weapon might sound like it is similar to the last, but like the mighty AK-47 and landmines they are very different indeed. In the forthcoming bridge wars, every situation will need its own weapon, so having this little gem in one's armoury could save your reputation one day. Look at this hand:
The contract is the ever-so-sensible 4 by South, where prospects look pretty good. There are eight tricks on top, ten if the trumps break 3-2, lots of tricks if the J falls in three rounds and the trumps are 3-2. Hell, even if the trumps are 4-1 you could just ruff a diamond early and make ten (or more if the Q is held to three). But let us look at what happens when the defence imaginarily cut communications...
The defence start by cashing the top two spades, and seeing that trumps are obviously breaking, East tries a club in the hope that declarer has a singleton and somehow can't draw trumps and get to dummy. South does have a singleton, but can cunningly draw trumps in three rounds ending with the King. To be clear, South could play the Ace and Queen of trumps first and then a final trump to the King in dummy, making 11. Sadly, South actually played the K and then drew another two rounds ending in hand. The diamond pips were not quite good enough, so she now lost two diamonds having made only one of those lovely clubs — one off.
100 Times Again!
At the end of the hand, South cursed East for having been cunning enough to play a club and force her to go off. With expert hand analysis like this, I feel confident that we will win the forthcoming bridge wars. We shall send the snobs and their never ending astute analysis packing. We will confound their squeeze plays by throwing away the vital card at trick three. We will play Gerber. We will pass cue bids. We will revoke. We will under-ruff because we thought we were playing in no-trumps.
And most of all, we will generate another 100 Poor Bridge of the Weeks and then 100 more. Because hard luck stories about how you lost in the final of Gold Cup are just not as interesting as the hand where partner went for 800 when he could have made by simply remembering that there was a trump out and drawing it. Unless that was in the final of the Gold Cup, of course.