Poor Bridge of the Week
League Division What?
By Phil Smith

'Twas a cold winter's evening in Bradford, shortly after the handicapped pairs had finished, when I became acquainted with this little piece of poorbridge-ary. I was drinking at the bar (where else does one drink?) and discussing something or other, when Stuart Davies gave me this hand to consider. And after asking if I could use it as a PBotW, and receiving the expected "well it doesn't bother me" in reply, I got straight to work drinking some more beer. It wasn't until now that I started writing this article.

The hand and auction, at love all, were as follows:

None Vuln
Dealer N
S9 8
H9 7
DQ 6
C10 9 8 7 6 4 3

John DicksonGiles FosterStuart DaviesBill Townsend

(2)Hmm. More Lebensohl, apparently.
(4)Desire to bid hand three times over

SJ 10
H6 5 2
DK J 10 7 4 2
CJ 5
SA K Q 7 6 4 3
HQ 10 8 3
S5 2
HA K J 4
D9 8 5 3
CA K 2

So an overview might run something like this: East opens an Acol Two in spades and when it becomes obvious that the auction is working out about as well as strong opening auctions usually work (i.e. not well at all), decides to insert 4S. So far, so sane. We then come to a sequence of bids that proves that rubbish bids, like buses, come in threes. First up, is the pure fantasy 'lebensohl' bid — a real case of wanting the bid to have a meaning that partner is never, ever, going to pick up on. When South decides to bid 5D, presumably feeling that he had shown hearts already and thus showing his other four card suit, West makes the completely bizarre pass. One wonders what he would have needed to double! So, faced with the prospect of defending with his very nice hand, East decides that bridge really is a declarers game, and bids 5S.

But what of the contract?

Clearly North/South can cash the first three tricks (CA, HAK), but what actually happened was less optimal. South led the HK and partner gave the thumbs down by playing the nine. South then switched to a spade and declarer found the winning line. He cashed the DA and drew a second round of trumps ending in dummy (using up his only entry). With trumps now drawn, it was a simple matter of cashing the DK, finding that suit was in fact 4-2 with a doubleton queen, and claiming the rest.

Clearly the moral of this story is bid your hand three times and rely of partner to provide you with diamond tricks that he has denied holding in the auction — that's the way to score +650 non-vulnerable anyway.