Poor Bridge of the Week
The Bradford Bridge Club Blooper
By Phil Smith

Is there such a thing as a geographical mistake? I don't mean the kind of mistake that allows a complete dump like Southend-on-Sea to exist — that mistake obviously exists, as anyone who has had the misfortune of going there can tell you. What I'm talking about is an error that exists within one bridge club or region, but not elsewhere. Is there a club somewhere in this crazy world where most of the players try to drop queens from eight card suits rather than finesse because they all think it's the right thing to do? While I don't know of a bridge club where that is a problem, there does seem to be an error, a shocking error, that seems to be prevalent at Bradford Bridge Club. Let me introduce you to what I shall call the Bradford Bridge Club Blooper.

The Blooper

Here is a specimen of the blooper. It's club night at Bradford, and the auction is this:


The 2H bid was alerted as something or other.

The west hand finds a pass initially and then doubles, and then bids two and three hearts... what could he hold? Was the initial pass a psychic on a strong distributional hand? Er, no, the hand was more pedestrian:

S7 5 4
HA K 4 3
DA 4 3
C8 6 5

Yes, you see that right — let's look at the horrible bids that West made.
  1. Holding a balanced 11 count, West decides to double 1D.
  2. He removes partner's 2C bid to opponent's suit holding three-card support and only four hearts.
  3. Then he figures that partner's 2S isn't worth standing, or even going back to clubs, but rather bids THREE HEARTS!
Anyway, I may as well reveal the full hand so that you, the reader, can see the full rubbishness of this bidding!

SA 10 6 2
H10 9 7 6 5 2
D7 6
S7 5 4
HA K 4 3
DA 4 3
C8 6 5
S8 3
HQ 8
DK 9 5 2
C10 7 4 3 2
SK Q J 9
DQ J 10 8
CA Q J 9

Not only is West bidding horribly, East decided to get in on the action by bidding 2C for no good reason, and when unsure of what was going on, decided to get that xx of spades into the auction with a 2S bid!

Fortunately, on this occasion, fortune did not favour the clinically insane, and the contract failed by four tricks for +800 to the other side. Perhaps most amusing from the play point of view is that after the diamond lead, declarer cashes the other top diamond and then exits with a third. South takes the third diamond and cashes four black suit tricks. North was then left with six trumps in his hand, the contract already defeated!

More Blooping

When I was first given the above hand, I thought it was a nice poor bridge of the week and didn't really think all that much about it. But then, while drinking at the bar of Bradford B.C. (no really, I was!), the following action was presented to me:


And so again we have a passed hand that is able to bid opponents' suit twice in an auction, this time having already cued the opponents' first bid suit. What kind of layout could possibly lead to this strange occurrence? Could the fact that East is a responding hand somehow make all these bids sane? Well no. Here is the full deal:

SJ 8 6 2
H6 5 3
DA 10 7
C10 8 5
S9 4
HQ J 9 4
DQ J 2
CK Q 4 3
SA 7 5 3
H8 2
DK 5 4
CJ 9 7 6
SK Q 10
HA K 10 7
D9 8 6 3
CA 2

So you see, East actually had an eight count with all of four cards in spades. To be charitable to East, we could look at West's bidding for a second and note that the double of 1D was produced on an ace-less 11 count that includes xx in spades! To be charitable to West, the rest of the bids are (perhaps) somewhat forced, which is probably why sane people don't double in this spot with sub-minimal values and an unsuitable distribution.

The contract fails by four tricks for +1100 to the other side, when the defence collect two hearts, a diamond, a club and a club ruff plus three trump tricks due to East's spades being headed by the A7. This was a top for North-South.

Elements of The Blooper

We see a pattern emerging, a pattern so poor that surely it can't have been reproduced at any other geographical location. We have:

  • A double based on a shape-unsuitable 11 count.
  • Bidding opponents' suit twice, naturally, with a four card suit and minimal values.
  • Landing in 3(major)X-4 for a justified bottom.
  • So the next time you witness the above poorbridge features coming together to give you an easy top for no obvious reason then realise that you have just experienced the Bradford Bridge Club Blooper. My advice: walk over to the bar, order a drink from Bob, and sit down and tell me all about it — you would obviously be playing at Bradford Bridge Club.