Poor Bridge of the Week
He Played, She Played
By Ian Mitchell

Michael and Bryony recently published an article in which they had a disagreement about an auction leading to a less-than-optimum slam contract. It is quite clear, in my opinion, that both players misunderstood the 4C bid, which in any Poorbridge partnership is asking for aces, although there must always be some doubt about this, otherwise it can never be part of the 'Poorbridge Standard' system.

(By the way, Xebon, when are you going to conduct a 'bidding challenge'?) [Great idea!]

The intervening double, though, can cause confusion in any untried partnership — do you play ROPI or REPO, and when responding does a jump show a void? When I play with my favourite partner a jump would show that I would have responded in the same denomination at the level below, but that I also have a void (in a suit that you will have to guess). On this occasion, therefore, the correct response would be to pull out the stop card, and then redouble, to show an even number of aces and a void.

After this response, Bryony should have no trouble in bidding to 7D, which is a contract far superior to 6NT, in that it only fails by one trick.

Get to the point

Anyway the real reason why I write now is that the article reminded me that I had a similar disagreement with a female partner (not my usual one) in the same Swiss Pairs event at Harrogate in February. On this occasion, though, it was about the defence, not the auction, which caused a great argument. The auction was brief — South opened 2S (weak), which bought the dummy. Eleven tricks later, after a fair amount of ruffing and over-ruffing the defence had taken four tricks. Anybody who had been bothered to count would have known that all three hidden hands had two trumps left. The last eight cards (dummy's being irrelevant), with West on lead, were:

SA 10
SQ 7

You might expect that it would now be easy for the defence to wrap up the last two tricks, but somehow this wasn't to be: West led the SJ and East followed suit with the S10, and a surprised South made his contract.

West argued: "There can't be a situation when it's wrong to play the Jack — partner will always play his/her highest card, and we'll take the maximum number of tricks available. If Pard only has low cards it doesn't matter what I do."

East argued: "Partner knows I have two trumps left, and should play his/her highest card to clarify the situation to me. If partner plays the King, I can't get it wrong. Because he/she hasn't played it, it's obvious he/she doesn't have the King. It doesn't matter which card I play now, because declarer's going to get one trick anyway."

Can you guess which side was which? Obviously I was completely right and she was completely wrong, but she wouldn't see it that way. The most charitable compromise I could think of later was that both of us failed to take into account the possibility that our respective partners were complete idiots! Much later, I refined this conclusion: I failed to take into account that my partner was an idiot; she failed to take into account that I might have failed to take into account that she was an idiot.

Does this sound familiar?

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everybody from all the poorbridge.com team. We're all heading to the London Easter Congress so I'm sure there will be plenty of poor bridge appearing from there in the next few weeks!