Poor Bridge of the Week
Beware the Pseudo-Psyche!
By Nick Smith

Due to some freakish good fortune and residence in a non-first-class county, I found myself leading the troops into battle in the mysteriously-named Pachabo Cup. When you are representing the county and fighting for a trophy donated in 1763 by the Nawab of Pachabo himself, it's important to keep your poorbridge proclivities on a short leash...

On the first of our three boards against Avon, late on Saturday night, partner made a thin 1NTXX (ah, the joys of Houdini!) and, even at point-a-board, this represented a pretty handy score. Alas, we were to throw it all back and more on the following deal:

N/S Vuln
Dealer N
HA J 7 3
DQ 8 5
CK 9 8 6 5
SA J 4
HK Q 9 2
DA 7 6
CJ 4 3
SQ 10 8 6 5
H10 5
DJ 10
CA Q 10 2
SK 9 7 3
H8 6 4
DK 9 4 3 2

I was South and partner, applying strict Rule of 19 theory (despite the vulnerability) decided his hand was worth a 2C opening (Precision). The subsequent auction speaks for itself, except that I will add a number of retrospective rationalisations of everyone else's bids as well as my own, as is my wont. Enjoy!


(1)Well, we've just conceded 780 and opponents have probably got a handy 9-card fit and the majority of the points, so I will try my luck in 2CX. Why tell partner about our spade fit, after all?
(2)Crikey, East has got a six card club suit and partner is going to get taken to the cleaners — what shall I do? Pass? An SOS redouble? Maybe partner will take it as "to play", aiming for another vulnerable game bonus. No, much safer to run to 2D...
(3)My take-out double of 2C includes a brilliant diamond suit of A76, so I'd better double 2D at the speed of light.
(4)Mmm, this all looks rather promising...
(5)As partner has loads of diamonds, I'll still keep quiet about these spades....
(6)Avon looks pretty confident. Am I in the best spot? Trouble is, a Precision 2C opening typically has fewer diamonds than one or both of the majors. Let's take a punt on finding a better fit elsewhere. Pard may well have a four-card heart suit, so let's try that one first.
(7)This is getting better and better!
(8)See (5), plus this double will have the added advantage of giving them game.
(9)Another speedy double — oh dear! But there is still time to complete my economical master-plan, and all at the two-level!
(10)What?!?! Partner can't possibly have all three suits or he would have made an SOS redouble, surely? So what the heck does he have? Some kind of devious (possible psychic?) master-plan to play in spades? What other possible explanation can there be? Better pass and let him get on with it.
(11)Everything comes to he who waits. Pass the cigars and the brandy. I pass (again).
(12)Partner's long hesitation over 2SX makes it pretty clear that we are in trouble now but the pause means I cannot possibly justify bidding again. 2SX it is...

Naturally, I smile sweetly as partner puts down his woeful dummy, as if to confirm that my cunning plan has worked a treat. Minus 1700 looks probable on the inevitable club lead and trump back from East. But West takes the first trump with the Jack and plays SA and another. I can win SK, cross to HA and ruff a club. A diamond can now be established and I have gone for a paltry 1100!

East/West had settled for a quiet part score at the other table, so the rest of my team were not quite as impressed as they should have been with my valiant efforts. I argued gamely that partner's final pass was the real poorbridge moment and he had any number of much better alternatives (SOS redouble, 2NT, 3D or 3H) available. The argument that clinched it for me (if no one else) was that if the idiot opposite really is psyching his way through the red suits to get to 2S and 2SX proves to be the winning spot, East/West will surely avail themselves of the police, claiming, quite reasonably, that you have fielded it. Thus the score would inevitably be adjusted to three bananas doubled minus seven. And why would I risk going several off undoubled but vulnerable in two of a red suit if 2S is a better spot? So Pass is a losing option whatever partner has got. No? Ah well, stuff you lot, then, I'm off home and you can play Sunday without me...

Footnote: they did indeed play Sunday without Mr Smith and consequently soared up to a vertiginous fifth place.