Poor Bridge of the Week
Gamblers Anonymous
By Phil Smith

At times I feel a bit like a priest hearing confessions. You see, I hear stories about offences to bridge: sins against our game, if you like. And it's the same sort of thing over and over again:

  • Inability to lead
  • Misunderstandings leading to comedy scores
  • Ludicrous defensive blunders
  • Zero percent declarer lines
  • System abuse
  • Using Gerber
  • All-round silliness
  • Unlike a priest, however, I don't have to keep these transgressions to myself but rather am at liberty to publish these things on the internet for all to snigger at. Which is just as well, really, or we wouldn't have much to go on here at poorbridge.com. Anyway, this week's scoopful of comedy falls into the category of 'system abuse' with some added 'all round silliness' thrown in for good measure.

    A conversation at a bar

    As so often happens I was given a hand and asked, mischievously, what I would bid were I to be holding it. Doing the asking on this occasion was the ever adventurous Adam Dickinson. Let us repeat the exercise now: what would you bid, as dealer, non-vulnerable, holding this:

    DA 8 6 4 2
    CK 9 7 5 3 2

    My response ran something like: "Well, gee, I dunno really. 1C? Of course 1D is not without merit? Did you try 1NT Adam?"

    Well apparently Mr. Dickinson was sitting the other way so it was the opponents that came up with something. Try and guess what. There is a clue in the title. Yup, apparently this hand was worth a gambling 3NT opening (I bet you're kicking yourself for not working it out sooner)! Here is the rest of the auction, and it really does just get better:

    DA 8 6 4 2
    CK 9 7 5 3 2


    (1)Gambling, apparently
    (2)Intended as please lead a heart, but.
    (3)East is on lead! So this is a response to Double as values, bits in the majors.
    (4)Hmm, it's difficult to imagine what is going on in North's head.

    SJ 10 7 6 5
    H7 4
    DK J 7 5
    CQ 8
    SQ 9 8 4 3 2
    HA K 9 6 3
    DQ 9
    HQ J 10 8 2
    D10 3
    CA J 10 6 4

    So you have a stunningly poor auction. East bids forgetting he is on lead (and apparently having agreed to play something terminally stupid even if he wasn't on lead). When West bids spades, East's hand suddenly looks rather good, and although there might well be a couple of diamonds to lose, or the ace of trumps missing or something, that doesn't stop east having a go at 6S. In the meantime, North feels that his king to six clubs need to be bid at the five level and this fits rather well with South's hand. Presumably not wanting to defend 6S with about 12 clubs between the two hands, South opts to bid the grand in clubs.

    Obviously neither 6S nor 7C have any play at all, the former losing the spade and diamond aces, while the latter suffers from a heart and potential diamond loser. Due to the enormous fits that happen to be around the table the auction didn't generate the huge silly score that might have been, though North finds a way of going two off on a non-diamond lead (how? Dunno). However, thanks to one of the biggest pieces of system abuse ever — the 3NT opening — we get to see the hand as a PBotW.


    At the end of the hand, south added some interesting analysis that is worth noting here:

    "Oh, I expected you have a solid club suit for that bidding partner!"

    Indeed. But we were wondering just how solid could the suit have been, giving that south was holding the ace, jack and ten?