You are probably too young to remember Sybil Fawlty. In fact I am too young to remember Sybil Fawlty, so all you poorbridge readers will struggle. But of late I have realised that she and I have much in common, starting with a marked tendency to grumpiness. I am saying nothing on the subject of husbands, you understand. Anyhow this is the tale of my poorbridge week.
Hungover in Hinckley
It all started in Hinckley, where my partner and I spent the weekend not winning the ladies pairs. On Sunday, we are sitting East-West, so we are a moving pair. We arrive at a table. South puts a board on the table. We all take our hands out. I have a stonkingly bad headache and the light is starting to be painful. Hinckley is a fabulous venue but I notice that the carpets are very loud. My partner mutters something about my having had too much to drink last night. My own feeling is that the headache has stemmed from not having anything alcoholic for the entire day. It's all a question of perspective.
We bid the hands fairly laboriously and slowly. My partner is the third slowest player in the country and on a good day I can give her a run for her money. Maybe 'run' is not the right word. It's funny but slow players really never notice time passing. Vide my partner. The last time we played in an international event was an invitational event in China. We were being ridiculously slow, but she was convinced the fact we were four boards behind was due to the opposition so she called for a time monitor. Ho hum. At least the opposition were relieved.
I digress. Back to sunny Hinckley. If I am aware that the pace is slow, the director must be about to call the move before we have even played a card. LHO finally contracts to make 4. I look at the board and wonder vaguely why, when playing two-board rounds, we should have started the round with board six. We've started every other round with an odd numbered board. I wonder whether to mention it. Then I realise that we are playing the board from the previous round. In fact the ladies sitting N/S have just bid the board they played on the previous round. What's more, they are looking at the hands they just had and they do not even realise that they have just bid and played that same board. How is this possible?
The carpets are not only loud but angry as well. My headache just gets worse.
Ignorance is bliss
Last night someone desperate called. I know they were desperate because they called me. Someone's wife had a lump in her leg, which meant hospital, which meant husband by bedside, which meant one team-member short for a league match, which meant phoning through a little black book until they got to me. Mostly I am useless in these situations, partly because I travel all over the place and cannot guarantee to get to Bradford Bridge Club by 19.00 hours, and partly because even if I can get there, I don't feel like being there.
But for once I happened to be in Yorkshire and I am a sucker for a sob-story, so I turn out at the bridge club by 19.00 hours. Guess what? Despite having a nice G&T pressed into my hot little hands, I don't feel like being at Bradford Bridge Club. I just don't like the bridge. The atmosphere is all chatty and friendly. How can people chat when they are thinking? I am good at multitasking. It's one of the few things I am good at, but even I can't chat and think simultaneously. Then I realise that they have dispensed with thinking, and just do the chatting. So I do the same and start letting games through, as follows:
South clearly wasn't troubled by the fact that her partner might have the Ace and King of spades and a couple of hearts. Getting the bidding over with quickly leaves me on lead against 4. With customary aplomb, I select the K which goes straight into the jaws of stiff Ace. Declarer plays three rounds of hearts from hand, creating a trump loser. This play does not work but it is not a bad play because the game is solid if trumps are 3-2.
Observing that trumps are 4-1, declarer played the Q. I cover, and declarer wins the Ace and plays a club throwing a spade from hand. I ruff in. The trouble is that I am not concentrating. I know I should switch to a small spade but I am troubled by the tempo, which is too fast for me, and preoccupied with the conversation which seemed to be about a member having given up bridge and now going to Bingley Gardener's Club. So I switch to A and let the game through.
Unfortunately the bit of me that is like Sybil Fawlty gets irritated by incompetence. I keep thinking about teammates and other such irrelevancies. Perhaps I should join Bingley Gardener's Club.
The next irritating thing to happen is that RHO, who is declarer in 3, claims. Sort of. By this I mean that she tables her hand and says just made. We all look at her hand, and I realise that the contract is on a finesse. Eventually she realises it too, and picks her hand up again, amid much dithering. Her partner explains to her that she can't really pick up her hand having tabled it (he is right about this) but in any event she was obviously going to take the finesse so everything is just tickety-boo. He is entirely wrong about this. I think that the lady on my right is capable of taking finesses. I have seen her do it before. I believe that left to her own devices, she might well have counted her tricks and realised that she needed to finesse. But equally, she might not have done. I am handicapped in this situation because I do know what the rules say, and I do know how this should be ruled. The director should rule that she is one down. I open my mouth to call the director then close it again. The best thing to do in this situation is to go and get another G&T. By the bottom of that, I will have convinced myself that turning into a rancorous coiffeured old sow was my destination of choice.