Before You Were Born

Ten years ago, my family took a vacation in Boston. One of the restaurants that we visited was Durgin-Park, and their tagline says “Established Before You Were Born.” It must have been established prior to 1900, in that case.

Well, both yesterday and today, “before you were born” might apply to my personal situations… on either end of the spectrum.

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Once in N years

When I have kibitzed Howard Schutzman’s (Hondo717) bridge sessions on Bridge Base, he sometimes tells us of the hands which are likely to come up “once every five years.”

Well, I have a question for my readers who play bridge. A bidding quiz, if you will. And it came from my dealing-and-bidding simulator that I am working on alongside my summer SURE student.

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Off the rails

On Wednesday, I played in a bridge game, and the auction went really wonky. Here are the hands all arranged in the order Spades/Hearts/Diamonds/Clubs:

NORTH: Q983 / Q92 / J / A9873

EAST: JT765 / T83 / 98742 / VOID

SOUTH: K / KJ7654 / T / KQJ54

WEST: A42 / A / AKQ653 / T62


The auction proceeded as follows:

West (Partner) North East (Me) South
1NT (1) Pass 2H (2) Double (3)
3S Pass Pass 4C (4)
4D 4H (5) Pass (6) 5C
Pass 5H Pass Pass
Double Pass Pass Pass

Explanatory notes:

(1) Our agreement had this as 14-17 points and a BALANCED hand. The latter was not satisfied by this bid. (Maybe partner had a diamond in with the heart?)

(2) Transfer to spades. (Partner, please bid spades.)

(3) I’ve got hearts. Partner, lead them if you can.

(4) Seems to be a very aggressive action.

(5) A “raise” of hearts, since a game contract is higher reward and going down isn’t likely to be a disaster in this auction.

(6) Long pause, because partner’s auction completely befuddled me.

The director was called for both the action at (5), as well as on opening lead, when my partner led out of turn. The final result:their 5Hx was down three.

According to the hand record, 4S and 6D can be made our way, but starting the auction with 1NT created a train wreck on all sides.

Still, looking at both hands, I would not want to be in slam. The only reason it makes is because you have one spade loser (the SQ) when diamonds are trumps.

This is a good  example of why you shouldn’t use double-dummy analysis to determine whether you belonged in slam or what contract you belonged in. You can’t “results” it, especially when wild distribution causes the auction to run off the rails.

It works in reverse too… a reasonable auction is doomed to fail. The first hand that I played on Wednesday was the following:

NORTH: KT954 / KQT2 / 5 / QT5

EAST: Q862 / A5 / AQ6 / J987

SOUTH: 73 / J87 / KJT832 / 32

WEST: AJ / 9643 / 974 / AK64

The auction (if I recall it correctly):

North East (Me) South West (Partner)
Pass 1C 2D Double
Pass 2S Pass 3NT
Pass Pass Pass

Yeah. 3NT is hopeless. No long suit to set up and all finesses are wrong.

Hey, that’s what makes bridge both fun and infuriating 🙂


Carthage Teaching: 5 days

NU vs NU: 22 days

High Holidays: 31 days

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