Yesterday when I walked into the bridge club, almost immediately my teacher stopped what he was saying to his class to tell me that he had installed a couch in the back in case I needed to lie down and talk. Clearly, he had checked the scores from the day before. I said I’d have to book him for at least three hours. He offered to bring the Mad Scientist in for a joint session, but I figured TMS would probably need three hours of his own just to vent about me. Suffices to say, I played the first seven boards and managed to get us a zero on four of them. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get The Rainbow Connection out of my head, “Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name.” Of course, in at least one case, the voices I was hearing were those of the opponents trashing me as soon as I walked away from the table (people seem to forget that not everyone in a bridge club is losing their hearing); and, let’s face it, it wasn’t as if I’d just given them a bad board.
During that last session we had a somewhat complicated auction utilizing the Mad Scientist’s system (it comes up so rarely that it was notable just for that reason alone) which enabled me to thoroughly describe my hand so that when TMS eventually put us in 3NT, he was not guessing that it was the right spot (he may have been wondering if I knew what the hell I was doing, but that’s another story). Of course, everyone else got to 3NT too, no doubt by way of a much simpler auction. On the bright side, had 6♦ or 4♠ been the right contract our maddening methods would have gotten us there, while everyone else would have been in … 3NT. I don’t know if the opponents were at all impressed when my dummy was precisely what TMS had said it would be when explaining the alerts (and it was pretty damn specific), but I was impressed that the system worked so well. Still it was a struggle just to get to an average result; it was that kind of a day.
Yesterday the results were better, but it was still a struggle. In this case, I was mostly wrestling with a system I know, but that I don’t really get. We’re playing a weak NT and whenever one opens 1♣ or 1♦ it is either a strong NT (15-17 HCP) or an unbalanced hand that is likely to be weak. That’s all fine. The part that throws me is the rebid by opener when there is competition. With no fit and no interference, rebidding 1NT with the big hand and 2♣/♦ with the weak, shapely hand makes perfect sense. But here’s a hand from yesterday:
It seems pretty clear to me that this hand should be opened (especially at favorable vulnerability) and that it is better opened 1♣ than 1NT. So the auction went:
Partner had made it very clear that any bid including raising hearts or passing at this juncture would show the 15-17 NT type hand so my only option was to bid 2♣ which goes against every instinct I have. Not surprisingly the bidding continued:
2♣- All Pass
And, of course, I end up playing in the 5-1 club fit instead of the 4-4 heart fit. Regardless of the fact that 2♣ made giving us a top (other pairs were in 3♥ off one), and partner confirmed after the fact that my bid was systemically correct, 2♣ just isn’t where I want to play that hand.
On an unrelated note, when I first came across a reference to 5-suited bridge I was immediately intrigued. The possibilities for the extra bidding room are particularly interesting to me. Recently on eBay I won an auction for a “Royal” suit that was produced to be added to a regular deck of cards specifically for the purpose of playing five-suited bridge:
I think these are pretty neat. Of course now I want to track down a deck of cards produced by that company with the same back as these, even though I’m not likely to ever play with them, in part because doing so will help me narrow down just when these might have been produced. The work of a collector is never done.
Speaking of bridge oddities, for the bridge hostess who has everything:
I know what you’re thinking, “Are those 80 year old sugar cubes shaped like playing card symbols?” Yes, yes they are.