Back of the Pack Part 2
Perspective is a curious thing. Partner, for example, clearly regards himself as intelligent, creative, well-informed and dynamic. Something not unlike this, in fact:
Whereas to me he is equally clearly dull, pedantic, ill-taught and lack-lustre; to whit:
But perhaps the most alarming feature of Partner’s play is not his evident lack of flair, as captured above, but his inability to apply the simplest rules with consistency.
Take last night, for example, when opened 1 Diamond with a maximum 19 points and a six-card Diamond suit to the AK. Partner passed and, on laying down his hand as dummy with its 11 points and three diamonds, said he’d not bid because he felt his hand was “a bit flat”. Thereby missing a slam and scoring one of our distressingly regular bottoms.
I consulted the Club Psychotherapist about Partner’s problem with this sort of thing recently (her of the pronounced Austrian accent and compulsive twitch) rather expecting her to suggest an unresolved relationship with his mother or a mis-directed sex drive. But in fact her professional diagnosis was “No, he’s just useless,” so we are no further forwards.
Returning to the missed 6 Diamonds, my position last night was evidently hopeless. Unless Mrs Overbid on table 7 had one of her turns again, and went down in 7NT, 0% was inevitable. So my choices were:
- claim the lay down slam in Diamonds, fix Partner with a Hard Look, and hope that the shock had a therapeutic effect on the synaptic connections in his grey matter, or
- throw a couple of tricks, make only 4 Diamonds, commend him on his astuteness, and thereby bolster his self-confidence in the interests of the Greater Good.
A very close call indeed. Suggestions by email to the Club Manager, please.
Another rule with which Partner struggles is that of “third hand high”. Now, I am not speaking here of such advanced stuff as the “lowest equivalent card” or “keeping a high card to beat dummy”, but rather a total inability to do the right thing.
For example, when I led the 4 of Clubs last night from KJ9x against 3NT, and Declarer won with the Queen, there were a number of possibilities:
- Partner did not have the Ace
- Partner had the Ace, but it was hidden behind the 8 and he hadn’t spotted it yet
- Partner was keeping the Ace to regain the lead once his “long suit” (in this case five spades to the Jack) had been established
- Partner had decided that it was a good plan to “keep Declarer guessing”
- none of the above.
Which of these pertained in this case (the third, in fact) only became clear once Declarer had pounced thankfully upon the opening and had run off all seven of his long suit in dummy to go +2.
And so, last night as on so many nights, the evening slid onwards towards its inevitable conclusion, once again bright hopes evaporating as dew in a Saharan dawn. Once again it was a case of shuffling furtively towards the results screen, hoping against hope that the Fates would allow our actual names would be up in lights. Once again the inevitable disappointment.
Never mind, said Partner, the eternal optimist. He’d heard about this new convention (multi-twos or Landy or some such) that would surely make all the difference. I have my doubts, but perhaps that will inform the topic of my next dispatch from the bottom of the pile...
How long have you been playing bridge?
I started playing in my teens but then a very long break until I took it up again about 4 years ago.
Why did you start? where did you learn to play?
I was taught by the father of a friend and I played at school and university
What do you enjoy most about the game?
I like cards and games of skill and I am quite competitive so bridge fits the bill.
What do you / did you do professionally?
I’m a criminal and mental health lawyer and I was a judge now partly retired.
What were the hardest type of cases to judge? Were any high profile? Did any get reported on in the press?
The hardest cases are those involving young people. I was at the very bottom of the judicial ladder so not many high profile cases. I was involved in a case arising out of the death of Victoria Climbie ( a young girl who died as a result of abuse) which was heavily reported on. As a lawyer I had some high profile clients who were detained in Broadmoor (Ron Kray was one)
Do you / did you ever regret any decisions you made in court?
What is the harshest sentence you gave?
Do you have any other activities or hobbies?
I am a keen golfer and heavily involved in horse racing
Have any of your horses achieved success?
Yes in a low key way
Would you say you’re a gambling man? Did you often bet on the races prior to joining the syndicate?
Yes I am a gambler but I keep it well under control. Generally I only have a bet when I go to the track.
What book / film / play / TV series would you recommend to members and why?
My favourite playwright is Arthur Miller because of his dramatic intensity and understanding of the human condition. The Crucible and Death of a Salesman are great plays.
Do you have any role models or heroes you want to meet? If so, why?
It would be interesting to meet Barack Obama although I would not describe him as a role model or hero and the same would apply to my favourite jazz musicians such as Gary Burton.