Source: Bridge Winners

Daniel Miles
Daniel Miles, 2012, 2015, 2017 Canadian National Team Championship winner.

Note: “The Session From Hell” was originally written by Colin Ward. It is being reprinted on Bridge Winners with the author’s permission. Hands rotated to make South declarer. It is a fictional tale, and you will see some irregularities that might present problems in a real bridge tournament (such as an alert “waking you up”, discussion of hands already played with opponents prior to the session ending, etc). Please remember the goal of the articles is humor, rather than whether a procedural penalty should occur.

This is a fictionalized account of a bridge session played with a most unusual partner. After a pre-game strategy session filled with new conventions and ideas, your eyes glaze over and your mind swirls. You are in fine shape for the first hand!

  • Event: Regional
  • Scoring: Matchpoints
  • Board: 1
  • Vulnerability: None
  • Dealer: RHO
  • Partner: Lunatic

In a regional matchpoint event, you hold:

 The good news is that, by reputation, two of the three others at the table are “solid citizens”. The bad news is that the “full-mooner” at the table is your partner and that you have 26 more boards with him after this one. (I point this out in order to reproduce the conditions at the table accurately–not to serve as a clue to the proper course of action here.) Outnumbered, you have acquiesced to playing with this maniac because you, an inveterate backgammon player, are wedded to the theory that 3-to-1 constitutes acceptable odds.

You are on lead after this “standard” 2game-forcing auction:

 Yes, 4NT was Key Card Blackwood. You ask LHO what the 6 reply meant and *both* opponents shrug. No sense asking about 7.

You doubled 7to prevent partner from bidding 8.

So whaddaya lead?

At the table the A was led and covered by declarer’s whole hand. “Ruffing and drawing trumps, starting with the Ace,” he claims before leaning over and peeking at your partner’s hand.

Declarer slaps your partner on the back, chuckles and raves: “Nice club bid!”

“Which one?” Partner replies flatly. “My first one or my second one?”

Dummy wonders aloud why your partner wouldn’t just splinter with 4over the 2bid. Declarer points out that he wouldn’t have gone to 7if that had been the case. You try to blot out all of this. As the thought of 26 more boards with this lunatic filters into your brain the room starts spinning and fades into black…

  • Event: Regional
  • Scoring: Matchpoints
  • Board: 2
  • Vulnerability: Them
  • Dealer: You
  • Partner: Lunatic

Having already dropped one board to the field, you pick up:

Some variation on the following auction occurs at virtually every other table in the event:

2was NOT 2-over-1 game-forcing, so you might expect hands such as the following from partner:

Only the last hand type (where responder’s 2reply is “real” and not merely preparatory to an invitational raise) gives you a great chance for game.

So, had this auction come up at your table, what would you have bid?

Well, at every other table your hand passed 3. But you didn’t have the benefit of the above auction at yours. No. Opposite your 1opening partner gets a crazed gleam in his eye and bids 2NT, bouncing in his seat as he does so. You alert, hoping that no one would ask.

“Yes?” RHO intones. “What does 2NT mean?”

Before the session from hell started, your ersatz erstwhile partner smiled at your suggestion that you play a Jacoby 2NT reply here. Instead, the two of you would be playing something called…what was it again?…oh, right…”GIRLS”. You rack your brain, trying to cipher out what that silly acronym stood for. GIRLS. GIRLS. Oh, yeah: “Game-try IResponder’s Long Suit”.

“Uh, my partner has a long suit headed by 2 of the top 3 honours in support of my spades,” you bluff authoritatively, hoping RHO won’t ask.

“Which long suit?”

“Umm,” you stammer, “I don’t know.”

Seeing everyone’s dissatisfaction with this answer, you quickly add: “Yet! I don’t know what long suit he has yet.”

RHO sports the same indulgent grin that partner showed when you suggested playing Jacoby 2NT. You ignore this and focus on trying to figure out what suit partner has. You remember him blithering something about “maxi-flex” (i.e. when in doubt, bid the cheapest step). You trot out a 3 bid. Hallelujah! Partner alerts! At his turn, he bids 3. 3? Hmm, 3would’ve probably shown Diamonds; 3, Hearts. So 3 must show Clubs!

You count ten black tricks and proceed to 4. Sure enough, partner tables the Type C hand:And you chalk up +450. Top board. Back in the hunt!

  • Event: Regional
  • Scoring: Matchpoints
  • Board: 3
  • Vulnerability: Both
  • Dealer: North
  • Partner: Lunatic

Having struggled back to average in this regional matchpoint event, your space-cadet partner now has a chance to go ahead of the field with this hand:With both sides vulnerable, the auction proceeds:

North opened a weak 1NT. You are playing “bid what you’ve got” against it. Your 2NT call showed the minors.

What should partner lead?

Without so much as a nanosecond’s thought, your partner bangs down the 3. The complete hand was:

Two quick club tricks and a club ruff gets your side off to a great start. Partner exits with a diamond and collects a heart trick later. 4 -1. Average-plus. Ever gracious, you compliment your partner on his lead. So far, so good. But then you make the mistake of asking him how he managed to find it.

Partner stares back quizzically.

“It was obvious,” he states flatly. “LOTUS”.

“LOTUS?” you counter, despite your better judgement.

“Yes,” he continues indulgently. “If you held:

“…you would probably overcall 2 rather than the Unusual 2NT, wouldn’t you?”

“Well, yes, I probably would, but–”

“Exactly,” the wildman continues. “So if either of your 2 suits is much stronger than the other it is more likely to be the LOWER ranked suit whenever you make a 2-suited overcall. Right?”

“So LOTUS stands for…” you wonder aloud.

Lower OTwo Usually Stronger.”

Seeing you reach for a pencil, partner tells you that you don’t have to write “LOTUS” on your convention card. You weren’t going to. Rather, you were trying to pass a message to the opponents:

“As soon as we leave the table, yell ‘FIRE!'”

(To be continued…)