At the 2003 universities bridge festival in Cambridge, I experienced more than my fair share or poor bridge. Not content with playing a large role in the Poor Bridge of the Festival itself, the following day came two classic hands of poor bridge featuring myself and Mike Scanlon. (Although most of the poor bridge was due to me.) First was this:
x x x
Youíre in 4, have won 9 of the 10 tricks played so far, and are in hand. All the trumps have gone. What do you do?
You would probably cash the ace of diamonds, thus making the (entirely cold) contract. I, however, elected to play a heart, allowing the defence to take the last three tricks. (My feeble excuse is that I thought Mike still had a trump left, and was therefore going off anyway. As if miscounting the trump suit is any less poor.)
There was worse to come: (hands switched for clarity)
|K 7 6 2
Q T 8 5
A 7 3
|Q J 4
A 9 2
K T 9 8 7
6 5 4 2
K J T 9 6 4 2
|A T 9 8
K J 7 6 4 3
Mikeís double obviously has nothing to justify it, except that he had witnessed my declarer play on the previous hand. My redouble is equally poor if Mike has the expected AQxx of trumps, but what the hell, I thought, this is the bridge festival. As it is, the dummy is perfect for me, and I land in my second cold game in a row Ė this time redoubled. Letís see what happened:
Mike leads a club. I win the ace and lead a low trump to the king and ace. I win the return and draw two more rounds of trumps, ending in dummy. The trumps are now drawn, but obviously believing that Mike simply must have four for his double, and therefore that there are 14 hearts in the pack, I play another round. Not that this matters on this hand, but I now revoke by playing a spade from hand. Mikeís moment has come.
All he has to do is play any card and let me play to the next trick, thereby establishing the revoke. The contract then goes -2 for +1000 to E/W.
Instead, Mike reacts with an expression of great shock, and pauses. Result: - I realise what Iíve done, put the spade back and follow suit instead. No penalty, and 4xx comes rolling home. E/W -1080.
Agreeing the score was easy: Poor Bridge all round!