The Student Bridge festival required a winner of the coveted poor bridge award, which I was to adjudicate, being the most sarcastic member of the Durham UBC. The usual poor bridge rules were in place: Only (apparently) competent players who should know better need apply. So when the two teams that eventually came first and second in the swiss teams played head to head in an exquisite display of poor bridge, there was only ever going to be one winner of the prize. And this hand had all our requirements:
Poor Auction, Poor Defence, Poor Declarer play, Poor Bridge!
Playing at that fated table were Toby (North, Cambridge), Paul (South, Cambridge), and Mike (West, Durham officially). Sonia was sitting East, but to be fair to her, she had nothing much to do with the poor bridge.
The hands were:
|K Q 7 5|
|10 9 7 2|
|K J 9 3|
|J 9||10 8 4 2|
|J 6||Q 5 4|
|Q 10 6 2||7 5 4|
|K 10 9 6 3||J 4 2|
|A 6 3|
|A K 8 3|
|A Q 8 7|
|PASS||3 (i)||PASS||3 (ii)|
|PASS||4NT (iii)||PASS||5NT (iv)|
|PASS||6 (v)||PASS||6NT (vi)|
The auction was going really well until North had to respond to South's 2NT opening. Not such an unusual auction one might have thought! Anyway, this is what it all meant:
(i) 3: intended as 5-card Puppet Stayman.
(ii) 3: the response to regular 4-card Stayman.
(iii) 4NT: RKCB. [I guess that's agreeing spades but....]
(iv) 5NT: All five key cards.
(v) 6: What about the trump Queen?
(iv) 6NT: I don't know what's happening!
To be fair on North/South, they gave up pretending they had any idea what was going on by the time the 5NT bid was made, so the 6 and 6NT bids could have almost any meaning.
But what of the contract itself? - could this be a contender for jammy Grand slam of the year? Well, if you inspect the cards you'll notice the trump loser. That's usually the signal for the grand slam to go off. Is there any way to make?
He leads the Jack of Hearts.
Some feeble excuse about South having showed A K Q to five hearts in the bidding was given. Not that anyone else at the table believed the auction. So the only lead that allows the contract to come home is made.
OK not straight forward, but these folks won the event, so surely they were playing some high quality bridge! [Author's note: if you think that was the case then you obviously don't know all that much about student bridge].
Actually what happened was less good. After winning the lead and taking the trump finesse, South took the diamond finesse and then....the club finesse!
So Mike's blushes are spared and the contract fails on a sub-optimal declarer line. And so the trio "win" the poor bridge award - a bottle of raspberry wine - for a hand that had it all.
So congratulations, of sorts.