This is a true story.
Rubber bridge is a different game, the cast of characters is a lot more diverse, the bidding is truly agricultural compared to the standard at your local duplicate club, the card play is better. Coffee housing, the provenance of the term refers to the standard of ethics of whist played in London coffee houses in the 18th century, can be appalling.
I will give you the vantage point of my partner’s hand, held by the infamous Scottish international, Willie Whittaker, more about him next week, needless to say, an infinitely more talented player than myself;
I opened 1♣, the player on your right, Kamel, a property developer from Los Angeles, hesitated for an age, he must be holding length in the heart suit Willie concluded, and he may have a super fit with his partner with a potentially profitable sacrifice. He opted to respond 1♠. The player on his left, Conrad, a Jewish emigre from 1930s Austria, now tanked for close to a minute and passed. I raised partner to 4♠, Kamel fell into a deep meditation and again reluctantly passed. Willie jumped to 6♠, and Conrad proceeded to reflect on his holding for an aeon then passed. I passed, and now Kamel was spurned into action, his call was not 7♥, oh no, he firmly bid 7♦. I promise you, dear reader, not for one second did Willie consider bidding 7♠, he doubled in the same sombre tone as he had done throughout the auction. He proceeded to pull trumps and the contract went 13 down doubled.
Conrad looked at his partner with what can only be described as a thermonuclear rage, which left him catatonic, so Kamel beat him to the punch. He inquired, ‘why were you thinking for so long’, he answered, ‘I was wondering how I would respond with my hand if partner had opened 2♣’. I did the only responsible thing a man can do in such a situation, I phoned my travel agent and booked a holiday.
The answer to last week’s problem won by our dear secretary, Joan Taylor, is a simple elimination play:
Draw trumps, play two rounds of clubs and three rounds of spades allowing the left-hand opponent to win with the Q♠, the position is now
The left-hand opponent now has to lead a diamond giving you three tricks in the suit, or a ruff and discard. Contract made.