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The World’s Worst Bridge Player

This article was inspired by Bernie Chazen of Tamarac. No, he is not the title character; indeed, Chazen is one of the country’s finest players. He is a great storyteller and this happens to be his latest gem.

It seems there was a rubber bridge player in New York City years ago — I’ll call him “The Loser” — who was the biggest patsy of all time. He would play for the highest stakes and set new records for losses every day. On the hand prior to today’s deal, he was declarer in four hearts and claimed the rest of the tricks. Unfortunately, he forgot there was a trump out (the rules forbade drawing trumps after a claim) so an opponent scored a ruff to defeat an ice-cold contract.

7 S×× by South

Both Vul
S 9 8 3
H 9 7 2
D 7 6 2
C A Q 9 7
S 10 2
H Q 10 8 6 4
D 9 8
C J 8 6 5
TableS
H A K J 5 3
D J 10 5 4
C K 10 4 3
Lead: H 6S A K Q J 7 6 5 4
H
D A K Q 3
C 2

West

Dbl
All Pass
North

Pass
East

Pass
South
7 S
Rdbl

The Loser then picked up the South hand and, in typical fashion, opened with a brash bid of seven spades which West doubled on general principles. South took all doubles as personal affronts and routinely redoubled. (Everyone agreed that bidding was the best part of his game — it had to be!)

Amazingly, the dummy hit with the ace of clubs and seven spades was absolutely laydown. Redoubled, vulnerable, that is 2,890 points! In a state of frenzy, The Loser screamed, “I’m claiming! And this time I’m pulling trumps!”

To emphasize this he laid down the ace of spades, king of spades and queen of spades! Unfortunately, this last play took out dummy’s trump which was necessary to ruff the fourth diamond, and the laydown contract was now in jeopardy.

“Play it out!” the defenders demanded, so he cashed the top diamonds to find they didn’t break. Then he led all of his trumps to reach a two-card ending. Dummy remained with A-Q in clubs and East perforce blanked the club king to keep the diamond jack. The Loser led a club and remarked, “I suppose I’m not allowed to take a finesse after claiming.”

“Do anything you want,” East graciously replied.

“Thank you, queen!

Down two! Minus 1,000!

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© 1986 Richard Pavlicek