Main     Almost Bridge 7F68 by Richard Pavlicek    

The Acronymphomaniacs

The atmosphere was tense as the final session of the North American Pair Trials got under way. Duke Dropem and Babs D’Lady were in second place, only 7 points out of the lead. On the first round they were pitted against the leaders, a pair of wacky brunettes they had never seen before.

Duke was a bridge professional; and Babs, a wealthy socialite who paid him big bucks at tournaments. Even so, word by the grapevine is that Duke would play for free as long as Babs wore a low-cut blouse.

Babs became nervous when she saw the brunettes’ convention card, which listed over 100 conventions, all by acronyms. She recognized a few — JTB, FSF and NMF — but the rest were like Greek, so she hoped nothing would come up.

On the first board Duke opened 1 NT and East overcalled two hearts. “Alert!” interjected West, “That’s DONT.”

“Don’t what?” inquired Babs, “I haven’t even bid yet.”

“No, my partner’s bid is DONT, a convention to show the majors.”

“In that case, I don’t think she’s gonna make it,” Babs answered abruptly. “I double!”

Almost simultaneously, West redoubled. “Alert!” said East, “That’s SOS.”

“You’re gonna need a lot more than that,” warned Babs, “like a truckload of paramedics.”

Duke passed and East ran to spades. Babs began to think (she’ll try anything once) and remembered what Duke said about bidding stoppers. “Three hearts!” she bid triumphantly, expecting Duke to bid 3 NT with spades stopped; but Duke raised to 4 H. Babs had to play it!

Babs D'Lady
4 H S J 10 9
H A K 4 3
D 9 6 3
C A K 6
None Vul


West

Rdbl
Pass


Duke
North
1 NT
Pass
4 H



East
2 H
2 S
All Pass


Babs
South
Dbl
3 H
S 8 7 2
H 2
D Q J 5 4
C J 9 8 7 5
Table S A K Q 6 4
H 8 7 6 5
D 8 7 2
C 10
Lead: S 7 S 5 3
H Q J 10 9
D A K 10
C Q 4 3 2

West led the spade seven. “Alert!” clamored the brunette East, “That’s MUD.”

“Say what?” Babs replied, “You play dirty, too?”

“No, you airhead, it’s a convention. From three small we play middle-up-down.”

East won the S Q and shifted to her stiff club, which Babs won in dummy with the king. Babs gave up a second spade, and East returned the diamond seven.

“Alert!” said West, “That’s MUD, too.”

“Damn sure will be,” Babs muttered, “like both of you tarts after this hand.”

Duke Dropem
4 H S J 10 9
H A K 4 3
D 9 6 3
C A K 6
Trick
1. W
2. E
3. N
4. E
5. S
6. S
7. S
W 5 L 2
Lead
S 7
C 10
S 10
D 7
H Q
H J
H 9
2nd
9
2
K
A
2
C 7
D 4
3rd
Q
5
5
5
3
4
K
4th
3
K
8
3
5
6
7
S 8 7 2
H 2
D Q J 5 4
C J 9 8 7 5
Table S A K Q 6 4
H 8 7 6 5
D 8 7 2
C 10
S 5 3
H Q J 10 9
D A K 10
C Q 4 3 2

At Trick 4, Babs won the D A. She then drew three rounds of trumps ending in dummy to reach the ending at right. Babs called for the S J, East covered, and she ruffed with the H 10 — or so she thought! With all the excitement, Babs had pulled out the diamond 10 by mistake. She then quickly tried to correct it. North
leads
S J
H A
D 9 6
C A 6
S 2
H
D Q J
C J 9 8
Table S A 6 4
H 8
D 8 2
C
S
H 10
D K 10
C Q 4 3

“Not so fast!” interrupted West. “You can’t change your play after you show everyone the card. Let’s get the DIC.”

“What’s that?” asked Babs, “a dictionary?”

“No, you flake, we need the Director in Charge for a ruling.”

Moments later the DIC arrives, and they explain what happened. He opens his rulebook and reads aloud Law 45C, which defines a “played card” by declarer as “touching or nearly touching the table.”

“Yes, it was.” confirmed West.

“No, it wasn’t!” Babs refuted. “It was an inch away, which is not nearly touching.”

The DIC deliberated, “This is borderline, and I’m not sure of the precise definition. Wait one moment while I check with the Head Director in Charge.”

A few minutes later the HDIC arrived and offered his condolences, “I’m sorry, Babs, but the official guidelines consider one inch to be nearly touching, so I have to rule against you. The diamond 10 is a played card.”

“Thank you, sir” East sweetly offered.

“Yes, thank you,” West echoed.

“Sure!” grumbled Babs, “What other ruling should we expect from a DIC Head.”

So East was awarded the disputed trick with the S A. East returned a diamond to the king, and Babs led her last trump to dummy’s ace. Wow! West was squeezed. If she pitched her last diamond, dummy’s nine would be good; so she let go a club, and Babs had the rest in clubs. East
leads
S
H A
D 9 6
C A 6
S
H
D Q J
C J 9 8
Table S 6 4
H 8
D 8 2
C
S
H 10
D K
C Q 4 3

Epilogue

It soon became apparent that Babs had found the only way to succeed in the ending. If she had ruffed the spade, she would always fail; but the accidental diamond pitch left the defense without recourse. After this fateful encounter, Duke and Babs went on to win the event.

Several weeks later Duke Dropem wrote up the deal in his Sunday column and proposed a name for this unusual card-play technique. He dubbed it the “Babs Anti-Ruff Exit and Strip Squeeze,” but of course we all know it today by its acronym: BAREASS.

TopMain

© 2000 Richard Pavlicek