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 to partner her in 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, listing 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 more than that,” warned Babs, “like a truckload of paramedics.”

Board 1
None Vul
S J 10 9
H A K 4 3
D 9 6 3
C A K 6
Wacko1
West

Rdbl
Pass
Duke
North
1 NT
Pass
4 H
Wacko2
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
4 H South
S 5 3
H Q J 10 9
D A K 10
C Q 4 3 2

Duke passed and East ran to 2 S. Babs started to think (she’ll try anything once) and remembered what Duke said about bidding stoppers. “Three hearts!” she said triumphantly, expecting Duke to bid 3 NT with spades stopped; but Duke raised to 4 H, and Babs had to play it!

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

“Say what?” Babs retorted, “You tarts play dirty, too?”

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

4 H South 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
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
Won
E
N
E
S
S
S
N
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

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 bimbos after this hand.”

Babs won the D A and drew three rounds of trumps ending in dummy to reach the ending shown. Babs next called for the S J, East covered, and she ruffed with the H 10 or so she thought! With all the excitement, Babs accidentally pulled out the diamond 10. Immediately, she tried to correct it.

H win 5 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
North leadsS
H 10
D K 10
C Q 4 3

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

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

“No, you flake, it’s the Director in Charge. We need a ruling.”

Moments later the DIC arrives, and they explain what happened. He opens his rulebook and reads aloud Law 45C, defining a “played card” by declarer as being “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 exact definition. Wait one moment while I check with the Head Director in Charge.”

A few minutes later the HDIC arrives and offers his condolences, “I’m sorry, Babs, but guidelines in the Director’s Manual 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 acknowledges in a sugar-coated voice.

“Yes, thank you,” West echoes. “You really know your stuff.”

“Of course!” Babs grumbles, irritated by the whole encounter. “What other ruling should we expect from a DIC Head.”

Denouement

East was awarded the disputed trick with the S A and returned a diamond to the king. Babs then led her last trump to dummy’s ace, and West was squeezed! If she pitched her last diamond, dummy’s nine would be good; so she let go a club, and Babs won the last three tricks in clubs.

H win 5 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
East leadsS
H 10
D K
C Q 4 3

Epilogue

It soon became apparent that Babs had found the only way to succeed. If she had ruffed the spade as intended, she would have to fail; but the accidental discard left the defense without recourse. Because of this fateful result, Duke and Babs won the event!

Two weeks later Duke Dropem wrote up the deal in his Sunday bridge 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 today we all know it by its acronym BAREASS. TopMain

© 2000 Richard Pavlicek