The Obvious Solution

(or The Auction That Wouldn't End)

"The Grape" (Alan Applebaum of Boston MA) goes sour on a psych.

Originally published in the May, 1990, issue of Bridge Today

Each of us recalls one special hand, a deal where we were unusually clever.
You may have played yours years ago, but you'll remember it forever.

Perhaps you made a daring bid, or dropped an offside king.
It's in your memory as "Best Bid", "Best Played", or maybe . . . "Most Embarrassing".

The latter is the reason that I remember mine.
It was dealt at the Summer Nationals, in Las Vegas in '79.

We were playing in the Master Pairs. It was the last round of the session.
My partner was "The Grape", a name earned by his sour expression.

We were rolling along at a few boards over, but I knew we couldn't stop.
We needed to end with two good scores to ensure our section top.

Our final opponents seated themselves, and much to my delight,
An 80-year-old lady was on my left, and her mother was on my right.

I made a bad lead on first board, and their partscore easily made. 
Then Board #26: 
Partner dealt and passed, and Mother bid "One Spade". 

I sorted my hand and saw the chance to get a good board back. 
Three little spades, two minor-suit stiffs, eight hearts to the Ace-King-Jack. 

To bid Four Hearts was obvious, but that seemed too mundane. 
I'd have to be much more clever to talk them out of their game. 

"One Notrump," I bid in tempo, repeating it twice for Mother. 
But then Daughter made the only bid from which I'd never recover. 

"Two Hearts," she bid on her twelve-count. Could she be psyching, too? 
Not this lady, I said to myself. Now what could I do? 

But partner, bless him, bid Three Hearts. His cuebid was my break! 
I could pass, and so would Daughter, thinking we'd made a "mistake". 

But Mother looked at her ten-count. She'd paid her entry fee. 
She came to play and so she bid "Three Spades" in front of me. 

My heart sank, I cautiously passed, and so did LHO. 
We're out of this fix, I thought to myself, but partner couldn't know. 

He bid Four Diamonds, I tried Four Hearts, but my message went  undetected. 
The Grape kept on bidding minors, which I quietly "corrected". 

Daughter kept passing, never giving a hint that she knew we were in trouble. 
But at Six Hearts, she'd heard enough, and finally whispered, "Double". 

I give up!!!" The Grape exclaimed, cards flying through the air. 
But the suffering wasn't over, for The Grape had to declare. 

"I can't imagine what you could have," he mumbled with a frown. 
"Unless it's THAT!" he said disgustedly, as I put the dummy down. 

"In case you haven't noticed," he snarled, "I'm not blessed with your insight. 
I'm a simple, trusting partner . . . who can NEVER read a psych!" 

My apologies were most profuse as I feebly tried to explain 
About trying to be imaginative and avoiding the mundane. 

We went down three for a zero, but he didn't utter another word 
Except for a threatening grumble when he saw our section third.

  Las Vegas NABC; August, 1979 

  Board #26 -- EW vulnerable 

  A                     QJ7643 
  Q8632                 Void  
  Q84                   AJ32 
  KJ62                  Q43 
  Grape   Mother   Me     Daughter
  Pass     1S     1NT(!)   2H
   3H      3S     Pass    Pass 
   4D     Pass     4H     Pass  
   6C     Pass     6H     Double
  !#*@!   All Pass 

  * * * * * * * * * *

I never thought he'd play with me, or even speak to me again.
But the very next day I saw him, at the session's end.

He waved at me and called my name, as he elbowed through the crowd.
And in one breath he blurted out, clear and sour and loud:
    "I just picked up eight solid hearts, playing against a good pair.
    I overcalled the `mundane' Four Hearts, and got a top -- SO THERE!"

And with that he stalked away, but the lesson stayed with me.
It's one that's improved not only my scores, but my partnership harmony.

For to this day, when about to succumb to a fit of cleverness,
I think of The Grape, and save myself, by going with the obvious.

Copyright 1990 -- Karen Walker