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Bridge & Humor 


 

HARD LUCK  by CHARLES GOREN
 

 

For many years tournament bridge players, at early morning gatherings, have revelled in the retelling by Harry Fishbein of the story  concerning the Unfortunate Responder. It seems this character had been dealt a hand of 7-6 distribution (both minors), and partner, of course, vigorously bid both the other suits. "At the level of seven," he bewailed,
"I had to take a preference between two voids, and I guessed the wrong one."

Another bit of master minding is recalled as I browse through some of my archives to find the following hand:

 

3 2
Q J 10 7 5
K 5
10 7 6 4
8 5
9 6 3
A 10 9 7 4
A J 5
6
8 2
Q J 8 3

K Q 9 8 3 2

A K Q J 10 9 7 4
A K 4
6 2

 

West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 7
Dbl End    

 

Between humor and pathos the boundary line is frequently undiscernible. There was a touch of both in the story that was told me in connection with the above hand. It was at a session where bridge players had assembled to tell of their most unlucky experiences at the card table.


(Have you noticed how many bridge players have a tendency to emphasize their hard luck?)

It is a distinct form of hypochondria. An ordinary hypochondriac is one who appears to enjoy bad health. A bridge hypochondriac is one who enjoys bad luck. They appear to take a great pride and to derive immense pleasure from the claim that they are "bad holders." It is strange how easy it is to forget good cards.

The narrator of this episode, a gentleman well in the grasp of Bacchus, submitted this as an example of unmitigated hard luck. His words: "I held the South hand and the bidding came to me after three passes, so of course I bid seven spades (!). This was doubled by my left-hand opponent. He led the ace of diamonds and then the ace of clubs. I was down one. If he had led the ace of clubs first I would have made it."

The humor, of course, lies in the complete confidence with which he contracted for a grand slam with three losers in his hand and the reference, in complete sincerity, to the incident as a case of hard luck.

The pathos of the situation is the fact that the declarer really was the victim of a bad break. If I were on lead, I would have produced the ace of clubs. Surely the declarer must have a void, and since I had only three clubs and five diamonds, there was a better chance that that ace would live. Against me, South would have made his seven spades, and I would have had a hard luck story to tell at the next meeting of the moaners club.