Time is Money

Anyone who has ever played bridge with (or even against me) knows I like to grumble. When it comes to rubber bridge, I have special reason to complain — I'm a truly bad card holder. I play at the Regency Whist Club in NY as a host at games ranging from to 10¢. I also make up the numbers in the big game but not for my own money.

On the first deal of the 10¢ game, I have no reason to complain. I hold  S:AK62 H:QJ3 D:A73 C:AK10, and partner opens 1D:!

The bidding continues:

1D: 1S:
2C: 2H:
3H: 6NT

RHO leads the S:10 out of turn. This can't be bad. I have five choices.

  1. forbid a spade lead
  2. require a spade lead
  3. make the S:10 a penalty card and let LHO lead what he likes
  4. allow the play to continue and put dummy down
  5. let partner put the dummy down and continue play
Partner is a competent player, but I opt to forbid a spade lead. Despite Goldwater's Rule (a player who doesn't know whose lead it is probably isn't making a good one), any lead other than a spade looks good for me.

Grumbling, LHO leads a club, and I make 12 tricks easily.

The whole hand is

S: J
H: AK107
D: QJ94
C: J654
S: Q7
H: 854
D: 1062
C: Q9832
S: 1098543
H: 962
D: K85
C: 7
S: AK62
H: QJ3
D: A73
C: AK10
LHO starts shouting at RHO for leading out of turn. I ask whether he was going to lead a spade without the infraction. "No," he said, so I ask him what he is complaining about. Now RHO starts yelling about the club lead, "if you lead a heart you set it!" I throw some oil on troubled fires by suggesting that a diamond might have been the more normal lead since I sounded short there...now a good guess sees me home at T1.

"What do you play from dummy at trick one on the D:2 lead?" "The 9 looks right to me I think, but who knows?" "You'll play the D:Q and I'll duck," he riposted. "Now you have no chance." It takes me a little while to work out the come-back.

Remarkably I can recover after playing the D:Q, ducked, without doing anything absurd but by producing a fascinating ending. The normal line is to win the D:Q, cash the C:A, lead the H:Q to the king, and play a club planning to finesse. When RHO shows out, I win the C:K, run the hearts (pitching a spade from hand), and cash the high spades, leaving this position:

D: J9
C: J6
D: 106
C: Q9
S: 109
D: K5
S: 6
D: A7
C: 10
I lead the C:10 from hand and the complainer is pickled. If he wins, he either exits with a diamond giving me two diamond tricks and an entry to the C:J, or he exits with a club, bringing my C:J to life and squeezing his partner at the same time! If he ducks the C:10, I have a choice of pretty plays. I can overtake with the C:J and exit with a club, which performs both the squeeze and the endplay; I have a choice how to win the last trick! Or I can stay in hand with the C:10 and endplay RHO with a spade; he has been strip-squeezed on the C:10!

I very carefully point out all the gory details to my opponents, of course. LHO shouts back, "time is money! Deal the next hand!"

Copyright © 2006 Barry Rigal