My Nightmare Bridge Hand

I started playing club bridge in 1973 and consider myself to be a competent player and a sensible, if somewhat conservative (at times), bidder. In all those years I have had my fair share of disasters at the bridge table, but few have compared with the one I am about to describe! I am hoping that by sharing my story other bridge players might like to ‘entertain us’ during these difficult times with, with a story or two of their own. So, what happened?

Two years ago, I was playing at a congress in Cumbria with a partner who lives near York. We have known each other a long time having had a regular partnership at a club in Hampshire in the 1990s and more recently playing together at congresses in Brighton, Harrogate, Scarborough and Peebles. On the hand in question I was seated North playing a vulnerable 3 level contract in the congress pairs against Catherine Draper, who has played for the England women’s team in the Lady Milne, and her male partner who I did not know. By the end of the hand, I hadn’t taken a single trick, not one! So, I wrote down -900 on my scorecard which is not a score you will come across very often.

So how did we reach such a ridiculous contract I hear you ask? Well, I opened the bidding with 3NT! That shows a long solid minor suit with no more than a Queen outside and is commonly known as ‘the gambling 3NT’. Catherine Draper passed in tempo and my partner after a short pause also passed. My right-hand opponent then went into the proverbial tank and thought and thought and thought. The longer he thought the more I knew what was coming! A Pass. Catherine led a Spade and dummy came down with not a single Ace – in fact it had very little in the way of high cards. I was in a completely hopeless position.

Of course, my partner should have bid 4C, which I would have left, given the chance as that was my suit. In reality, my right-hand opponent would have taken some action and the opposition would probably would have reached their cold 6D contract. So, my partner’s pass saved us from a shared bottom as one EW pair did bid 6D for 920. We got a second bottom instead. Well bid partner (not)!

Although I was annoyed with my partner at the time, I did see the funny side, eventually. Needless to say, I ‘dined out’ on that story for some time afterwards.

If you have an amusing bridge story, why not share it with us all!

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Hamish Robertson
7 months ago

Oh heck Damien – – embarrassing or what! Glad that you’ve been able to laugh at it and see it in context. I guess your opponents will have dined out on it too.

Julia Palmer
7 months ago

John Matheson and Iain Sime scored +900 in a trial that I was directing a couple of years ago when their opp was in 3 of a minor -9. Similar situation they could have made a slam that was practically impossible to bid for +920.

I have a feeling declarer played in a splinter, but I wasn’t at the table forget the resume I was told. I bet Iain could dig out a bit more info from his memory banks if set the challenge!

Pamela Warner
Pamela Warner
7 months ago

Really enjoying the bridge tips Damien, although I am a bit behind with reading them. I have had ‘gambling 3 NT’ done to me before, at Melville, and felt robbed by being prevented from bidding on my hand with opening points. At the end of the board the perpetrator explained the concept briefly and I was intrigued- so daring. Recently I was playing social bridge and had a hand with 7 card solid minor and a few high cards outside. I did not expect it would be easy by bidding and responding to check 3NT was safe, given lack of… Read more »

Alan Goodman
Editor
7 months ago
Reply to  Pamela Warner

Delighted to hear you are enjoying the tips Pam. I understand your dilemma with the gambling 3NT so I’ll cover this in a future tip, both the hand type that should consider the bid and what partner should do in response.
Of course it will depend on both you and partner being on the same wavelength!