Al The Plumber


Ghostwritten by Casey Stengel with Assists by Yogi Berra

Doctored by Al, the Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy

[Note: Over the eons, there have been some PLAY problems that are unusual because all, or almost all, players and analysts consistently wind up endplaying themselves into the wrong hand — often that of an opponent.  Furthermore, that is true even with loads of time for analysis, help from computers, etc.!

I see that Stevie Beanie and his Faythful Sidekickback started something like this, maybe more so for bidding problems. Of course, for lots of those kinds of deals, each expert often just will tell you what a genius he is, regardless whether or not his pet bidding methods worked on the given hand. Down and down they go, round and round they go, where they’ll stop, nobody knows. OK, OK, maybe the absolute max they would stop at on only one deal is a “mere” 7600. 🙂

Anyway, these play problems DEMON-STRABLY have de-geniusized lots of “experts”! Let’s see if you can outsmart them. Please remember to try to be as precise as possible.


This is the long-winded preamble to the ramble contained in the hand autopsies in this series. If you already have read it, or you just can’t stand it, please preempt yourself out of this part whenever you want to, and proceed to any CASE #. Fortunately, you only have to duplicateboard, i.e., torture, yourself a max of one time with this introductory material, unless you are a bridge masochist. In that case, you might “enjoy” reading it for each part of the series. Anyway, this is the exciting background scoop for this rather unusual group of bridge lunacies.

Casey Stengel, alias the Old Perfessor, is best known for his remarkable record as the manager of the New York Yankees baseball team. In 12 years with them, he won 10 American League pennants, and 7 World Series, 5 of the latter consecutively!

Few people are aware that he was also an incredible bridge expert, and indeed, the world’s greatest manager of bridge hands! That’s bridge as in the card game, not as in the Brooklyn Bridge, which Casey also frequently conquered to play the Dodgers in a bunch of those World Series games. Moreover, he was well suited to finessing deeply as a spy because he previously had been a player and manager for Da Bums, as the Dodgers were “affectionately” known, even when they had strong teams.

I was excommunicated from most ACBL National Follies for eons due to all kinds of heresy, especially in the bidding. However, recently they let me start playing again. Apparently, they were desperate for more entry fees, dues, etc. Obviously, they weren’t fussy about whatever kinds of riffraff cross ruffians they contracted to cough up some dough.

Casey’s baseball records don’t particularly thrill me since I never have been a Yankee fan. However, when I decided to resume playing in the National League, I figured, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” So I subscribed to Casey’s channel at the Surely MyClaim Is Valid Psychic Institute. Of course, she is world renowned for bridge séances and flicks such as “Two for the Seesaw” (re bridge partners’ battles for bottom dog) and “Those Old Boards”. Oh, wait. That last one was really “Those Old Broads”, a famous movie about Florida bridge. It features the strip and endplay techniques of hookers, udderly lacking in finesse, who play at the female chauvinist cow Wednesday IMP game. In order to remain non-vulnerable to detection, it stealthily passes all around Palm Beach County. It was filmed during the same time that many of their insignificant others (mainly husbands and boyfriends who have suffered from innumerable Zero Tolerance violations at and during the hands of the old broads) were wheeled in from nursing homes and insane asylums to play in the Boca Raton IMP game.

An acting manager, the defensive Warren Beat-It, actually runs Surely’s joint. He also happens to be her brother, and the top star, producer, and Groner of other bridge epics. Perhaps the best known is “Reds”, a classic regarding the state of bridge in the former Soviet Bridge Union. The grand leaders only permit decks to have hearts and diamonds, so they can delude the masses about the blackness of their dictated contracts with the powerful. They wind up slamming them in the deal, and often into the slammer besides. Worse yet, many tens of millions of players have been subjected to killing leads.

Of course, similar multi-delusionalism also has been duplicated widely for players of multiple nations, regardless of whether or not they play Multi. Somehow, those professing to lead them to a bridge to a grand future are always psyching.

“Dick Tracy” is also one of his classics. In it, he carefully builds postmortem wrecreations of individual “bridge” deals that involved the rigor mortis participation of up to 4 DUMMIES who played at each table.

Another of his works is “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”. McCabe is chronically depressed about his partner’s leads after she opens a weak two. He devises an ingenious way to support Mrs. Miller while either telling her to lead her suit, or by bidding her to lead a different suit. In addition, he has a way to try to get the hand played in his own suit if that is his preference.

OK, so I surely will need to access the channels of the Sure Claimer and her brother from time to time. Now I’ll get back to Casey’s starring role in all of this show biz stuff. Sometimes, he also calls upon the talents of Yogi Berra, his partner, catcher of bids and baseballs, and 3-time American League Most Valuable Player. Clearly, Yogi is best known as the greatest philosopher and logician of all-time. As incredulous as it may appear to be, there is bored talk that on some occasions, such skills may be of value in bridge.

Sooo — as I practiced by reading through some old and new bridge books, magazines, and columns, I often would contact The Psychic Institute, and then ask Casey to comment on the play and anal-ysis. Many people think that Casey first used the quote “Can’t anybody here play this game?” in 1962 when he became the manager of the N. Y. Mets, an expansion team. Their main distinktion was that they were the worst, or to be charitable, one of the worst baseball teams, ever. Sportswriter Jimmy Breslin even (ab?)used that title for a book about The Mets’ innumerable misplays.

Some old-timers and relic historians claim that Casey actually said, “Can’t anybody play this game here?”, or “Can’t anybody play this here game?”, or “Here’s looking at you, kid!” No, wait a minute. I think that last line was either said or not said by Humphrey Bogart, another card. Here’s how it went down. He decided to teach Ingrid Bergman a card game during the filming of Caseyberra, uh, I mean Casablanca. Bogie had to make a tough choice between teaching her strip poker and strip squeezes in bridge, but finally he decided to endplay her into the former. Somehow, the quote made it into the film. “As time goes by”, it evermore becomes one of the most famous card game lines of all time, especially in Hollywood — an extremely delusional version of ace and king asking bids.

Anyway, I’m a progressively higher bidder (at least in bridge) so to be compassionate to those who are conservative about first calls, I won’t quibble about a few words, especially in a lingo as absurd as English, disirregardless if they are here, there, or everywhere. Therefore, I entitled Casey’s diatribes, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Here Game Here?” I can assure you that Casey often made similar remarks for many eons, starting long before 1962. Typically, he did that when he saw “expert” bridge maneuvers and commentary.

In this series, I’ll attempt to explain the types of things that inspired such splendid oratory from Casey. Among the amazing brain twisters that Casey and Yogi will analyze are some that were butchered in the pre-, during-, and post-mortem — sometimes by many of the best players and writers in the world! In various cases, the manglizations were not detected for years or even decades, at least to our admittedly rather limited worldwide historical knowledge of the hands! Furthermore, such types of hands may not be so unusual in the area of bidding machinations, but these will involve play problems. Generally, you will be trying to find improvements in the play of the defenders and/or declarer.


Even though it is not the primary intent, comments about the bidding are also welcome for learning purposes. Likewise, so are remarks about the bidding or play under different vulnerability or scoring conditions.


See if you can meet Casey’s tough standards! Show him that you really know how to declare and defend in this here game here, there, and hereafter!

Please keep in mind that Casey & Yogi stress bridge fundamentals and scientific play. They probably will not be duped very easily by supposedly spellbinding common “wisdom” and propaganda, result merchant nonsense, and doubledummy solutions that are not reasonable in real bridge. They just don’t care to go along like lemmings with the rest of the turkeys. On the other hand, they’re not very fussy about spelling and other lingo junk. They want players to search for the best possible lines and every edge, even if they are only a smidgeon better than others are — of course, all within the legal limits. In the long run home, that is winning bridge.

Or to put that into a little perspective:

1. In many games, any expert doofus usually can make the “obvious” plays. A real player exerts some brainpower to find the times when the “obvious” is wrong. But listen up! Sometimes, such improvements may not be optimal either, even if experts claim otherwise.

2. Even beginners can come up with the “right” solution for many specific hands if they can see all the cards (although there are plenty of tough doubledummy problems too). However, these are not doubledummy hands, unless otherwise stated.

3. It is fine with Casey if some competitors chose to weigh themselves down unnecessarily, as long as they are not his players. His goal is to have you use your brainpower to beat them and their ill thought out ideas, glitzy jewelry, hairy resistance, etc. when you get to the finish line.

Thank goodness! This part is over!

P.S.: For many types of non-bridge Lunacies, please reference —

My Restarted Facebook Page: Al the Plumber

Twitter: @Al_the_Plumber

Or send your Email address for inclusion on the bridge and/or non-bridge free mailing lists.







Ed JudyJanuary 27th, 2011 at 3:32 am

I thought I knew a little something about expert/famous/colorful bridge players but this gent (Al

Stauber) is new to me and something else (yes, I’ve read that he taught BERGEN how to preempt).


cam frenchJanuary 28th, 2011 at 1:35 am

“Warren Beat-It” probably made his best move with Annette Betting, where he cashed in on several large wagers most frequently that he would never walk down the aisle.

My favourite Yogi lines:

1) Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

2) Reporter at spring training: What is your hat size Yogi?”

Yogi: “Don’t know, not in shape yet.”

Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed and I love baseball.

The title of Billy Martin’s biography? (well worth the read)

Wild, High and Tight. Give that title editor a Pulitzer.

Makes Sal the Barber look like a hairdresser. 🙂



[…] you have not read “CAN’T ANYBODY HERE PLAY THIS HERE GAME HERE?” – INTRO, you may want to do so before proceeding to any of the cases.  However, you probably will survive […]

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