Al The Plumber

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Mark Lair

MARK LAIR: (cross-referenced to Paul Maier, Lew Mathe, Mike Smolen, Allan Stauber, and Eddie Wold)

Smolen and I had racked up a superb system result by playing in our 4-3 heart fit against Lair and Wold. After the round, there was a bit of a discussion about this triumph. I had bid Checkback after his 1N rebid, but he bid 2 on a 3 card suit! I brilliantly rose to the occasion, and I raised to the optimal 4 contract. He had recently started playing some West Coast version with other LALA-Land players. His 2 bid was correct for that form of Checkback, and he thought we were also playing that version. However, he had overlooked a slight detail. He had never told me about any of this! As I was to learn, perhaps there were other factors in play.

Smolen told this story about him and a guy named Paul Maier. They were playing in a matchpoint event. Smolen bid Checkback in a 1 minor-1S-1N auction, Maier responded 2 , and Smolen bid 4. It turned out that Maier had only 3 hearts (not per some convention; he was supposed to have 4). However, the opponents couldn’t figure out what had happened until it was too late, and Maier’s 2bid got his side a top! After the round, this conversation transpired:

Smolen: What are you doing? How can you bid 2 with only 3?

Maier: Those guys are f***in’ morons!

Later they were playing against Lew Mathe and partner. At the time, Mathe was one of the best players in the world. He was probably among the top 3 U.S. players, with some claims to being #1. The same exact auction occurred. Maier had 3 hearts again! The same confusion and top resulted! After the round, Smolen and Maier had another little chitchat:

Smolen: OK, you pulled that against the first two schmucks, but how can you do it against Mathe?

Maier: They’re ALL f***in’ morons!

Yes, indeed, that is the essence of successful bridge!

NS Vul. National MP Pair Event. W dealer.

W (Smolen) N (Passell) E (Stauber) S (Lair)
3 X Pass 4N (*)
P 5 (0/4) X 5 (**)
Pass Pass X Float


* = Blackwood.

** = Unspoken words, perhaps something like, “Well, I have one. I hope he misbid or was kidding! If he has 3, he’ll go on anyway.”

I had made sporting X’s with my 3 aces, and 5 X was -1 for 200. I think that was a top or very close to it for us across the field.

After EW had left the table —


Stauber: Nice bid on your QTxxx!!

Smolen: Yeah, I’m finally getting with the program (i.e., after my continual harangues to get him to make very aggressive preempts, especially at favorable. Nevertheless, I have to admit, not necessarily always quite that aggressive)! If you can’t beat them in the play, you’ve gotta beat them in the bidding!! (Not that I agree with that part about the play either!)

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