Al The Plumber


Congratulations on winning the ACBL Platinum Pairs, Bob Hamman and Justin Lall!  BUT ——
NO PAIR in the event, or EVEN ALL THE OTHERS COMBINED, could have come close to matching some of my partnership’s remarkable achievements.  I played with Marc Rabinowitz, who recently made the mistake of showing up in the same town where I live in FL.  The rare times that we got together so we could use our blank convention card as a place-mat, all that we succeeded in doing was pigging out in a pizzeria.  However, we did get more red sauce on it each time, thus making more things that we don’t play Alertable.
Anyway, of course, he was world-renowned throughout whatever little was known of the world back in Fred Flintstone’s hey day.  (Incidentally, “Hey” is how they used to Alert in both bridge and golf.  The number “fore” hadn’t come to the four yet either.)  Using their perennially rocky methods, Fred and Marc once big clubbed their way to as high as 999th overall out of 1000 in the Bedrock Duduathalon, a combined bridge and golf event for non-dynamic duos.  By some never explained coincidence, that was also the first time that the two players of a partnership both were found croaked during a discovery play, although neither was doing any croaking.  In addition, they each had a duplicate board and a golf club embedded in their skulls.  Despite their grave condition, that pair nailed shut position #1000 with the weird score of WTF, thus depriving Fred and Marc of that overall position.  Pardon my French, but I believe that WTF is the Cro-Magnon relay system abbreviation that translates to DNF, unless they bid a longer adieu that suits them later on.           
Marc also had some students at some time in his bridge non-career.  Of course, many students are “tutored”, but Marc used a little different, but spellbinding, approach.  He “tortured” them instead, but that’s close enough for bridge work.  I guess that’s why he always says that getting them to learn anything at all was like pulling teeth.  Worse yet, he said that none of them appreciated his most advanced captivating, duplicateboarding methods called Stayman and Regular Blackwood.  In a ruff huff, Marc pretty much stopped playing.  By the way, some of those hopeless beginners were named Jeff Meckstroth, Bobby Levin, and Ralph Katz.  I wonder if they later played even as much as once in a blue moon.  Or did they just give up on deck work after undergoing Marc’s brutal hammering initiation, thereby subsequently getting eclipsed by hordes of ACBL Rookie Monsters.
OK, let’s get on with the highly billed Ducky Platypus Pairs.  Here are some examples, from just the second session of the Final, regarding ducking out of winning positions:
1. Naturally, we are much more interested in Good Sportspersonship (It’s hard to keep up with all the PC stuff.  Is that correct now?) Awards than anything else.  It’s ridiculous, but many other players want to collect masterpoints or mistresspoints, or even more bizarrely, they want to climax by winning events.  Err go (I think that’s screwed up bridgepig Latin), we intentionally get many bad results at the beginning of each session to make lots of players feel that they are in the zone, especially an erogenous one if they are chickens coming home to roost, or to us roosters.
That sets the scene for the first 12 boards of the last session.  We decided to pitch only 9 of them.  We do have to mix it up a little, and get a sort of indecent result here and there.  Otherwise, the ACBL good sportspersons hip enough to figure out our strategy might complain that they are not bad enough players to duplicate our duplicate tactics.  Anyway, here are our scores on those boards (on a 13 top): 2-0.0, 2-1.0, 1-1.5, 2-2.0, 1-3.0, & 1-4.5.
Later we didn’t want to be quite so obvious, but we snuck in another 1.0, 2-2.5’s, & a 4.0.  Therefore, our sporting total on those 13 boards (out of a total of 26 boards in the session) was 25.0.  Our percentage on that half of the game was 25.0 / (13 * 13) = 14.79%.
Obviously, on those boards, we cruised right along playing our version of Moneyball.  It’s hard to pin down players on this, maybe because it is not up their alley, but sometimes it somehow strikes some people that we are playing Gutterball.  Please spare me such nonsense.  The contenders that we are supposed to bowl over just are trying to frame us.
Anyway, by using our strategy of remaining as consistently inconsistent as possible, I think we emerged as clear winners of yet another Good Sportspersonship Award.  However, for some reason we haven’t heard from the ACBL yet.  They probably lost our phone #’s and Email addresses again.
Unfortunately, good things can’t last forever.  We got up to a little below average for that session, and staggered into a well undeserved 13th or 14th overall, depending which “ACBL Official Final Results” you believe.  We would have liked to finish a lot lower.  We think we have a great non-system to succeed at that very often, but we still think we won the award convincingly.
2. We played in a “theoretically” impossible to locate vul 3-2 club fit instead of our 5-3 spade fit, even after an opponent opened a natural 1 .  No one else in the event found it.  I mistakenly overplayed it for only -200, and thus got too many matchpoints, 1.5 out of 13.  Sorry pard, I’ll try to lose more tricks next time.
3. We sort of Nonstripe-tail Aped the opponents in TWO CLUBS, AND then remembered not to run like a Nonstripe-tailed Ape when they went ape-shit and whipped out the XX card.  -760.  VICTORY IN DEFEAT!  But a strange thing happened on the way to the formal defeat party.  We were fixed by the field for the umpteen zillionth time.  Three pairs in their direction bid a major suit slam so those sitting our way at their tables were -980.  Damn!    
(Note: Well, at least my partner didn’t pitch a trick, and further demoralize the opponents by netting them +960.  Naturally, that tiny 20 point scoring difference is a lot more agonizing than 220 points is for them in such circumstances.  My partnerships have worked extremely hard to avoid giving pain to gazillions of opponents.)
4. We had too much defense to let them play 5  nonvul going down , so 5 X -2 by us for -500 was an easy choice.
5. They might not X our 2  for -100, so we voluntarily went to 3 .  Double by them.  -300.

Well, that’s enough regarding that momentous session.  I’ll add a couple more low highlights of our game during the first final session:
1. I counted that we tried to dump 10 boards in that session, but unfortunately, 3 times the nasty layouts of the cards foiled us from doing so.
2. Here is one that worked: I could make 2  from my side, and partner could make 3  from his.  Unfortunately, he had bid spades first, so I went to the 5 level to lure him into bidding 6.  I won.  6 , -300.

My keyboard is folding rapidly due to all the stroking of contract declarations so I’ll conclude with just a couple of our numerous innovative pitches from the earlier sessions.
1. A vul 6  in our 5-3 fit was extremely close to being gin, so of course 6 with a stiff A opposite Qxxxx was incredibly enticing.  Down 3, -300.  NICE!  But not perfect.  We did get 0.5 out of 55.  I’ve filed for a formal ACBL investigation.  Black ops tie-ins only please.  Obviously, someone has stolen our copywronged system.
2. Not wanting to play 4  for +420, or 3NT for +430, we settled on the makeable 5  for -50.

There are lots more exciting deals, but my phone is ringing off the finesse.  It must be the ACBL calling about our trophies.
Until next time, please remember it is better to give matchpoints than to receive.
May all your finesses lose except when you play against me,
Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy
P.S. Elvis was a no-show for the Mixed Pairs.  He was supposed to play with Grace Land.  She is still here, uncontrollably crying a river over that hound dog.  Flood warnings are in effect for the Mississippi River and all the Gulf States.
Just in: Timberlake and Julie arrived from London.  Both are crying about copyright infringement.  Please stay tuned, unless you want to tune out.

New York Times 2012/02/09: Throw winners, keep losers!

RE: New York Times Article ‘A Count Provides the Signal to Discard Two High Hearts

To: Phillip, Adam, and a big group of Bcc victims!


As I told Adam on Facebook, that’s the way I play.  Throw winners, keep losers!
BUT — I can never leave well enough alone.  SO — was South nuts?  Why wasn’t he also trying to get rid of at winners, or at least one of them anyway, just as Adam was doing during that hand from the Bermuda Regional?  Naturally, that’s the first thing that should come to mind for any bridge player!  Based on the first two tricks, West had  KQJT, and it was “certain” the heart suit was blocked.  (Well, unless something even weirder than Adam’s driving was going on, but that’s another story.  Anyway, according to Heisenberg’s Certainty Principle, such over-weirdness is not possible in any space-time continuum.  It doesn’t matter whether it is in the Bermuda Triangle or not.)
Therefore, after South went out of his way to get to dummy, play the  Q, and East covered with the K, declarer should have gotten rid of a low club winner! The whole point of playing bridge is to be written up in bridge articles.  Only if the clubs were 4-0, would that maybe not happen for this hand.  However, since W had overcalled a four card heart suit, it was extremely unlikely that he had a club void.  Even if he did, there was a good chance that a squeeze or endplay could develop another trick.
But did South duck the  K?  Incredibly, NO!  : )  So he didn’t know what to do when the  A unfortunately dropped out of his hand.  Of course, I’d never suggest that declarer was just a pig, and he intentionally played the A.  As stated in the column, he still should have made 3NT on the actual layout .
But who cares about all of that?  South just should have claimed by stating that he would lead a low club to the Q at Trick 3.  If they are not 4-0, EW will only get one club & three heart tricks, so South has 9 tricks.  (If the Q wins, and East follows low to the next round, South can finesse the J to protect against East really being that nasty guy named Grosvenor!)  If East has 4 clubs, South gets enough club tricks to make 3NT by finessing as necessary.
If West has 4 clubs, he must let the Q win to have any chance of beating 3N.  Then South, our hero, fiddles while West burns.  Just play some high spades.  Depending what five card distribution he shows up with in spades and diamonds, also play some diamonds if necessary to eventually squeeze him out of various tricks and exit cards.  In some cases, a diamond trick may have to be lost early to retain control of the situation, put maximum pressure on West, etc.  Anyway, it is generally OK to let him dump one hi heart, but he can’t be allowed to get rid of both of them, and then permit East to get in.  Technically, that is known as “Down One” (or worse).  Once his distribution is known, regardless what West does, evidently South later can establish clubs or endplay him into giving South a third club trick club.  Therefore, declarer will get at least 3 spades, 1 heart, 2 diamonds, and 3 clubs.
In real life if West has 4 clubs, it is one of those situations when it is not practical to claim.  It would take too long to explain & is prone to screw-ups or misunderstandings.  In addition, waterboarding may be illegal, but duplicateboarding isn’t.  Let the opponents burn out their brains trying to figure out how to beat the contract.  That’s the key to winning bridge.  Well — that’s aside from trying to get rid of winners.
Bridge is such an easy game!
Al, The Plumber of the Depths of Lunacy!
P.S. Since the dreaded “Al the Plumber” blogs on and have not been used to MUDdy the bridge waters for quite a while, I’ll post the letter on there for anyone who wants to make public comments.  I’ll also put it on Facebook. 

New York Times 2011/04/02: A Good News, Bad News Situation

To: Phillip

Re: Your 4/2/11 New York Times column

Cc: Victims on Bridge Distribution List, Blogs, and Facebook “Bridge” Group

I have a Good News, Bad News type of story about the same deal that is in the 4/2/11 column. The link for it is:

Dealer:  South

Vul: None






















The bidding at my table:

West North East South
Pass 1 Pass 1NT
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 4 Float  

Perhaps you don’t like our bidding, but what would you done instead? Note that North showed his spade support instead of raising diamonds. Our 1M-2M raises weren’t necessarily all that great & 3S originally would have been weak w/ 4 trumps, so 3S now was quite likely to show only 2 trumps or a pretty bad hand w/ 3 (probably <= 6 junky support points). Also, in standard types of systems, jump shifts by opener are made on <4 card suits moderately often.

Lead: 8 (same as in the column)

Incidentally, to head the usual pathetic remarks, we were NOT playing in the Women’s Pairs! However, the ACBL often used the same deals for some concurrent events at the Nationals. I like that practice because it lets players from those events discuss lunacies, or even occasional triumphs, on mutually played deals. It may not be that great for writers because it reduces the amount of ammo available to them. However, there’s usually an abundant supply anyway, at least of fiascos. 🙂

BTW, I have played in Women’s and Men’s events at the same time! — Especially some directed by the late Maury Braunstein, the Chief ACBL Director & inventor/user of wacky movements. They mainly occurred when he was in charge of some tourneys w/ a fairly small # of tables for Men’s Events (20+ years ago & usually for a one session weekday afternoon Sectional). He provided us w/ an extremely welcome big increase of ambiance for a few rounds or so; the men would go into a Women’s section! Who says the good old days weren’t really all that good?

OK, I’m sure that fascinates all of you, but unfortunately it’s time to get back to the hand.

I played the Q and E ducked pretty smoothly. I couldn’t be sure what was happening since EW played 3rd & lo, but I had a hunch E had the K (& thus presumably the 10).

Then I floated the Q. W won & returned another spade. E pitched a club. It appeared that he didn’t like clubs, but maybe he thought that any true info might only help me (that was probably right). With him having only one spade, I was most hoping he might hold all the important cards were out: the heart guard(s), long diamonds if they were not 3-3, and the CA.

Then he would be in a 3-suit repeater! Thus, I could make 6. Note that 3-suit squeezes do not necessarily repeat, especially if the victim unguards certain suit(s). [Amazingly, it also can be the case when declarer has only one loser! :-)] It is left as an exercise for the reader to show that he couldn’t stop a 2 trick gain on this hand if he guarded everything! (Don’t you just love those kinds of statements?)

But even a simple squeeze to make 5 could be there too. So I cashed another spade. W seemed to encourage in clubs (too bad), I threw a club from dummy & E pitched a lo heart. Now the last spade: another club from W, a heart from dummy & a club from E.

First, The Bad News: It wasn’t the CA. It seemed that the layout was probably now:


















Some of the diamonds were honors, but it made no diff. Other layouts were logically possible bridge-wise, but usually didn’t matter unless W really guarded hearts.

It was time to test diamonds. W dumped a club on the Q. So I played the last diamond, unloading the CK. E was endplayed.

Now, The Good News: At least I made 5. And More Good News Later On: It was worth 21.5 out of 25 (altho not as high a %age as in the Women’s Pairs). Draw your own conclusions. 🙂 Actually, it appears to me that declarer can always make 5 regardless what the defense does, even without the crisscross squeeze reported in the paper. However, there is some guesswork re whether to give up on 6, hooking in spades, the way to get to dummy to do so, etc. Furthermore, even making 6 wouldn’t have gained much. It was going to be tough to beat a few +500’s our way!

That’s all folks! — At least for now.

Meck, Me & Meager HCP’s

Hi Folks!

Looking for a Louisville warm-up hand?  Here’s one that you might try.  Or it also should be SUITable if you want to stay nice and warm at home.  But first —

Have you heard about the recently announced online “Partnership Desk” program that is a mutual “undertaking” between the ACBL and the associated funereally adept federal govts of its members?

You may be familiar with the incredibly accurate govt estimates of many measurements that are stated as ranges.  An example is each politician’s gross loot.  Sometimes, it is expressed in exponential ranges (say in $’s) such as <104,104-105,105-106,106-107, >107, etc.  Well, I guess such types of data certainly are more than good enough for govt or ACBL work.

Like zillions of other web functions, the new whiz-bang procedure matches people or facsimiles thereof called bridge addicts.  I’m interested in hand-shaking progress so I filled out the form.  I supplied the requested “accomplishments” and “style” ranges as follows:

World Championships: <101

Master Points: 105-106

Bidding Exuberance: >10infinity+1

Amazingly, a few matches were close enough for the afore-mentioned govt/ACBL work.  One involved someone whose Bidding Exuberance range was “only” 10infinity-10infinity+1.  (Of course, some novice analysts believe that these ranges should NOT be ultra high for both pards.  Obviously, they have no concept of POWER BIDDING.)  Other than that our ranges matched perfectly!!!  This one was a guy named Meck.  Actually, he had a much longer name, but my brain is so cluttered w/ preempts, overbids, psyches, etc., that I didn’t have room for the rest of the letters.

Any statistics expert who is worth his weight in masterpoints can verify that all of this is a slam-dunk, and a grand one at that!  Naturally, or artificially, we were both eager to try out this system.  It happens that a friend of his named Rod something or other was also a great match.  I heard them say something about “Spare the Rod, and …”  Anyway, he played at the other table in a FL Regl Swiss T4.  At the end of another grueling iron player bridge-a-thon, this hand popped into existence:


North (Meck)

 A 7 5 4 3


 A K 7 5 2

 8 6 3

South (Al)

 K Q J 6 2

 A 10 9 8 3

 10 3



NS Vul. S dealer. IMPs (Big surprise!)


My recollection of the spots may be spotty, but once again, they are close enough for ACBL work.  Naturally, neither of you has the spade T, 9, or 8.



The bidding spun upward at the expected rate:

South West North East
1 4 5 Pass
 6  Float    


Strange game — this thing called bridge.  Some peculiar players don’t think 10 HCP is enough to open, even with other great alibis such as in this collection.  However, before the first round of bidding was over, I knew that Meck apparently mainly cared how spectacular my club(s) were.  There was a good chance that my HA would be great for discarding on my pard’s diamonds and/or spades.

Not only that, w/ merely 2 diamonds, I probably could set up his suit even if he was being exuberant again (e.g., no DQ, no super length, etc).

BTW, I could also see that apparently Meck only wants me to have Kxxxx (maybe w/ a Q and/or J for laughable duplication, maybe on rare occasions semi-so, if an 18-wheeler were needed to roll this thing home) in a suit & out elsewhere to open.  This guy really must be a great player!  So w/ probably 3-6 working points, naturally I bid slam, expecting (hoping?) that it would be gin.

The play:

[For what it’s worth: It appeared that our opps might have been Flt. B or C players.  I didn’t remember having played against them.  Probably I’ve played in enough non-Northern FL Regl events (even disregarding bracketed KO’s) to meet up w/ a lot of the rather frequent players – quite a few times in many cases.]

T. 1&2: W played CAK w/ E playing the 2 and then the 7.

Assume that they play standard defense w/o a way to ask for count at high levels.

What is your plan?

Oh yeah, one other thing before you start.  Reportedly, Meck swings a mean golf club, or actually a whole bunch that are in his bag of tricks.  He doesn’t seem to have those weapons at the table, but they might be in his car or hotel.  It seems advisable to make this thing by the book, or by hook, or by crook, or by even a menacing look.  Otherwise, you’ll be lucky to be playing even in “club” games.

What’s your plan, w/ some detail for eventualities, please?

Go to it!


Al the Plumber

Regarding the 2/24/11 NY Times column on viable trump fits

Hi Phillip & Various Internet Victims! Regarding your column on viable trump fits:

Wow!  I am only one day behind (original version was written 2/25).  Due to time spent on my “analyses” of the world lun-a-thon, that is probably a record for me.

Anyway, tears & years ago, I was kicked out of ACBL Nationals and World Championships for egregious overbidding and “unviable” trump fits before I was able to attain The Holy Grail.  Of course, that is THE 0-0 TRUMP FIT! A few have reached it, but usually it was a disaster, generally doubled, and I believe at least once REDOUBLED at the 4 level!  Now that I’m playing in “The Big Time” sometimes, maybe I can finally reach my goal.

Naturally, I am interested in only getting good scores for such scientific “efforts”.  (In bowling terms, any doofus can both keep the ball in the gutter, and live there too.)  My “best” fit with any pard, regardless which of us was declarer, was a 1-0 with Paul Tobias who has a statistics Ph. D.  Perhaps he can demonstrate the merits of such techniques without revealing our secret formulas.  They would be extremely dangerous if they fell into the hands or bidding boxes of unscientific bidders.

We also saved at the apparently magical 4 level before the opps bid it.  However, they could have safely gone to 5.  -400 (yes, we were nonvul & undoubled) got us the substantial majority of the matchpoints.  I think we might have done even better, but we got fixed somewhat by the field.  For example, a few maniacs sitting the other way may have gone on to the unmakeable 6 contract.  In addition, Paul was hoping to hold it to -350 by ruffing with my stiff Q.  My RHO unsportingly ruffed before me with the K, and then the opps drew our trumps, oops, I mean TRUMP, but the matchpoint score was not affected.  (Not too amazing!  : )


I’m virtually certain, with some combo of pards, we have been in every possible trump fit of 6 cards or less (except the 0-0) — some multiple times.  Often these have been good results!  I must admit that some that were reached unintentionally (!) were not usually great.  However, some incredible disasters may have been a complete nullo bidding-wise, but not always score wise.  Even a matchpoint top or a super IMP result popped up here & there!

The 5-0 is one that I have bid to make from time to time, even at fairly high levels such as 4 of a major.  Sometimes, a very strong trump suit in a 5-0 is good enough to beat out minor games & 3NT, and occasionally, it is the only makeable game!


Finally, re: your “advice” not to make a habit of playing the 4-2:

Here is one of times that I tried it.  Before I was kicked out, I played in a Natl Mixed BAM event with Judy Landau.  Per ACBL regulations, I swear on my ACBL Gold LM Card (wherever it may be), that I was interested in this pixie bombshell, uh, I mean woman, purely for bridge purposes./

We had a big club fit and probable game (or maybe higher) values.  Both opps had bid spades.  I might be able to recall the exact auction if I cogitated long enough, but we started Q-bidding and it looked like 5 was gin or close to it.

She Q’d 4, an unbid suit. I passed! She almost had a heart attack with her Ax!  I had KQJT.  I had Jxx of spades, and as the auction progressed, it appeared that she probably had a dub.  I figured she could control spades in the short hand, then draw trumps if they broke & sometimes even if they didn’t, and runs tons of club tricks.  I did not know if she had 1, 2, or 3 hearts.  Presumably she had less than 4, because she had a chance to make a neg X and hadn’t.

All of this was wonderful except the hearts broke badly, the opps defended correctly, & she couldn’t make it.  5 was cold.

Maybe your advice is right!  : )

Best regards,

Al the Plumber

PS: I believe an ex-countryman of yours, a Mr. Reese, once suggested playing 6 in a 2-2 fit.  At least as the cards were distributed, it would make on a non-trump lead.

Of course, many believed that he was not only a bridge expert, but also an expert in signaling heart distributions. In fact, another ex-countryman and your NY Times predecessor, a Mr. Truscott, was so impressed by his system that he wrote a whole book about it. (Not that you’re likely to be too surprised by any of this!)

Now — a possible surprise.  Perhaps, Reese’s methods were even better than Truscott realized. Maybe Reese knew the opps’ distros also!


Now to those of you who have survived the letter:

There are various 4-2 & 5-0 trump fits that were played with the intention of those spots being the best contracts and at least plausible reasons to believe they could make.  Do you know of any such deals with worse trump fits?

Obviously, zillions were played because of mistakes, short suit psyches, pards having less trumps than expected, etc. Furthermore, some of those may have made. While they may be interesting, and may be reported, I’m most interested in the other type, which probably is quite rare. I would guess that at least there have been some such 4-1 fits, perhaps on auctions similar to the one that I had. A 4-1 would be even more unusual, if it were known to be that during the auction.

Thank you.

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Allan Stauber

ALLAN STAUBER: (presumably cross-referenced to everyone else on the list; WOW! He must be incredibly popular! Incidentally, he also is known as GPITU. Some players say that stands for Greatest Preemptor in the Universe. Others seem to have a variety of meanings for the letters, especially the “P”. To save you time, none of them will be shown here.)

Stauber (watching as dummy, while the declarer and defense battled furiously to see who could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory — fortunately, the defense pulled off the final blunder): Played along CLASSIC CROSS-TOSS lines!

Stauber (notifying the director that a board from the prior day’s evening session was matchpointed incorrectly — the opponents with their 30 HCP’s could actually make 7 or 6NT, but never got into the bidding!!): On board XX, we took the save and went for 200 as shown on the score sheet, but the matchpoint score is wrong!

I didn’t add that I played the “save” in 2NT UNDOUBLED NV, DOWN 4!!! The vul opponents never got into the bidding after my slightly sub-sub-sub-standard third seat 1NT opening bid. In case you think this is “impossible”, how about a little quick brainwork? How could it reasonably or semi-reasonably have occurred after I opened a supposedly “strong” NT (14+ to 17).

We only had 7 matchpoints out of 17 on the score sheet, because the “1” had been left off! (I believe the unusual top on each board was because they were scored across two 9-table sections.) I learned of this somewhat disappointing result as I was driving away from the scene of the accident as fast as I could, though I was not drunk with glory because we didn’t emerge victorious. Anyway, my partner was telling me our board results.

The next day, we learned that everything balanced on the score sheet. The director had scored the event by hand, but he had mis-added by 10 in 2 directions, so the check totals were “OK” — well, at least sort of OK!

We won the event on this board after the score correction. By holding it to down 4, it actually gained a matchpoint. One pair was only plus 230 the other way! It would have been an even better story, but unfortunately, this one point didn’t win the event by itself. At every other table, game or slam (both normally in spades) was bid and made.

I, declarer’s RHO, did not cover dummy’s Q with my K. It was easy to see that covering was wrong, and would let the declarer make the contract.

Stauber (after the play was over): Fortunately, we took “Cover an honor with an honor” off our convention card just before the session started.

Anonymous (Stauber’s partner who was the declarer): Should I have played the hand differently?

Stauber: It depends whether or not you wanted to make it!

Stauber: When life deals you lemons, make lemonade! – A quote from Stauber’s a-BRIDGE-d secret manual: “Bridge Overbidding Complete”.

Or to paraphrase Winston Churchill: “Never has so much been bid on so little by so few, namely one.”

Stauber: Always remember. The opponents are there to help you! – A quote from Stauber’s un-a-BRIDGE-d un-a-bomber secret manual: “Bridge Overbidding and Overplaying Complete”.

Years ago, Ethan Stein was behind me on the line of supposedly better players who wanted to get seedy entries for some National event.

Anonymous Director Selling Entries: Name?

Stauber: Stauber. I’m playing with so and so.

Stein: It’s amazing. You’ve won a bunch of National events recently, but many of the directors and players have no idea who you are.

The reason that I did have a pretty good streak going was because I knew which directors to pay off! I had no need to know anyone else.

The war zone: The RPI Student Union

I was South in 4 of a major. The contract was straightforward. The tenth trick depended on losing only one diamond trick with Kxx in dummy and xx in my hand.

A scout was seated to my right. Despite her recent denials, Nancy Pelousy, The Speaker of the ACBL, had been notified about my duplicate-boarding methods and me. She unblinkingly acknowledged that they were completely legit. In fact, she said she frequently used them herself, especially against her main adversaries, a bunch of Republics and an Obamination. She even had some more brutal methods that she encouraged me to use. I questioned whether they were also legal. She used tortured logic to assure me that they were.

Anyway, the battlefield news was not good. The scout indicated that East had the diamond ace over the K. Undaunted, I went into action.

Stauber (in a low voice to the scout, but loud enough so that East could also hear): My only hope to make the contract is to lead to the king of diamonds, and for East to take it!

So I led up to the K, and East played low!!! Making 4! It serves East right for taking advantage of board talk!

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Paul Sidikman

PAUL (JERSEY PAUL) SIDIKMAN: (cross-referenced to Anonymous and Allan Stauber; also the whole state of New Jersey, but it is far too smelly to include even in this malodorous document)

My partner (this hand was played back in my college days and I think he was Jersey Paul Sidikman, but I’m not positive), played 3N after I had responded 2 to his one level opening in another suit. My anonymous RHO led the 2 (attitude, I think). Partner called for the 4 from my AKT84. Anonymous LHO played the 3, and my partner discarded! Then the yelling started!


Anonymous LHO: I thought I was supposed to give count! (I think he had 9 third).

This probably is the record for the lowest card in dummy ever to win trick one in a NT contract in which: declarer showed out, there were no revokes, the hand wasn’t rigged, no one pulled the wrong card, etc. As I recall, another oddity is that for some reason it didn’t matter! My partner would have taken the same number of tricks even if my LHO had covered the 3! Unfortunately, I didn’t record the actual hand.

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Doug Ross

DOUG ROSS: (cross-referenced to Charlie Parker, Warren Rosner, Allan Stauber, and Ron Stumpo)

Ross, a good player, grew increasingly agitated as he didn’t get his club ruff even though I had ample opportunity to give it to him. Ross could no longer contain himself as the hand ended in disaster.


Stauber (in about one microsecond): NO BRAINS, PARTNER?!

It was right not to give Ross a club ruff, but that development (or lack thereof) apparently exasperated Ross a bit, and subsequently the contract made.

P.S.: Maybe I should have made allowances for Ross. In RPI Student Union and other bridge games, Ron Stumpo, his regular partner, had repeatedly smacked him over the head and given him literal uppercuts (not the usual bridge kind) with metal duplicate boards!

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Pete Relson

PETE RELSON: (cross-referenced to Allan Stauber)

Relson is an excellent player, probably better than many top seeds (usually designated by #3) in sections of National events, but he has seldom played in them. This was one of our more interesting auctions:

East (Stauber) South West (Relson) North
1 Pass 2NT (Jacoby) Pass
4 (void) Pass Pass (!!!) Pass

The lead was made, and Stauber was checking to see if he was the declarer and what was going on! Suddenly:

Relson: I’m sorry, I thought you were just making a fast arrival minimum bid. I forgot which major you opened!

P.S.: Despite my best efforts, we didn’t get any matchpoints for this result.

Nauseating Bridge Quotes: Eric Rodwell

ERIC RODWELL: (cross-referenced to Robert Lebi and Allan Stauber)

Rodwell: (commenting to his client partner about Stauber, an opponent): Watch out! This guy is the farthest out there of all of them!

Rodwell: Are you playing Stauber Weak Two’s, as usual? (Some think they are sometimes on the weak side of weak.)

Stauber: I don’t want to, but my partner makes me do it!

Rodwell and I were discussing some bidding situation. He was playing as one half of the Meckwell Brothers Act in the event. He apparently thought my choice was on the aggressive side.

Stauber: Well, we can’t all be Roth-Stoners (“like you guys” was implied)!

For those not familiar with Roth-Stone, it required about 100 HCP’s to open the bidding in 1st or 2nd position. Apparently, Al Roth must have thought he didn’t declare the hands very well. Therefore, he didn’t want to get to any challenging contracts!