The Rueful Rabbit — Down the rabbit hole…

Congratulations to Norway

Dear Bridge Player,

Norway have done the double. After winning the Bermuda Bowl last year, they have followed it up by winning the Europeans. Dislodging the long seated Italians. This is also the first time Norway have won the Euors. What makes this extra special is that only 2 members of the Bermuda team played this time. (Helgemo and Brogeland)

More here:

It is remarkable that a country with a population of under 5 million can produce such strength in depth! Also, their youngest menber Espen Lindqvist is only 24!

Brogeland and Lindqvist also lead the cross IMPs in Round Robin 2. (However, it is sometimes possible to read too much into that metric.)

One further piece of credit to the Norwegians is that their system cards contained some of the best explanations particularly Brogeland/Lindqvist. You can see all system cards here …

The top 6 played will represent Europe in the Bermuda Bowl next year.

Also of note is that the its the first time since 1993 that Italy have not been on the podium.

Because I’ve had too much time on my paws, I decided to calculate the VP average across the field in Round Robin 2 Versus the top 6 teams … here are the results.

Thats quite an achievement by Bulgaria and Turkey.

Have a good game,


Have I got news for you?

Dear Bridge Player,

Major commotion in the European Bridge Championships in Pau.
And yet again it involves the Italian squad!

Angelini has not played in the Round Robin 2.

Here is why ….

Now for the really juicy stuff!

The RR2 match between Norway and Italy at the Europeans Championships was allegedly unpleasant at times.
Here is a Google translation of an article on the NBF website:

However, remember that
-1. This is a literal translation with special Norwegian words even Google can’t interpret.
-2. This is how it happened as experienced by the Norwegian camp. We have not heard the Italian version.

Both these snippets are provided by Roland Wald (BBO viewgraph coordinator)

More to follow!

Have a good game,

Ireland (Open) misses out on qualification for 2nd round

Dear Bridge Players,

I’ve been remarkably quite during the first 19 preliminary rounds of the European Championships in Pau for the simple reason that I was waiting for a point of inflection in Ireland’s performance – where we started to glide into the qualification comfort zone.

But the reality was that the Irish campaign never kick started. Now that we are out, there is a real sence of loss – but thankfully this low does not match the high we had 2 years ago when they snatched Silver in Warsaw.

The question is where did it all go wrong? Well I doubt the team will want to respond now (or ever) because one thing is sure … they are hurting.

However, its important to remember that they are still a great team and we’ll see all their names in lights again. Make no mistake, this is a big surprise both for us Irish and globally … the proof is that the betting (on heavily suggested a top 6 finish.

With a little luck I’ll get the thoughts of Jacko in good time.

Rueful Rabbit

Irelands Progress

Start day 3, here is the results and line up for the first 19 rounds …

Great Expectations

From Michael McGloughlin

Some readers will recall this further horror story from one of the National Team events last year. I do not have good memories of it and the reasons will become clear when one reads what happened.

With both sides Vulnerable I sat South hand and was contemplating the various bids that I might have were Partner to open I of Minor or I Spade. We had recently added a new feature to our slam bidding ( Exclusion Key Card Blackwood ) and I was wondering whether we might get the chance to show off our new toy but unsurprisingly Hearts were in the action ahead of us with West starting the ball rolling via a Weak 2 Hearts which was Passed back to me. After some thought to weigh up the various possibilities I decided to compete with a Take-out Double (always a bit risky when holding a trump void as became evident very soon
Partner holding 7 trumps to the AJ10 sitting over the opener understandably saw no reason to think that he was not in the running to be entering a very substantial penalty against a Doubled Part score holding AJ10xxxx trumps sitting over the bidder even though he was conscious of the fact that the trumps were 6/7/0/0

The Club King was led and held the trick after which there was no defence to the contract The Spade switched was won in dummy and declarer wasted little time winning the Ace cashing the Diamond Ace ruffing a Spade crossing to the Diamond King and ruffing a second spade reducing his hand to KQ98 of trumps and three small clubs. All that needed to be done thereafter was await his three further trump tricks with the KQ98 all sure to score as North helplessly ruffed each Club as it was played scoring just 3 low ruffs and his Heart Ace to add to the Club King which won the first trick and entering –670 on the sheet

Some readers will no doubt criticise the take-out Double and suggest that a simple 2 S is more descriptive but it seems to me that this is being wise after the event and some will also see that overtaking the Club King with the Ace and giving a ruff suffices to break up the ending and allows the defenders to emerge with 200 + but then there would be no story.

UpdatePractise match Open Vs Beijing Seniors

An Email from Seamus Dowling

Let it be known that the seniors team that takes on Team Ireland tomorrow night is not the Irish seniors team which will be in Pau, but the seniors team for Beijing. What a terrible disappointment for BBO kibitzers! But I feel it’s better to let them know in advance. The Pau seniors, who have accepted Michael O’Connor’s tender for the position of non-playing captain, are in training under renowned coach, O’Boru. I will be in Pau for the entire championships, covering all three events, Open, Womens and Seniors, for The Irish Times, to which I will be sending daily reports.

[Commercial Break] :The Tour America Cruise Holidays bridge cruise, starting in Rome, Aug. 31st and docking in Messina, Athens, Ephesus and Heraklion, is almost sold out but there may be a few vacancies for those who ring 01 8173558, ask for Neasa or Liza, and say that Seamus sent you. Starting at 1,399 Euro – which covers everything (including flights) except alcohol, it is an experience devoutly to be wished. A partner is guaranteed – for the bridge games only.

Regards, Seamus.


Further confirmation from David Jackson

This match is against the senior team going to Beijing.

Rex Anderson/Pat McDevitt
Pat Barry/David Jackson

It is not against the senior team going to Pau next week for EUROPEANS


Junior Update

Dear Bridge Players,

I just received an email from Noreen Pender (CEO to the Irish Junior).
I emailed incorrect details of the Irish Juniors Vs Rueful All-stars grudge match. This date is currently being hammered out by the respective legal teams.

Here is their agreed scheduled:

  • Mary Finn’s team this Monday (16th).
  • Paul Delaney’s team the Monday after that (23rd).
  • Terry Walsh after that (TBC) (30th).
  • Queries they have on the boards are sent off to experts for analysis. (Who are these experts?)

    Junior Activity

    Played in the Limerick fund raising competition for the Women.
    They are having a weekend of coaching this coming weekend. They each have been paired off with an expert “mentor”.
    Some of the team are playing in July in the European pairs.
    They are going to Brighton to play in the swiss teams.
    They hope to get to Bangor (end July) and Derry (mid Sept).
    They can be spotted playing in the Bankers, the Regent and some clubs in Kilkenny.

    Finally they want to thank the bridge community for the tremendous support.

    Another Email
    I also received an email from a BBO monitor. This concerned citizen counted the number of hands each of the juniors played on BBO in the last month.

    Here are the findings:
    David Synnott : 58 hands in the last month (none outside the organised training)
    Jamie Martin : the same 58 hands
    eofiachain : 96 hands in a month
    bsharkey : 243 hands in a month
    eman : 55 hands in a month
    gateway : 104 hands in a month

    In fairness, this does not count the number of kibitzed hands. However, many would agree that more activity is required.

    Have a good game,
    Rueful Rabbit

    Disaster with Flair

    Cork based Prof. Geoff Roberts submitted a chapter from his bridge Magnus Opus.

    The man is not to be trifeled with! In my reply, I omitted his full title and this was his response.
    “By the way, if you don’t know me personally its PROFESSOR Roberts. I worked hard for the title – and it wasn’t writing Bridge columns!”


    Play Bridge with Roberts: The Mistakes YOU can Make at Bridge, if You Try Just a Little Bit Harder

    Chapter 4: Disaster Against the Deirdres

    The last board of the last match in a multiple teams competition. Against a team known locally as the four Ds. A women’s team of a certain age, all called Deirdre, would you believe. It can be a bit tedious at times: “Who’s North?” “Deirdre”. “Whose bid?”. “Deirdre’s”. “Whose lead?” “Deirdre’s.” “Who called the Director?” “Deirdre.” “Who revoked?” “Deirdre.” “Who’s the team captain?”…….

    We are non-vul against vul. I hold:

    ♠ 10987
    ♥ 3
    ♦ Q9654
    ♣ A92

    The opponents bidding: 2d (benj acol) on my left, 3c, 3d, 3h, 4d, 5d. Declarer, we are told has 8 playing tricks with a solid suit in diamonds. Yeah, right. As solid as the Dollar!

    I think about doubling. Seems likely that the contract is going down. But why give the diamond position away, and they might well run to hearts. Also, the match has gone well so far. Why go through all that stress and strain for the sake of an extra 100?

    Partner leads the king of hearts. Dummy goes down:

    ♠ KQ
    ♥ J10842
    ♦ –
    ♣ KQ10863

    Oh, joy! A void diamond. You are going down, down, down, Deirdre!

    Shifting uncomfortably in her chair, Declarer says “thank you, partner”.

    She wins the 1st trick with the ace. Ace of diamonds, followed by the King and Jack. Partner shows out on the 2nd diamond and discards a couple of small black cards. The suit and pips don’t really register. Its been a long weekend and surely the count won’t count in this defence? Declarer discards clubs from dummy.

    In with the Queen of diamonds, what do I do now? I’m beginning to wish I had paid more attention to partner’s discards. It would be very handy to have a count at this point. I can hear partner now: “what’s the point in playing distributional signals if you don’t follow my discards”. Nag, nag, nag.

    Looking at dummy at this point I can see:

    ♠ KQ
    ♥ J10843
    ♦ –
    ♣ KQ10

    and a dreaded trump coup looming. I just hate it when the oppo make a five level contract against this kind of trump break. Bridge players are such gloaters. No sense of decorum.

    I don’t want to lead my club ace. I can see it getting ruffed and there are two spade entries – enough to shorten trumps and pull off the coup. So it will have to be a spade exit. That’s it. Attack declarer’s entries, as the books say.

    Declarer wins with the ace of spades. It looks like Declarer’s distribution is 1-2-7-3. Dear oh dear oh dear, Deirdre, so you prefer to play in a 7-0 trump fit rather than support your partner’s six card club suit. I just love to punish bad bidding! But funny that partner didn’t pre-empt with her 6-5 in spades and hearts. At this vul she usually pre-empts on principle with any six-card suit or 5-4 or better distribution. Maybe she’s finally taking to heart my little homilies on the difference between pairs and teams tactics. Still, 3d (Michaels) would have been fun! Anyway, my ace of clubs is not running away. Partner has a heart trick. Declarer doesn’t have the entries for the trump coup. Duck soup, as the toffs at the Young Chelsea say.

    Declarer’s next move is to play a heart. Partner wins with the Queen and plays another heart. Stupid Partner! He is shortening trumps for declarer!! I discard and…Declarer follows suit with a heart. I just don’t believe it. Declarer has three hearts on THAT bidding. Absolutely shocking. Worse still Declarer is in dummy and my worst nightmare is about to materialise. The jack of hearts is played. I discard and so does declarer – a club. The king of clubs is led from dummy and ruffed. A grand coup. It just gets worse and worse. Spade to the king. Another heart is led from dummy. I’ve had enough of this. Let get this over quickly. I ruff, overruffed. My last trump is drawn and declarer wins her 11th trick with the 2 of diamonds.

    Dummy Deirdre says: “I thought that might be the best spot. I always support partner’s suit when I have a void. Ho, ho, ho!

    Declarer Deirdre solemnly states: “I should never have made it”.

    Partner purses her lips and asks politely why I didn’t ruff the 3rd heart (lucky for me she is tired too – 4 hours sleep all weekend just isn’t enough at her age – and hasn’t noticed the psuedo-trump coup I have just perpetrated on declarer’s behalf. Strange, though, that she missed it – it is the second such defensive miscoup I have performed in the last month).

    What to say to teammates? Blaming partner might be a bit difficult, under the circumstances. It will have to be the barrage defence – four hearts makes on a diamond lead etc, etc. Come to think of it, maybe pards bid it. No. 3nt, two down. But every cloud has a silver lining. The boys are too busy arguing about their bidding to bother with our result.

    Time for a quick exit. Don’t think I’ll hang around for around for the prizes.

    Points to Remember

    1. The pseudo-trump coup works well against players who can be panicked into an unnecessary ruff. But make sure you play for it with a smug, self-satisfied smile on your face (not too difficult for any self-respecting bridge player)

    2. Its generally best to double in these situations. On balance you will perform better defending a doubled contract than not. With declarer its usually the other way round. Also, think of the adrenalin jolt that surges through you when dummy goes down. And that frisson of fear in the middle game when you see ways in which declarer might make. Think too of that feeling of relief when the contract goes down. Better than sex and Ecstasy combined! And if they make it – “it only cost 150” – and there may even be the small compensation of some obscure line of double-dummy defence that you can berate partner (and bore teammates) about missing.

    3.In the event of disasters of this magnitude always claim that it was a deliberate misdefence designed to create comic material for your new book.

    The next instalment: Chapter 3: Chump Coup

    A Horror Story

    This piece is curtesy of Michael McGloughlin.

    This hand arose in a recent Sean Stack Memorial competition played in the Regent Bridge Club. Many readers will have known Sean who passed a couple of years ago and the trophy for the competition in his memory was donated by Brendan O’Brien and Ranald Milne. The format of the competition is a 2 division round robin league of 6 rounds with the leading teams after the round robin section playing semi-finals and eventually a final
    On this hand large swings were recorded in quite a few of the matches. (Hands are duplicated across the room. Some teams made game in Hearts North South and Game in Clubs East West. Amongst those teams suffering the biggest adverse swing (Game and Slam) was that led by my team captain who held the East Hand above and had the following auction and who remains nameless in deference to the end result

    West North East South
    1C … 2S … P …. 4H
    P …. P …. 5C … P
    P …. 5H … P …. P

    The big problem arose on the first round as the Captain and his partner who employ a five card major structure, the main drawback to which is that a 1C opening can be, and often is made with only 3 or sometimes only 2 in the suit. Holding poor club support and very scattered values he felt it would be imprudent to support Clubs, overly optimistic to bid 3D and fatal to negative double, which invariably guarantees 4 hearts. His choice of Pass left his partner hopelessly cut out of the Auction went it came round to her at 4H. With losers all over the place opposite a Passed partner she Passed and rather than sell out to 4H he competed with 5C. This went to North judged well to bid on in Hearts (largely because of the Singleton Diamond) and there the auction fizzled out.
    Declarer had little difficulty in scoring 11 tricks losing just 1 Diamond and 1 Spade.
    At the other Table the Auction started 2C by West (Natural (Good Clubs suit and 11-15 HCP). Thereafter East with the VOID in Hearts was well placed to judge the power and trick taking potential of his hand. The Final contract of 6C posed little problem in the play. In fact in the absence of the Spade Ace lead declarer has an easy route to 13 tricks. This gave a swing of 1370 + 450 a total of 1820 or 18imps
    Many years ago one of the leading English writers recommended that in the highly competitive Auction it is always wise to bid one more a motto that East failed to follow when allowing the opponents to play 5 Hearts and equally South in the other room also ignored the rule when allowing West to declare 6 Clubs. The par for the hand is clearly 100 points to East West from 6H Doubled
    The message from this deal Take out insurance when opponents bid to game or slam and you have what you know is a likely cheap save. From time to time you will be turning a small plus of 100 to a minus of 100 or 300 but far better this than to suffer the indignity of losing over 1800 on one hand.

    Looking South

    Dear Bridge Players,

    For the last while Ireland has been sending out bridge raiding parties across the globe. Well, maybe it’s time we took some rear guard action down south?
    I’ve been checking out the results of last week’s Killarney congress and it seems to me that the Irish bridge community should be plugging the gaps by not letting Killarney silverware leave the island?
    Perhaps the Kerry/Cork players are just super cute – protecting the tourist industry by chucking MP’s and IMP’s at tourists? Maybe, maybe not.

    Either way, should someone co-ordinate the May, 2009 defence of Killarney?

    This year’s Brian Boro (Home Defender) Award goes to Bernie Rafferty & Jeroen Lodewijks (one of the Galway Lodewijks) who won the Mixed Pairs (Dr E N M O’Sullivan Trophy)

    Special mention goes to Cian Holland, Pat Quinn (Mixed teams) and Mamie MacCormac & Antoinette McGee (Ladies Teams) who won with foreign based players.

    Have a good game,
    Rueful Rabbit