Rock ‘n’ Roll bridge in Cleveland

The Bridge Burglar (Pieter Vanbennekom) goes rock 'n' roll in his Elvis costume

The Bridge Burglar (Pieter Vanbennekom) goes rock ‘n’ roll in his Elvis costume

CLEVELAND – My partner Christine Matus and I played our last session of Gold Rush pairs at the All-American Regional duplicate bridge tournament on the Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend in Cleveland immediately after touring the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame with the new Rolling Stones exhibit on the shores of Lake Erie. So while playing bridge, all the great rock songs of the last half-century were playing in our heads.

“Don’t let me down,” I sang to Christine in the evening session when we had a shot at first place overall.

“I say a little prayer,” she answered, but the bridge gods failed to answer her prayer, and with a couple of bad boards in the final rounds, we fell back to second in our North-South section with a 56% game. Coupled with another 56% game in the afternoon session, we only placed fifth overall, but good enough for 2.32 MasterPoints, 1.65 of them of them Gold and 0.67 Red. Coupled with the 4.27 Gold we got the previous day, our total two-day haul was 6.59 MasterPoints, 5.92 of them gold.

“I like it like that,” I told Christine, telling her not to worry. “You can’t always get what you want.”

“I can’t get no satisfaction,” Christine said, when she was distraught over making the wrong No-Trump bid that went Down Three. “I’m all shook up.”

“It’s all in the game,” I replied, remembering the famous Tommy Edwards song, and I added, to calm her down: “Big girls don’t cry.”

We were among very few players from outside the Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio area at the Regional, and most of the players we met were very curious why we had come so far just to go to Cleveland. “I get around,” I told them, emulating the Beach Boys.

Christine may have had her troubles Sunday evening – “ain’t that a shame!” – but she played much better in the afternoon just after getting out of the Hall of Fame. She had a real “bridge burglarette” feat on one board when she made a great sacrifice in 4 Spades that didn’t even get doubled and on which she limited the damage to Down One for a minus-100 score.

The hand was a real “thriller” because our opponents, Henry and James, two old guys from Buffalo (who bore no resemblance whatsoever to Hank Williams and Jimi Hendrix), could have set her by two tricks, which if doubled, would have inflicted a minus-500 on us. And they also missed two Games they could have made themselves in 5 Clubs and 5 Hearts, so it was a real steal for Christine, who admitted that she was only able to do it “with a little help from my friends.”

I sat North, but I got to play the board in 4 Spades, so I’ll turn the hands around and make myself South as I become Shy Shem, who at first I wasn’t really “glad all over” to be playing the hand – initially he didn’t realize what a good sacrifice his North partner Smug Sam’s bid had been. James, who will play the West hand, will become Flustered Flo because he let himself be dissuaded from bidding on by Sam’s pre-emptive raise to 4 Spades. His East partner Henry will become Flo’s partner, Loyal Larry.

The hand

East Dealer; North-South vulnerable

J 10 9 7 6
K 3 2
A 8 3
4 3
West East
8 4 A
A 9 7 6 Q 10 8 5 4
5 Q 10 9 4
A K J 10 9 5 8 7 2
K Q 5 3 2
K J 7 6 2
Q 6

The bidding

East South West North
Pass 1 2 4
All pass

Opening lead: A

How Flustered Flo played it

Flustered Flo knows that her nemesis, Smug Sam, is often a “wild thing,” but after a whole group of bridge players visited the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame during a Regional duplicate tournament in Cleveland, she didn’t realize just how wild he could be.

Flo was playing the West hand on the diagrammed deal and when Sam’s partner, Shy Shem, opened a Spade in the South seat, she had no trouble overcalling 2 Clubs.

“Stop, in the name of love,” said Sam, who sat North, as he pulled out the “stop” card and bid 4 Spades. “Call me irresponsible,” said Sam, singing the Frank Sinatra song by that name. “But I’ll do it ‘my way’.”

With his 8 high-card points, Flo’s partner, Loyal Larry, thought he could not make a bid. “Silence is golden,” he said, recalling the oldie by the Tremeloes.

Not knowing anything about her partner’s hand, Flo decided she had too many losers to attempt a 5 Clubs bid. She didn’t have “good vibrations” about her hand, so she passed, too.

Flo took her two top Clubs on the first two tricks and then took her Ace of Hearts, and continued with another Heart. She didn’t want to lead her singleton Diamond because she saw Shem had the Ace in the dummy, so she thought she’d never get a ruff back. Shem would never duck his Diamond, he thought– “that’ll be the day.”

Shem took the Heart King, drove out the trump Ace, ruffed the next Heart lead and drew out Flo’s last trump. He next pulled off the finesse on the Diamond Queen and claimed the rest. “Looks like we made it,” said Sam, as he congratulated his partner on limiting the damage to Down One. “How sweet it is!”

“Why are you so happy?” Flo asked Sam. “You did go down.”

“You could have set us by two tricks and doubled that would have been 500 points for you.”

“How?” Flo asked. “Tell me about it.”

“Why don’t you believe me baby?” Sam replied. “After taking your top Spades, you should become ‘Diamond Girl’ and lead your singleton Diamond. Then when your partner gets in with the trump Ace, he’ll lead a Diamond back to you to give you a ruff for your fifth trick. That would give you 500 points if you’d doubled me, which is the best score you can get.”

“I guess now I’m a believer,” said Flo. “And I guess I did ‘something stupid’ again, like Frank Sinatra sang with his daughter Nancy.”

“I can understand it if if you thought a double was too risky, but you could have bid Game on your own,” Sam said. “You had 5 Clubs as well as 5 Hearts. That’s why I jumped straight to 4 Spades with my weak hand. I’ll admit I wanted to shut you up.”

“Nobody does it better,” Flo admitted.

“Thank you … thank you very much,” said Sam.


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