Join Bridge Winners
The Creative Zero

Most of us are familiar with commonplace methods of achieving zeros. Among them are: missorting one’s hand, losing a spot card, revoking, forgetting system, and straightforward lousy offence or defense. Needless to say, I have been guilty of all of the above in my bridge career. I like to think, however, that I am capable of attaining zeros on a higher level.

During the Blue Ribbon finals in Hawaii, Larry Cohen kibitzed a session. While at my table (of course he was there for just two boards; you don’t think that The Law would really sit and watch me for 26 hands straight, do you?!), Larry saw me choose this maneuver. As a passed hand, when the auction began: P – 1 – 3 – 3 I chose to bid a lead directing 4 at favorable vulnerability with chunky club spots and diamond length. When my LHO went on to 4, partner chose to save in 5. I corrected to 5 and the opponents doubled. My bid so appealed to Larry, he offered me kudos in his Bridge World write-up. Sadly, no kudos from the traveler. On a most unfortunate layout, we went for 800 against their game.

One need not be competing in a premier national event to earn creative zeros. Here’s one from a club game.

1 - P to you. I have:
8763
K10
J643
KQ9.

Many might bid 1. Not I. “8763” doesn’t look like a suit. My partnership freely raises on 3; the prospect of this opposite Qxx or some such holding lends little appeal. Unless partner has chunky spades himself, other strains seem to offer better chances. Thus, I choose a forcing NT. Partner continues with 2. For a fraction of a second I entertain a raise. Passing, however, seems more appropriate and I do.

LHO thinks a moment, then balances with 2 - and this comes around to me. While my xxxx of spades might be a hindrance to success, with all my cards working for hearts, I decide to bid on with 3. Alas. The entire hand is:

West
Q9
AQJ964
K8
1082
North
K104
85
A1075
J653
Me
8763
K10
J643
KQ9
South
AJ52
732
Q92
A74
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
P
2
P
P
2
P
P
3
P
P
P
D
3 West
NS: 0 EW: 0

In the fullness of time, 3 fails by one. Still, 2 can be made, so I hope to beat all the 110’s in the field.

110’s? Oh – there are plenty of 110’s. Sadly, though, all but two scores are 110’s my direction. One poor pair managed to defend against 3 without doubling. This E/W pair could have earned a top had they doubled. Instead, they got just one of the matchpoints. Of course, that was one more than my partner and I received.

Needless to say, on the auction: 1 - P - 1 - P - 2 - P – P balancing with AJ52, 732, Q92, A74 has far less appeal. Obviously, no other East player was as creative as I. Sigh….

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