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I like everything about fish. If i come upon the opportunity I will stop and watch them swim effortlessly through water mesmerised by the spectacle. They come in a crazy selection of shapes, sizes and colours. I like to catch them, and I like to eat them. It bothers me then when poker players refer to poor players as "the fish".

I accept that there has to be a name to describe the surprise that comes with watching someone do something that certainly at first seems utterly illogical, but why pick on fish ? Personally if I have to reference the surprising choices people sometimes make I prefer "chook". To me and my country men/women this is broad slang most usually referencing a chicken.

I don't like chickens. It is not a big thing, really I am more indifferent and confused about chickens. Bruce told me a story once about a chicken that had its head cut off and lived for a further 3 months ! Apparently their head is just full of eyeball and their brain is in their neck so seems having a head is not required for them to continue to exist. Weird. I believe in evolution but how did chickens come to be ? Did they once have large claws or a sharp killer beak ? I figure an angry pack of squirrels could easily dispatch a chicken so how is it that they survived ?

Bridge players have the same issue as poker players. This week Graham (aka "The Pelican") got so completely confused about the behaviour of our opponents that he complained to me about one of them open leading the 8 of spades against a 3NT contract holding 10873. Apparently at a previous table a different opponent had found some crazy type of lead so how was it possible that he should trust this opponent to have found a normal lead ? What ? Dummy had AKJ9x of spades and sticking in the 9 provides a possible pathway to 9 tricks, given that everyone here leads 4th best and second from 4 small that didn't seem impossible to me. Blaming a prior opponent for not trusting this opponent seemed more than a bit crazy so I just said nothing at the time.

I don't stop trying to understand the chook. It feels like I am more often than not finding the wrong answer when peering into the way they think but this is probably just a bias created by thinking more about the things I get wrong than the things I get right.

A good memory is your best weapon for chook understanding. Tim Seres understood chooks better than anyone else I have seen. The second hand I ever played against him I held AKQxxx in clubs and his partner opened a strong 1NT. Suspicious about the merits of all those crazy "conventions" people play I overcalled the obvious 2C and Tim finished the auction with 3NT. I led the ace of clubs and dummy hit with Jxx club and everyone followed.

I went into the tank for a long time after trick one. I had a queen in one of the major suits so maybe if I led a small club that would set up the rest of the suit and my queen would provide a way to cash all those tricks ? Its a difficult game and eventually worn out by my efforts in trying to fathom the right answer I reluctantly tried the king of clubs. Everyone followed again. I thought a little longer and when partner showed out on the queen of clubs Tim's partner faced his hand and claimed 2 down.

It was the end of the round and a stony silence followed as we waited for the move to be called. I am not always a chook so by now I knew. Tim's partner could not contain himself. In an angry tone he demanded to know "what were you thinking about ?". I had nothing good to say and for a few moments said nothing. Cue Tim. A generous chuckle and a friendly smile came my way. "He just lost track of the number of clubs in the deck". I don't know anyone who didn't like Tim. Who knew he was once a chook ?

Be the chook people.         

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