At Ghoulie we go a leaping!
Too many years ago, when I was in university my bridge friends and I used to like to play variations of the game of bridge. We played no-peek (where you had to bid without looking at your hand) and things equally silly and fun. My favorite game was Ghoulie. I understand a lot of people played a variation of Ghoulie on commuter trains in the 1970′s and 1980′s too.
On January 3rd we decided to go back to those happy days and play a Ghoulies. Cards are dealt, sorted into suits and then redealt in stacks of 5 cards, 5 cards and 3 cards around the table to produce really distributional hands.
Ghoulie as we play it is a cut-throat game – each player out for themselves. Whoever won the auction would pick one of the other players as his partner and that hand would become the dummy. Figuring out who to pick was a crucial part of the game.
I was taking the role of chief kibitizer and drink fetcher. A long-time friend, Andy Altay, was sitting West.
Andy and I went to high school together, went on to university together and sometimes played bridge together. Andy is a great partner. One time I was declarer in a grand slam and missing only one trump, the king, actually finessed into it even though the onside hand had shown out. Andy just smiled. You can’t get a better partner than that!
Bill Milgram, the master of psychology at bridge (and a professor of psychology in life) was South.
Ray loves to play ghoulie but says he isn’t all that good at it. He was sitting East.
Fred Lerner was North. This was a pretty high quality game.
I was sitting behind Bill because I knew that he would be the center of a lot of action.
Bill was sitting in first chair and had this hand.
Bill opened 1NT. This was considered a psyche not because he had a void and a singleton but because he had less than 13 high card points. After the opening bid on his right, Andy was required to bid at least 4NT. Andy bid 5♣ . Bidding 5♣ didn’t actually promise any clubs although players often had what they bid — advertising for a partner who could play a slam with them.
Fred bid 6♣ and Ray bid 7♣ . There seemed to be rather too many clubs in the deck. But Fred and Ray were probably hoping they could play opposite Andy’s clubs. At least one of them might be saving.
Now it was back to Bill. 7♠ was not out of the question with the right partner. He did have the ♦A which was probably going to take a trick against 7♣ but that was not all that much of a plus score.
What to do?
I was pretty sure that Bill would bid 7♠ and he did. The players were pretty well out of bids so this got passed out.
The complete auction was:
Which hand to pick? Who would I pick? Who would you pick?
Bill picked Fred (North). I never heard his reasoning but I am pretty sure he thought Andy’s club bid showed a real suit. If Andy didn’t want to show clubs he could have bid 4NT which didn’t show a balanced hand in this game! So now Bill had to pick between Fred and Ray, and he went with Fred. I don’t know how he made his choice but that is who he picked.
After he picked Fred, Bill had to tell everyone if he was psychic. (Remember that he only had 11 high card points not the required 13.) Now Fred could reject Bill or accept him. Rejecting him meant the only Bill score on the hand – Fred would not go either plus or minus. Accepting Bill meant that they would both get the score for the result of the hand. At this point the chosen one, Fred, would normally change places to sit opposite Bill, but since he was already North no movement was required. All he had to do was decide whether to participate in the hand with Bill.
Here is Fred’s hand
His hand does have some good features but Bill had to make a grand slam without much of a fit and with at most 16 HCP between the two hands. Fred rejected. Andy now had a chance to double and he did. He led the ♥ A and this was the deal as Bill saw it.
In fact, Fred had a super hand for Bill! Bill ruffed the heart. He had to solve one problem immediately. Should he finesse the ♠ K or play for the drop. I think at Ghoulie the finesse is a much higher percentage Bill did too. He finesse and was pleased when the finesse worked and Andy showed out. Bill had only one way to go with diamonds and when Ray showed up with the stiff queen the hand was over.
Bill had made the grand slam with 15 HCP – only in Ghoulie!
Here was the whole hand.
Did you notice that Bill can only make the grand slam with Fred as his partner?
It wasn’t long before they moved on to the next freak hand and all the other players had their chance for revenge.