Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

Playing with your husband – why would you ever?

Playing on BBO with Ray is completely different than playing with anyone else.  We have been discussing why.  We start a session and I say that I don’t care how we do I just want to go the whole set without talking to each other but it is completely impossible.

One thing that happens we have discovered is that when one of us is playing dummy the other person sees the perfect line (seeing all 52 cards does help) and they can’t understand why their moron spouse didn’t get it right. In general the bidding is less explosive than the dummy play even when we get it wrong.  Perhaps defence is the worst.  Here is an example of the problems on defence


  S A8654  
  H Q  
  D K62  
Irritated Spouse C K1082 Oblivious Spouse
S KQ972   S J10
H J853   H A1074
D 3   D Q1095
C A53   C Q74
  Irritating Opponent  
  S 3  
  H K962  
  D AJ874  
  C J96  

Dummy opened 1S and Irritating Opponent responded 1NT which was passed out. 

Irritated spouse started with the H8 playing attitude leads, hoping perhaps for a spade switch if it was appropriate.  Oblivious spouse won the HA and switch to the D10 and you could see (if you were sitting behind him) that irritated spouse was already unhappy about the diamond switch.  Declarer wont the DJ  and played a diamond to dummy’s DK and irritated spouse took the opportunity to throw the C3 to suggest a major suit was the right continuation to oblivious spouse.  Now declarer decided to play a club from dummy for some unknown reason.  If oblivious spouse had been awake they could have reasoned as follows declarer is known to have the HK, DAJ, they simply can’t have the CA but he was not counting. 

Irritated spouse won the CJ with CA and played the SK.   Oblivious spouse threw the SJ.  Irritated spouse had no idea what their agreement was but he thought that his partner would play the S10 from the J10 doubleton.  So he continued with the SQ crashing his partner’s SJ as declarer won the SA.  Declarer now played two rounds of diamonds as oblivious spouse won the trick.  At this point declarer cannot be prevented from taking two more tricks.  Either two clubs in dummy or a heart and a diamond in hand.

What do you think the first comment was?  "Why did you play the SQ crashing my SJ".  While it is an interesting point to discuss the carding at this moment you can see it did not affect the hand at all.  What was the second comment?  Irritating opponent saying it was a hard fought battle making both spouses more angry.  The third comment came from irritated spouse who asked why his partner had not returned a heart at trick two.  (On a heart return irritated spouse can’t return a heart anyway since the spots are against his side).

Time has passed since I first wrote this and we have played some more on BBO.  We still haven’t got through a set (not even three hands) without some comment.  We can but try.

1 Comment

Cam FrenchAugust 28th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I enjoyed how you only intimated who had said what and the reader was compelled to draw their own inferences, sort of like after partner’s hesitation. The inherent problems of partnership are experienced by all partners, be they in bridge, business or bedroom.

They are accentuated by marriage, because you can’t just leave the event, and go your separate ways. The best story ever written about this was by Betty Kaplan and called R*A*T*S*.

Betty, spouse of The Bridge World editor Edgar, explained why it was so hard to play with one’s husband. She developed a secret code that he was allowed to use to label the severity of her offence. “R” was reasonable, “A” was attractive, “T” was thoughtful and “S” was….well you will have to wait and see. Maybe I will ask Jeff Rubens for permission to reprint it. For the women, it is a soul sister; for the men an eye-opener.

Back to the issues of partnership and particularly – spouses. You take it home with you, and therein lies the difficulty. I recall some New York-based expert allegedly screaming at his beloved “and to think this is the mother of my child!”

To state the patently obvious, men have had far worse table decorum than the fairer sex.

I recall experiencing this phenomenae (the one of making abusive remarks to one’s partner) with my good friend (note, NOT spouse) Vince Oddy. One of us, rarely me if I recall correctly, would erupt in a tirade of verbal flotsam.

After one particular incident, we somehow came up with the “Miller” rule. This rule stated that the recipient of words, if they were anything but complimentary could with or without warning say “Miller” which entitled him/her to one post-game refeshment at the abuser’s cost.

Should any criticism continue, then or later, one could cite “Miller” at will, and we even agreed 5 Millers = 1 dinner. We only made it to three.

So, you can see ther merit of the “Miller Rule” is that it gags the person who feels the urge to elaborate, pontificate and otherwise denigrade the ambience. I know no bridge player who enjoys making mistakes and an equal constituency who enjoys hearing about them from their partners at the table.

There is a time and a place. Hey, if Miller doesn’t work for you, substitute facial, martini, spa treatment or gift certificate. Make it your own.

Then, you can profit from your miscreant partner’s verbal outbursts. And if that doesn’t work, do the R*A*T*S.

Worked for Betty, but I prefer to make him pay.


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