A Bridge Phantasmagoria
THE VARIABLE NO TRUMP
The weak |No-trump throughout has become popular in Britain, but not so on the continent. However the variable no-trump is still in use - that is 12/14 not vulnerable and 15/17 vulnerable.
Normally for material one gets hands from matches, tournaments etc. However, I happened to be in a well known Glasgow Club one Monday evening, when associate members are permitted to play in the weekly tournament to give them experience of competitive bridge. Having time to spare I decided to spectate.
I knew the gentleman sitting North to be a capable player. He was doing his Noblesse Oblige and was partnering a nervous but personable lady associate.
“What system do you play,” asked North, obviously prepared for the worst.
“I have been learning Acol,” replied the lady.
“Variable No-trumps?” queried North.
“Oh yes, certainly,” said South as she was sorting out her cards for this hand.
North-South game: South deals.
South opened 1NT and West passed. North realised that even if he used Stayman and found a heart contract, his partner would still be playing the hand, and so although he was not very keen to have a beginner play the contract with fairly minimum pointage, he felt constrained to raise to 3 NT with fears for the outcome.
West led the ten of diamonds and without much hope our lady covered with the jack and smiled gratefully when it won. A heart to the king won as did the queen but East had perforce to win the third round.
East calculated that the only hope was to find his partner with something like K109x in spades, and so he led a small spade. South played small and West won and returned the suit. East mistakenly covered the jack and our damsel, obviously perking up, won the ace. She now ran the ten of clubs, murmuring “How lucky,” when it won.
She continued with the nine and East reluctantly won the ace. Our associate South proceeded to make ten tricks on the last of which West threw the queen of diamonds.
“You didn’t have the queen of diamonds chorused North and East who could count the points.
“Obviously not,” said South primly.
“Foul,” said West who now knew that South had started with 13 points.
“We are vulnerable partner,” said North.
“I can quite understand. That means we score 630 points instead of 430 does it not?” said South, airing her knowledge.
“What I mean is that you only had 13 points for your bid,” said North, now somewhat flustered.
“I know that as well as you do,” replied South indignantly. I counted them most meticulously, and when I found I did not have enough points for a strong no-trump, I just had to open a weak one,” North and East gaped.
“A new version of the variable no-trump,” said West bitterly.