Today, we will do a review of a book that we thoroughly enjoyed.
If you enjoy the article below, then get yourself a copy of
"Bridge My Way"
by Zia Mahmood
"The tournaments vary in length, and beginners and experts are both equally welcome and equally in evidence. The one in Juan lasts fourteen days. There are four events, the Individual, the Mixed Pairs, the Open Pairs and the Teams. You can enter as many or as few as you like.
We had arrived too late for the Individual. Let me tell you about the Mixed. For most players, a mixed pairs (with the exception of world championships) is a casual social outing. But there is still an art in doing well. Often the field is full of unbalanced partnerships with one better player (man or woman) playing under sufferance with his or her mate.
It is a mutant form of the game where the senior partner tries to hog all the hands and bids as if playing solo or cut-throat. But all the while they are trying to disguise what they are doing in order to retain their partner's dignity. It isn't easily done, which helps to explain why the Mixed can result in violent fights, tears, and shattered illusions - even broken marriages.
My idea of action during the two days of the Mixed was to browse lazily through a good book on the beach, with the occasional exercise of reaching out for a nearby cocktail. And that's exactly what I was doing when Hoffman came running up just half an hour before the start of the Mixed.
He said, "I've found you a partner for the Mixed."
"What on earth are you talking about? You know I have no intention ...."
My reply was interrupted by Martin. "Here she is."
I looked up. There are very few things that could have dragged me away from my idyllic resting-place and made me change my original plan. Monique just hapened to be one of them. With sparkling green eyes and a soft, throaty voice, Monique was almost unreal. The closest I can get to describing her is to compare the feeling one gets from picking up a ten-card suit for the first time. A mixture of fantasy fulfilled and the surge of wild expectation. All in all, she was impossible to resist.
Doubtless she couldn't play, but who would be watching her cards?
Bridge is a pure game, cerebral and intellectually satisfying. I think it is inappropriate, even disgusting, for one person to play with another simply because they find them physically attractive. But what could I do?
I admit it - I am disgusting. Anyway, Monique wasn't just attractive, she was a knockout.
Things didn't go well. In fact, the first day's game was a disaster. We were lying 180th out of a possible 190. It was caused by nervousness (Monique), bad luck and lust (me). Monique was close to tears at the end of play and rushed off. My dinner plans were ruined. I couldn't help thinking that this was no way to impress her.
Born out of the threat of frustrated romance, great ideas can sometimes emerge. So was born "Le Pique Pakistani" (the Paki Spade):
a system designed to bring the smile back to Monique's charming face and - hopefuly - the love back to my life.
The theory was simple enough. Whenever either one of us was non-vulnerable and it was our turn to open the bidding, we would call one spade - regardless of strength or distribution. Partner could be scientific and respond one notrump with a good hand of thirteen-plus points as a kind of "what have you got?" bid; or otherwise just play it by ear, trying to cause as much havoc as possible. After all, we couldn't do any worse!
We declared our system to our opponents, of course, and then JACKPOT! The element of surprise, luck, fate, whatever - I don't realy know - but good results poured in as the opponents succumbed to the devilishness of the system.
ª 6 4
A Q J 9 3
Q 9 4
7 6 3
NORTH       EAST       SOUTH       WEST
1S (1)          Pass (2)      2S (3)         Pass (4)
3H               Pass           Pass            Pass
ª K Q 10 5
A Q 8 5 4
ª A J 9 7
K 7 6
K 10 6
J 9 2
ª 8 3 2
10 5 4
A 8 7 5 2
The opponents could have made four or five spades, rather luckily, But it was difficult for them to get to four spades when not only one but BOTH opponents had bid spades. (Fifteen years later a similar but more refined method of destruction was divised in New Zealand, following its original invention in Poland. "Fert" bids were inflicted on the bridge world -
where opening bids of one diamond, one heart or one spade, depending upon vulnerability, would show 0-7 points. The "fert" moniker is an abbreviation for fertilizer, used as the bids are intended to aid the growth of good results.) Le Pique Pakistani was before its time.
The upshot was that we moved up 140 places, finishing a respectable fortieth.
Monique was delighted.
I was delighted that Monique was delighted.
And the love affair?
I suppose you could say that we celebrated our success in the usual manner.