Mark Horton

The Green Monster

The Green Monster,  is the nickname of the thirty-seven-foot, two-inch (11.3 m) left field wall at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team; the highest among Major League Baseball fields. Part of the original ballpark construction of 1912, the wall is made of wood, but was covered in tin and concrete in 1934, and then hard plastic in 1976. Despite the name, the Green Monster was not painted green until 1947; before that it was covered with advertisements. ’m mentioning this because when in Boston I braved the elements to walk over to Fenway Park and take a look at the Monster. I guess it was no surprise when the boards in our subsequent Senior KO match proved to be every bit as dramatic as some of the games that have graced the legendary field of play. As you follow the action, you will see a classic combination of some of the best and worst in bridge, including a few (see if you can spot them) baseball terms – plus you might care to decide who present with what I will call the ‘Bill Buckner Award’ for the most disastrous play of the match. (For non Bostonians in 1986, the Boston Red Sox faced the New York Mets in Game 6 of the World Series. Boston led the best-of-7 series 3 games to 2, and had a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning. New York came back to tie the game with three straight singles off Calvin Schiraldi and a wild pitch by pitcher Bob Stanley. Mookie Wilson fouled off several pitches before hitting a ground ball to Buckner at first base. The ball rolled under Buckner’s glove, through his legs, and into right field, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run, forcing a seventh game, which the Mets won.) Before I move to the main event try this little brain teaser: With plenty of entries how do you play J94 opposite K873 for three tricks? Okay, I start with a real ‘Monster’ of a hand: (I have rotated some of the deals)

Dealer: West Vul: All North
A K J 8 7 6 3
A K Q 8
West East
-K Q 6 4 9 8
10 5 9
J 10 5 9 6 2
A J 9 7 K Q 10 8 6 5 2
10 7 5 3 2
Q 4 2
7 4 2
4 3
West North East South
Boyd Alder Robinson Horton
1 Dble 4 Pass
Pass 5 All Pass

In retrospect I think South should raise to 6 , hoping that the queen of hearts will be enough. Assuming North is unwilling to take a gamble and bid a direct 6 , another approach is to continue with 5 . Then South has a relatively easy bid of 5 , which will come as a pleasant surprise to North.

West North East South
Kendrick Woolsey van Cleeff Stewart
1 Dbl 3 Pass
Pass 6 All Pass

There was not quite enough interference here and the extra space made life very easy for North/South, who put their team on the scoreboard to the tune of 13 IMPs. Soon afterwards someone was caught stealing:

Dealer: East Vul: East/West North
10 6
Q J 4 3
Q J 9 6
K Q 2
West East
9 Q J 8 5 4 3 2
A K 10 8 6 7 5
10 8 7 2 5
A J 3 9 6 4
A K 7
9 2
A K 4 3
10 8 7 5
West North East South
Boyd Alder Robinson Horton
Pass 1NT
2 * Dbl* All Pass

Two Hearts was hearts and usually a minor. When North made a card showing double East mysteriously passed, and the combination of four prime cards and the vulnerability made it easy for South to pass. North led the king of clubs and declarer erred significantly by ducking. Now North switched to a trump and declarer was booked for -800. In the other room North/South had an easy time in the regulation game of 3NT but that only served to hold the loss to 9 IMPs. Up next was a potential grand slam:

Dealer: South Vul: North/South North
5 4
A Q 10 5
A K 4
A 9 7 2
West East
K Q J 10 6 3 9 8 7
7 3 8 6 4 2
Q 8 6 5 2 10 9 3
J 5 4
A 2
K J 9
J 7
K Q 10 8 6 3
West North East South
Boyd Alder Robinson Horton
2 3 * Pass 3NT
Pass 4 Pass 4 *
Pass 5 Pass 6
All Pass

With some partners I have an arrangement that 4 is Keycard in clubs, but that was not the case here. If I had bid 5 on the way to the slam North would have taken his chances in 7 , hoping to find either the queen of clubs or the jack of hearts in the South hand.

West North East South
Kendrick Woolsey van Cleeff Stewart
4 6 All Pass

David Kendrick, our team’s designated hitter, gave North no room to maneuver so there was no swing.

Dealer: West Vul: East/West North
Q 9 8 5 4
A J 10 9 5 3
J 6
West East
A J 10 2 K 6
8 4 2
9 7 5 3 A K Q J 10
A Q 8 4 2 9 7 5
7 3
K Q 7 6
8 6 4 2
K 10 3
West North East South
Boyd Alder Robinson Horton
1 2 * 2 * 3
5 All Pass

Over North’s cue bid East was able to show a hand with diamonds, but with such poor trumps West was unwilling to do more than jump to game. Five Diamonds was easy enough, especially as North was almost certain to hold the queen of spades.

West North East South
Kendrick Woolsey van Cleeff Stewart
1 2 * 2 * 3
3 * 4 5 Pass
5 Pass 6 All Pass

The East/West auction covered all the bases. South led the king of hearts and declarer ruffed and then went into the tank (he took such a long time that the other three players considered making a call to the Bullpen. Eventually he advanced the jack of spades and when North played low so did declarer. A diamond to the ace made it clear that the club finesse would be needed, so declarer took it. When the queen of clubs held he simply ducked a club and was soon able to claim his contract and 13 IMPs. When you are a team of five it can be difficult to decide who should play, but I am generally the player to be named later.

Dealer: South Vul: East/West North
K J 4 2
Q 7 4 3
J 10 6 3
West East
10 6 5 3 A Q 8 7
K 5 A J 10 9 2
9 6 4 3
9 8 7 2 K 5 4
8 6
A K Q J 10 8 7 2
West North East South
Horton Woolsey Alder Stewart
Pass 1dx* Pass 3NT
All Pass

As an aside, it’s a good idea to have a bid to show a two suiter after a strong club and a negative response – one easy method is to use double for the majors and 1NT for the minors. Naturally we had forgotten to discuss this situation. West led the three of spades and when declarer called for the king East won with the ace. It was clear that South’s bid was based on a long diamond suit. A heart switch is the only real hope for the defence, and here it would have been very easy for West to switch to the ten of spades when in with the king of hearts. East’s decision to exit with a diamond turned out badly, as declarer claimed his contract. I guess East may eventually be charged with an error.

West North East South
Boyd van Cleeff Robinson Kendrick
Pass 2NT Pass 3NT
All Pass

South’s Acol style strong two in diamonds saw North make a negative response of 2NT. That meant he was declarer in 3NT and there was no longer any defence.

Dealer: South Vul: None North
K 9 8 7 6 4 2
J 8 7 3
West East
Q J 6 5 10 9 8
5 10 3
A Q J 7 6 2 10 9 5 3
A Q K 10 6 5
A K 7 4 2
8 4
9 4 2
West North East South
Robinson Horton Boyd Helman
2 2 4 4
5 5 All Pass

When our pinch hitter, Rabbi Helman, raised to game, North foolishly went on over Five Diamonds, a contract that would easily have been defeated by a spade lead. I’ll come back to the play in a moment.

West North East South
Kendrick Woolsey van Cleeff Stewart
1NT 2 Pass 3
Pass 4 All Pass

East led a diamond and West won and switched to clubs, playing the ace and then the queen. When East failed to overtake and give his partner a ruff declarer could establish a third spade trick and get rid of his club losers. (The theme is similar to a famous defence where Garozzo switched to a spade from KQ and Forquet, holding Axx overtook the queen and gave his partner an essential ruff.)With AQx, West should not play the queen on the second round, so when he does it must be because he started with AQ alone. The same mistake was made at the other table, but that was still a game swing to the easy winners of the match. Before I sign off here is the solution to the question I posed at the beginning. With plenty of entries how do you play J94 opposite K873 for three tricks? Well, you could take the miniscule chance of running the jack, hoping to pin a singleton ten on your left. An alternative is to play low to the jack. If that holds you play one back to the king and then exit with a third round, hoping the queen and ace (as they surely will) appear on this trick. Impossible do I here you say? Well, ask Brian Senior, who I watched bring off this coup as dummy a year or two ago!

Interference An infraction where a person illegally changes the course of play from what is expected.

Regulation game A game that ends after nine or more innings with one team winning, or a game called by the umpire after at least five innings have been completed.

Caught stealing A runner is charged, and the fielders involved are credited, with a time when the runner attempts to advance or lead off from one base to another without the ball being batted and then is tagged out by a fielder while making the attempt. A time caught stealing can not be charged to a batter-runner, that is, a runner who is still advancing as the direct result of reaching base. Grand Slam A home run hit with all the bases occupied, thereby scoring 4 runs.

Designated Hitter Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, that allows teams to designate a player, known as the designated hitter to bat in place of the pitcher.

Cover bases Part of the infielders’ job is to stand next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball thrown from another fielder, so that they may make a play on an opposing baserunner who is approaching that base.

Bullpen The area where relief pitchers warm-up before entering a game.

Player to be named later The player to be named later is generally used to postpone a trade’s final conditions or terms. In 1962, when Harry Chiti was traded to the New York Mets from the Cleveland Indians for a PTBNL, and the teams could not agree on a final deal within the six-month timeframe, the PTBNL was, oddly enough, Harry Chiti.

Error A fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to reach one or more additional bases, when such an advance should have been prevented given ordinary effort by the fielder.

Pinch hitter A substitute batter.

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