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Poetic License


In the May editorial, I inexplicably decided to announce a bridge-themed haiku contest. This momentary lapse of sanity was swiftly punished by some 150 readers who submitted more than 200 poems. Yes, some of these sadists submitted more than one. I quickly enlisted the help of fellow editors Sue Munday and Chip Dombrowski in wading through the pile (a carefully chosen word) to determine the best and worst entries. As I write this, Sue and Chip still aren’t speaking to me, but because performance reviews are just around the corner, all will be well soon. Or else.
For the purposes of scoring the entries, the editors acted as judge and jury (and sometimes executioner), and our decisions are final. No appeals. Just like the NABCs.

Let’s start with a sample of some of the better efforts. Here’s one from Jim Flint of Ashland OR:

Key card gone awry
Partner passed my queen-ask bid
Played a two-one fit.

Been there, done that, Jim. Stop whining.

The theme of bidding misunderstandings and bad judgment were popular ones, however. Here’s one from Harvey Cohen of Sagamore Hills OH:

Partner’s four club call:
Gerber or a splinter bid?
Too late to ask now.

If you’re lucky, Harvey, the Gerber response will be the same as your response to the splinter. It’s saved me plenty of times.

Pam Hudson of Hilo HI had a system to deal with potential misunderstandings:

I miss my Stop card.
My partner could always tell
Here comes a bad bid.

See? The Stop card was useful.

A distaste for system complexity compelled Paul Bluestein of Bridgeport CT to submit this one he calls “Mercy”:
Conventions galore:
Bergen, Drury, DOPI, DONT.
Have mercy. No more.

Another popular theme was that of unfortunate results or layouts. This submission from Bill Langlois of San Jose CA, which he called “Two-edged Sword,” is an example:

Preempts can be fine
But this one did not fare well.
Minus eight hundred.

Merril Harris of Dowelltown TN knows how to handle a bad hand:

“Two notrump,” she starts.
My flat hand’s points are zero.
She can play it there.

Leonard Epstein of Dallas TX relates an experience many have shared:

One spade in third seat.
Oh no, I forgot Drury.
Down four at five clubs.

Ginny Barklow of Sequim WA had this take:

I try not to flinch
when I discover my trumps
split five and zero.

Ray Adams of Turlock CA wrote about a happier outcome:

His queen beats my jack
but coup scores knave en passant.
C’est la vie, monsieur.

No doubt Ray’s haiku will be a big hit with our readers in Quebec.

Alan Levine of Massapequa NY, however, brings back the sour outlook:

Played thirteen sessions
Accumulated no points
Learning mahjong now.

George Fleeson of McLean VA had sage words of advice:

Bad things happen when
You’re a couple of points short.
Learn that lesson well.

Pay attention, overbidders. You know who you are.

Maintaining an adversarial relationship with partner was the inspiration for several submissions. Here’s one from Carol Reed of Red Bluff CA:

Once again, partner
bids and rebids my void, but
vengeance shall be mine.

Wow, ol’ Carol sounds kinda hostile. (Note to self: Bid notrump when playing with Carol.)

Alan Levine was one of the narcissists who sent in multiple entries. Here’s another one from him:

Married eighty years
without a single cross word.
Took up bridge: divorced.

Hey, if she can’t take constructive criticism at the table, ditch her.

Jim Hulseman of Los Altos CA submitted one of my personal favorites:

Former bartender
gets guidance on the right bid:
Make it a double.

Believe me, the editors each needed a double after reading all of the entries. And this is the perfect segue for revealing some of the bad entries.

Patricia Herring of Athens TX submitted this disturbing haiku:

Bid, declare, defend
Learning to trust your partner
Violence contained.

“Violence contained”?! Somebody needs a Xanax.

Lauren McCabe of Santa Cruz CA assaulted us with this:

Partner you need new?
Criticize during the play
Alone you will be.

Apparently, this is supposed to be read in the voice of ›Yoda. Fine, two can play at that game: Terrible this is.

And the worst entry comes from Robert Gaare of Kennesaw GA who forwarded this stinker:

Send to Linxwiler
Despite his protestations
He loves bridge haiku.

This transparent attempt to curry favor by including my name in the haiku was roundly rejected by all of the editors. Atrocious. (And I hate bridge haiku, just to be clear.)

As punishment, Mr. Gaare will lose half his masterpoints, and he’ll receive a copy of whatever the latest book from George Jacobs is.

Back to the good poems. The runner-up for the contest was submitted by Wendy Morrison of Silver Spring MD, a champion of haiku poetry. She calls this one “Reckless Partner”:

All those conventions
won’t save us from disaster
if you overbid.

The truth: a poor system played well is better than a good system played poorly.

The winner of the Bridge Bulletin haiku contest is Marc Rissman of The Villages FL who crafted this gem:

The love of my life
Sits across the bridge table
Bidding who knows what.

Be honest: Those of you who play with a significant other are nodding your heads in agreement, yes? Congratulations, Mr. Rissman: You will receive $25 in Bridge Bucks for your efforts. (Yes, we’re cheap. And, no, you may not ask when the next contest is.)

Wrapping up, here are some Honorable Mentions. The aforementioned Pamela Hudson sent in multiple entries including this one:

I bid like Bergen.
I play like Brother Lucius.
So why do I lose?

Benjamin Epstein of Berkeley CA confesses to a bad habit:

Looking like a slam.
Tried Blackwood with a void.
Down two off the top.

(We’re going to frame this one and send it to Steve Weinstein.)

Alan Levine offered a third haiku (really?):

Doubled redoubled.
Never thought I would be down
At the one level.

Bill Langlois also had multiple entries, including this one called “Momentary Lapse”:

Forgot to unblock.
Declarer knew what to do.
So now I’m endplayed.

Don Doolittle of Irving TX describes a nightmare:

At seven notrump
I played my singleton ace
But it was pard’s lead.

Lastly, the raunchiest entry came from runner-up Wendy Morrison with this one dubbed “That’s What Your Girlfriend Said”:

Must you always make
the same old joke when it goes
“One club” – “Could be short!”?