By Mary Ewing
In the early 70s, while driving home from a sanctioned duplicate game, my husband brought up one of the evening’s boards.
“Your one notrump response to my opening club should’ve been one heart. Knowing you had at least four hearts, I could’ve supported your suit or, though weak in hearts myself, bid one notrump. But I’m not belaboring the point. I don’t want to end up like John Bennett,” Keith added jokingly.
On Jan. 9, 1929, Myrtle and John Bennett, of Kansas City, challenged Charles and Myrna Hoffman to an evening of rubber bridge. Near midnight and losing, the Bennetts were bickering. John failed to make his four spade contract. Myrtle commented, “You’re a bum bridge player.” Enraged, John slapped her numerous times.
“Only a cur would strike a woman in front of guests,” she fumed. John said he was going to a motel and supposedly ordered Myrtle to fetch the gun he usually carried for protection. Gun in hand, she returned, marched past the Hoffmans, and shot 36-year-old John dead.
Myrtle’s murder trial began Feb. 23, 1931, and testimony ensued for 11 days. On March 6, after deliberating eight hours, the jury ruled John’s death accidental. Myrtle received John’s $30,000 life insurance, never remarried, and played bridge until her 1992 death.
Was Myrtle guilty? Read about this controversial case on the internet and form your own opinion.
When bidding, players can speak only the following: the numbers one through seven, clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, notrump, pass, double, redouble, alert, director and the phrase “skip bid.” From this limited vocabulary, conventions have and will continue to evolve each designed to enhance communication between partners.
One such convention is the “Jacoby transfer,” which I will briefly illustrate. As dealer, your partner opens one notrump. Holding at least five hearts and believing hearts will make a better contract, you respond two diamonds. This encourages partner to bid hearts which is the next suit in the game’s suit hierarchy.
On July 20, Paul Ronken and I played in the Camano Island duplicate game. Paul is a fun partner with excellent card sense. But we often disagree. I like transfers. He doesn’t. I opened one notrump on a hand. Mike Bloom bid two hearts. Paul said two spades. With maximum count, I placed the contract at four spades. At this point Paul would’ve been justified in emulating Myrtle Bennett and going for a gun. His two spade bid was a transfer saying, “Mary, bid three clubs!” With five spades between us we went down four. My failure to recognize this transfer was humbling.
Bridge at the Carl Gipson Senior Center is not an activity where violence is likely to erupt. Beginning players are needed, and our club will welcome you with open arms. Come, learn the game and get hooked!
For information, call George at 425-422-7936.