The rubber bridge world has lost one of its best and most flamboyant players; David Herman was an emaciated, elegant American lawyer who made TGRs his second home. If David wasn’t in the club, you knew he was either travelling or sick. I last saw him the day before lockdown in March. He got into a taxi and said: ‘See you soon, sweetie — when they sort out this mess.’ Alas it was not to be. I got a call in June to say he had passed away.
Cutting in at his table was always exciting as he generated so much action. Some players thought his style was too aggressive and didn’t like to play with him but I loved it. Here is a hand where he blasted game in NTs, giving the opponents no information on how to defend (see diagram).
A typical Hermie auction. It may not always work, but opening 1◆ may let the opponents into the bidding and work out how to defend — and sometimes they may even find they have a game on!
Defending against ‘concealed’ 3NT contracts is a nightmare, even for top players who have their signals sorted out. West began with the ♥Jack — do you have a plan? David certainly did. He played low from dummy and low from hand! West continued with the ♥10, now covered by the Queen, King and Ace. Two rounds of diamonds followed and it turned out that West had a diamond trick, but game was still safe with six tricks in Diamonds, two in Hearts and an Ace, and of course the powerful ♥9 provided an entry to hand to enjoy the Diamonds.
RIP Hermie. You will be missed.
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