Larry McCaffery.

Re-Double or Nothing


Larry McCaffery

E Dealer
Both vulnerable




(DeMan) JXX
W   E






2S* 3NT** X*** 7 clubs (!)****
X***** P P X-X-X-X (!)******
P P P  

*Aryan 2-bid (strong, forcing to game)

**Shows either both minor suits or one long minor suit

***Positive response (at least 6 high card points)

****(Loosely translated) Fuck you, Eichmann! I’m willing to bet you don’t have the balls to lead a spade

*****(Loosely translated) To the showers, Yid!

******Re-redouble [Note: since the stakes were already doubled, this redouble was in effect a re-redouble] or, You’re the one who is going to be taken to the cleaners!

Opening lead: K of hearts.

Raymond Federman’s compulsive gambling has been well documented, both by his friends and his own fictionalized accounts (most notably in Double or Nothing , Amer Eldorado, and Take It or Leave It); less well-known is Federman’s lifelong addiction to bridge, a game he first learned on board the U.S. Jumper in 1947 during his passage to America. Federman’s fascination with bridge had its roots of course in gambling, but he was also intrigued by the semiotics of bidding, particularly the ability of brdige players to use bids to lie about or fictionalize their holdings, or to introduce chaos into the bidding. The above hand comes from the famous rubber-bridge show-down match during the 1963 Far East Bridge Championships between Federman and McCaffery–who were playing the first postmodern bidding system devised by McCaffery–and long-time rivals and personal enemies, Adolph Eichman and Paul De Man.

The two partnerships had been playing steadily for two days, with Eichman and DeMan, who had drawn by far the better cards up to this point, being comfortably ahead; with the agreed time limit about to expire, Eichmann leaned across the table, wiped his greasy chin and suggested in his thick German accent that he and DeMan would be willing to double the bet on the last rubber. This was just the opening which Federman and McCaffery had been waiting for; "Sure," rejoined Federman calmly in his incredibly thick French accent. "In fact, McCaffery and I were hoping you two might be talked into showing us some mercy and giving us a chance to get back in the game." The stakes, already enormous, were settled, and the two pairs began the last rubber. Both pairs had managed to bid and make game, and when the final decisive hand shown above .was dealt, the tension in the smoke-filled room was palpable

The bidding proceeded as described above and needs some explanation. McCaffery’s 3NT overcall of Eichamnn’s Aryan 2 bid was born of quiet desperation but did far more in this case than creating chaos. When it came time for Federman to bid, he looked over his hand and–despite holding two certain losers in the suit of his opponent’s strong 2 bid–calmly announced, bilingually, in French and English, "Okay, Eich, let’s see what you’re really made of–I bid 7 clubs!"

There was little that irritated Eichmann could do in the face of such madness; expecting to reap a profit of 500 or 700 and move on to the next hand, he icily doubled. But when the bid reverted to Federman he unexpectedly announced, RE-DOUBLE!–a bid which was at once a suicidal gesture, a defiant out-cry of the disappossed, a lie, a brilliant conceived "mis-use" of the codes of bidding, and a desperate gamble which Federman hoped might enable him to recoup all the earlier losses he had suffered.

Eichmann was now on lead, and for the first time during the long match, sweat stains began to seep through his starched black SS uniform. Not surprisngly, his choice was the K of hearts; a few moments later, he and DeMan were reaching for their checkbooks. It required a long reach indeed.

mccaffery on federman

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