Page 0039

The language


of bridge II

Simon Cochemé looks across the Channel

to see what the French have to say

Simon Cochemé

THE English like to sprinkle their conver- spilt milk, but no, the literal translation of

sation and writing with French expressions; crème renversée is cream caramel! I am

they think the inclusion of a bon mot or two tempted to follow the French on this one, Here is a famous deal, played in 1936 and

adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Of course, one and the next time my partner makes an featuring the great French player Pierre

can overdo it. To write: ‘He exhibited his unsuccessful sacrifice I will describe it as a Albarran. Albarran’s ace-showing respons-

usual savoir-faire and sang-froid by elimi- rhubarb crumble or a gooseberry fool. es to a strong 2® are still widely used in

nating clubs en route to a coup de grâce in Most people play that, when your France. He is also credited with inventing

spades,’ might be considered de trop. partner’s opening bid has been doubled, a canapé which, you gourmets will be disap-

What about French phrases that apply jump to 2NT shows a good raise to three pointed to learn, means bidding your

directly to bridge? Well, here are a few of your partner’s suit. The English don’t shorter suit before your longer.

you should avoid: carte blanche is not have a name for it, but in France it is called Dick Frey’s 1NT was 16-18 and Ely

French for a Yarborough, a cri du coeur is Truscott. I asked Alan Truscott about this a Culbertson’s 4NT was quantitative. The

not a signal in hearts, and force majeure few years ago and he told me that he t9 was led and Frey could count nine top

does not date back to the days when the hadn’t invented the convention, but that it tricks. Setting up a club seemed a good

French played strong twos in hearts and had been popularised in France by an route to a tenth, with the 3-3 spade break

spades. article of his. If you ever play bridge in in reserve, so Frey immediately ran the

But seriously, I hear you cry, have the France you may need to know that their ®9. Albarran ducked smoothly and Frey

French got any interesting bridge expres- word for transfer is Texas, but you will be decided to go for an overtrick by playing

sions? Yes, they have. There is en passant, at home, if a little confused, when they use the ®10. Whoops! One down and an

but that has come to us from chess. When jumper interchangeably with sauter for a expensive faux pas. Guy Levé’s Encyclo-

the French are in a doubled contract they jump bid. paedia of Card Play Techniques tells me

say jouer batonné (under the cosh?) and, Your French partner may seem a little that this is an Al Capone Coup.

instead of our rather clumsy ‘ruff with rude when you lay down your hand as The French have names for the kings,

your natural trump trick’, they say couper dummy. If he says Damn, don't take offence, queens and jacks, and these are occasion-

avec son argent. I also like passe Blanche- just play the queen. And if he says Ass or ally used in erudite bridge articles. The

Neige, where you pass the opponents in a Pity, play the ace or the smallest card. kings are David (from the Bible), Charles

failing contract in the hope that partner (after Charlemagne), Caesar (Julius), and

will reopen with a double. Alexander (the Great). A bit of a mixed bag,

Where an English player might accuse Game All. Dealer South. but I suppose it would be a bit silly if they

his (male) partner of hogging the con- ´ A86 were all called Louis.

tracts, a Frenchman would show his chau- ™ KJ7 Their queens are Pallas, Judith, Rachel

vinistic side and say: ‘Tu joues en mixte?’ I t KQ4 and Argine (an anagram of Regina). The

say chauvinistic, but maybe they are right. ® Q876 jacks are known as valets, much less dis-

Maybe men do play more than their share ´ J 10 7 ´ 432 paraging than jacks or knaves in English,

of contracts when partnering women. We ™ 9862 N ™ 10 5 4 and are called Ogier, La Hire, Hector and


have a right to know. I will investigate and t 98762 S t 53 Lancelot.

get back to you. ® 3 ® AKJ42 Talking of kings and queens, the French

I remember being surprised when I ´ KQ95 say mariage de trèfle, coeur, etc. when hold-

learned that the word ‘finesse’ was not bor- ™ AQ3 ing the king-queen of a suit and petit

rowed from the French; they say impasse (as t A J 10 mariage when holding the queen-jack. I

do the Germans, the Norwegians and many ® 10 9 5 haven’t checked, but no doubt they say

others). What an inappropriate word to use, partenariat civil for king-jack, and ménage

it sounds like a cul de sac. à trois for king-queen-jack. r

The most puzzling of French expres- West North East South

sions is their phrase for a phantom Venizelos Culbertson Albarran Frey

When you have finished reading

sacrifice – crème renversée. My first thought 1NT this magazine, please recycle it.

was that this might be their equivalent of Pass 4NT All Pass February 2011 English Bridge 39


  1. Issue 233
  2. Page 0002
  3. Page 0003
  4. Page 0004
  5. Page 0005
  6. Page 0006
  7. Page 0007
  8. Page 0008
  9. Page 0009
  10. Page 0010
  11. Page 0011
  12. Page 0012
  13. Page 0013
  14. Page 0014
  15. Page 0015
  16. Page 0016
  17. Page 0017
  18. Page 0018
  19. Page 0019
  20. Page 0020
  21. Page 0021
  22. Page 0022
  23. Page 0023
  24. Page 0024
  25. Page 0025
  26. Page 0026
  27. Page 0027
  28. Page 0028
  29. Page 0029
  30. Page 0030
  31. Page 0031
  32. Page 0032
  33. Page 0033
  34. Page 0034
  35. Page 0035
  36. Page 0036
  37. Page 0037
  38. Page 0038
  39. Page 0039
  40. Page 0040
  41. Page 0041
  42. Page 0042
  43. Page 0043
  44. Page 0044
  45. Page 0045
  46. Page 0046
  47. Page 0047
  48. Page 0048
  49. Page 0049
  50. Page 0050
  51. Page 0051
  52. Page 0052
  53. Page 0053
  54. Page 0054
  55. Page 0055
  56. Page 0056