I am often asked, “Do you add distribution points?”
I once asked Al Roth the same question. Now, it seems like it was a long time ago. He’s in the bridge Hall of Fame and he’s the winner of many national and international titles. But he was most celebrated for berating partners for the slimmest of errors. They came to partner him filled with joy and confidence and left deflated like 4 flat tires. During his lifetime, he had more ex-partners than Cary Grant had ex-wives.
I approached him while he was eating a corned beef sandwich at the Stage Deli. I quickly learned that he was extremely protective of food.
“Of course, you count them, you idiot!!” He roared.
He turned away, shielding what was left of the corned beef from my view.
“Why do you think God gave you short suits and a fit? So, you can see how pretty they are?”
He bit off a large chunk of his sandwich and glared at me.
“Only a schlemiel would disregard these points. Are you a schlemiel?” he yelled. “An absolute Beginner?”
Three of the waiters were pretending not to look at me. A pre-teen bus boy was laughing his head off.
“Go on, get out of here. You’re lucky your mother lets you out to play.”
I wasn’t a stranger to him. He knew I was recently promoted to be the head teacher at the Beverly Bridge Club. At the time, the Beverly was the largest bridge house in America, if not the world. I wasn’t too crushed; I knew this was typical Al Roth. As I started out, he must have realized he was somewhat over the top, even for him. He made me a peace offering.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. Take a pickle. They brought me three pickles. I can only eat two. Go ahead, take one. Your choice.”
I turned around and picked up a pickle from his plate. I started to sit down, and he roared at me again.
“Don’t sit. Go away. I don’t want to marry you. Just take your pickle and scram.”
I hope that answers the question. Since Roth and I shared a meal, I’ve talked to several luminaries like Eddie Kanter and Larry Cohen. They all agree with Roth and as it happens with me. In fact, I can’t think of any decent player who disregards distributional points with a major suit fit. So, don’t be a schlemiel.
Yes, count them!