Grasshopper on the Tournament Trail
by Matthew Kidd,
(with apologies to Arnold Lobel)
Grasshopper wanted to go on a journey.
“I will find a tournament trail,” he said.
“I will follow that trail wherever it goes.”
One morning Grasshopper found a trail.
It was long and well worn.
It had many tops and bottoms.
“This trail looks fine to me,” said Grasshopper.
“I am on my way!”
Grasshopper walked quickly along the trail.
He saw a sign on the side of a tree.
The sign said 2/1 IS BEST.
Soon Grasshopper saw another sign.
It said THREE CHEERS FOR 2/1.
Grasshopper saw a group of beetles.
They were singing and dancing.
They were carrying more signs.
“It’s a good day to play 2/1,” said Grasshopper.
“Yes,” said one of the beetles.
“It is a good day to play 2/1.
Every day is a good day to play 2/1.
The beetle carried a sign.
It said FORCE ME TO GAME PARTNER.
“This is a meeting of the We Love 2/1 Club,” said the beetle.
“Every day we get together to celebrate another session with 2/1.”
“Grasshopper, do you love 2/1?” asked the beetle.
“Oh yes,” said Grasshopper.
“Hooray!” shouted all the beetles.
“Grasshopper loves 2/1!”
“I knew it,” said the beetle.
“I could tell by your intelligent face.
You are a 2/1 lover.”
The beetles made Grasshopper a wreath of flowers.
They gave him a sign that said 2/1 IS TOPS.
“Now,” they said, “Grasshopper is in our club.”
“When does the bidding having a clue?” asked a beetle.
“When playing 2/1!” cried all the other beetles.
“What system is shiny and new?” asked
“2/1!” cried all the other beetles.
They turned somersaults and stood on their heads.
They danced and sang.
“T-W-O O-V-E-R O-N-E spells 2/1!”
“I love Standard American too,” said Grasshopper.
The beetles stopped singing and dancing.
“What did you say?” they asked.
“I said that I loved Standard American,” said Grasshopper.
All the beetles were quiet.
“And Precision is very nice,” said Grasshopper.
“Stupid,” said a beetle.
He grabbed the wreath of flowers.
“Dummy,” said another beetle.
He snatched the sign from Grasshopper.
“Anyone who loves Standard America and Precision can never, never be in our club!” said a third beetle.
“UP WITH 2/1!” shouted all the beetles.
They waved their signs and marched away.
Grasshopper was alone.
And he went down the trail.
A New House
The trail reached a hospitality table.
Grasshopper climbed to the table top.
He found a large apple at the top of a bowl.
“I will have my lunch and take care of
dinner too,” said Grasshopper.
He ate a big bite of the apple.
“Look what you did!” said a worm, who lived in
“You have made a hole in my roof!”
It is not polite to eat a person’s house,” said the worm.
“I am sorry,” said Grasshopper.
Just then the apple began to roll off the
stack and then off the table.
“Stop me! Catch me!” cried the worm.
The apple was rolling faster and faster.
“Help, my head is bumping on the walls!
My dishes are falling off the shelf!” cried the worm.
Grasshopper ran after the apple.
“Everything is a mess in here!” cried the worm.
“My bathtub is in the living room.
My bed is in the kitchen!”
Grasshopper ran across the tournament room.
But he could not catch the apple.
“I am getting dizzy,” cried the worm.
“My floor is on the ceiling!
My attic is in the cellar!”
The apple rolled and rolled.
It rolled all the way across the room,
out the door and down a hill.
The apple hit a tree.
It smashed into a hundred pieces.
“Too bad, worm,” said Grasshopper.
“Your house is gone.”
The worm climbed up the side of the tree.
“Oh, never mind,” said the worm.
“Those hospitality apples were mealy.
This is a fine time for me to find a new house.”
Grasshopper looked up into the tree.
He saw that it was filled with apples.
Grasshopper smiled, and went to the next tournament.
Grasshopper saw a cloud of eraser dust.
“Tidy, tidy, tidy,” said the housefly, who was erasing his convention card.
“My broom and I will make this convention card as perfect as can be.”
“Housefly,” said Grasshopper, “your card is not very messy.”
“It is much too fusty,” said the housefly.
“It is full of Strong Twos and Stolen Bids
and other nasty things.
My broom and I will brush them all away.”
The housefly went on sweeping.
“One day I was at home, not doing much of
anything,” said the housefly.
“I saw a small mistake on my convention card.
I went to fix it.
Next to it was another small mistake, DONT against weak notrump.
I fixed up that one, too.”
“Next to that mistake was another mistake.
I ran and got my broom.
I swept up all the mistakes in our system.
Then I saw a major problem in our carding.
Next to it was a major problem in our leading.
With my broom I swept up all these problems.
In with third and fifth leads.
In with jack denies.
In with coded nines and tens.
In with the 7 guaranteeing a singleton.
“I cleaned my convention card from top to bottom.
I even switched to revolving discards.
When I was done, I looked outside.
I saw my opponent’s card.
It was full of inferior choices.
I rushed outside with my broom.
I fixed it behind his back.”
“Down the trail there was an internet portal.
I opened the portal. It led to BBO.
All the online cards were a mess.
I hacked in and fixed them all,” said the housefly.
“You have worked very hard,” said Grasshopper.
“I think that you should rest for a while.”
“No, no, no,” said the housefly.
“I will never rest.
I am having a wonderful time.
I will sweep until every card is clean!”
The dust was getting into Grasshopper’s eyes.
So he said good-bye to the housefly, and he went on down the trail.
Grasshopper came to a puddle of water during the auction.
He was just about to Texas hop over the puddle.
“Wait!” cried a tiny voice.
Grasshopper looked down.
At the edge of the puddle was a mosquito.
He was sitting in a little Jacoby boat.
“It is a bidding rule,” said the mosquito.
“You must use this ferry boat to get across the lake.”
“But sir,” said Grasshopper, “I can easily Texas jump to the other side.”
“Rules are rules,” said the mosquito.
“Climb into my boat.”
“Your Jacoby boat is too small for my long suit,” said Grasshopper.
“Rules are rules,” said the mosquito, “You must not arrive quickly with a strong hand.”
“You must get into my boat!”
“My suit can’t fit into your boat,” said Grasshopper.
“Rules are still rules!” shouted the mosquito.
“Well then,” said Grasshopper, “there is only one
thing for me to do.”
Grasshopper picked up the boat.
“All aboard,” called the mosquito.
Grasshopper held the boat very carefully.
He stepped into the puddle.
“You are lucky to be with me on this voyage,” said the mosquito.
“I have been sailing back and forth across this lake for many years,” said the mosquito.
“I am not afraid of interference or lead directing doubles.”
Grasshopper took another step.
“I know more about bidding than anyone else
around here,” said the mosquito.
Grasshopper took one more step.
He was on the other side of the puddle.
He put the boat down into the water.
“That was a good trip,” said the mosquito.
“Now I must hurry back to the other shore to wait for new bidders.”
“Thank you,” said Grasshopper.
“Thank you very much for taking me safely across the lake.”
“I was glad to do it,” said the mosquito.
“You are a great bidding theorist, mosquito.
Let’s call it a Jacobexas Transfer.”
Grasshopper waved good-bye and kept on walking down the road.
In the late afternoon Grasshopper saw a mushroom.
It was growing in the corner of the club.
“I will rest my feet,” he said.
Grasshopper sat on the mushroom.
Two butterflies flew down.
“Grasshopper,” said the butterflies, “you will have to move.”
“Yes,” said the first butterfly.
“You are sitting on our place.
Every afternoon at this time, we fly to this mushroom.
We sit north-south for the entire session.”
“There are lots of other mushrooms,” said
“They will not do,” said the second butterfly.
“This is the mushroom we always sit on.”
Grasshopper got up.
The two butterflies sat down.
“Each and every day we do the same thing at
the same time,” said the first butterfly.
“We like it that way.”
“We wake up in the morning,” said the second butterfly.
“We scratch our heads two times
and recite our 1NT range twice.”
“Always,” said the first butterfly.
“Then we open and close our wings four times while saying the suits in order:
clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.
We fly in a circle six times.
North, East, South, and West.”
“Always,” said the butterflies in unison.
“We go to the same club early and eat the
same hospitality spread every day.”
“Always,” said the first butterfly.
“After lunch we sit on the same sunflower.
We take the same cat nap.
We have the same dream.”
“What sort of dream?” asked Grasshopper.
“We dream that we are at the club eating the mealy apples,” said the second butterfly.
“Always,” said the first butterfly.
“When we wake up, we scratch our heads two
more times and recite our 1NT range twice.”
“We fly in a circle six more times.”
“Then we come here,” said the first butterfly.
“We sit north-south on this mushroom.”
“Always,” said the second butterfly.
“Don’t you ever change anything?” asked Grasshopper.
“No, never,” said the butterflies.
“Each day is fine for us.”
“Grasshopper,” said the butterflies, “we like talking to you.
We will meet you every day at this time.
We will sit north-south on this mushroom.
You will sit right here, in the east seat.
We will tell you all about our scratching and our flying.
We will tell you all about our napping and our dreaming.
You will listen just the way you are listening now.”
“No,” said Grasshopper.
“I am sorry, but I will not be here.
I will be moving on.
I will be doing new things, going to new clubs and tournaments and playing with new partners.”
“That is too bad,” said the butterflies.
“We will miss you. Grasshopper, do you really do something different every day of your life?”
“Always,” said Grasshopper.
“Always and always!”
He said good-bye to the butterflies and walked quickly down the road.
In the evening Grasshopper walked slowly along the open trail.
He was musing about an entry-shifting squeeze.
The sun was going down.
The world was soft and quiet.
Grasshopper heard a loud sound.
ZOOM! Grasshopper heard another noise.
He saw two dragonflies in the air.
“Poor Grasshopper,” said the dragonflies.
“We are flying fast, scooping up masterpoints.
It’s the new Gold Rush.
You are only walking in Flight A/X.
That is very sad.”
“It is not sad,” said Grasshopper.
“I like to walk with the best.”
The dragonflies flew over Grasshopper’s head.
“We can see so many masterpoints from up here,” said the dragonflies.
“All you can see is that tournament trail.”
“I like this trail,” said Grasshopper.
“And I can see beautiful card play growing along the trail.”
“We are zipping and zooming, collecting gifts,” said the first
“We do not have time to look at hands.”
“I can see intrafinesses moving through the suits,” said
“We are looping and spinning,” said the second dragonfly.
“We do not have time to look at suit combinations.”
“I can see the endplay and the guard squeeze,” said Grasshopper.
“What endplay? What guard squeeze?” asked the dragonflies.
“We are dumpster diving.
There is no time to learn about endplays and guard squeezes.”
The two dragonflies raced across the sky.
Soon they were gone.
The world was quiet again.
The sky became dark.
The evening session was about to begin.
Grasshopper watched the bridge stars come out.
There’s Zia. And Sabine. High above Garozzo beamed.
He was happy to be walking slowly down the trail.