A Bridge Phantasmagoria




I knew from my wife’s tensed-up look that something was afoot. “Darling” she said, “I saw the duckiest little hat in town to-day. If I hadn’t needed a hat I would let it go but this one was really super.”

“Sweetheart, I replied. You seem to have about 50 hats and anyway I am rather strapped for cash at the moment.”

“Surely you could manage a little hat out of your bridge winnings,” said she. As a tactician my wife is supreme. I was now on tricky ground. To admit losing at bridge was to admit failure, and worse still, she might raise objections to my bridge expeditions. The situation called for finesse.

“Sweetheart” I said, “Let me show you some bridge hands and perhaps you will understand. Just look at this:


S J105
H 1098
D 96543
C A4


S AK64
H AQ52
D 7
C Q983


S 732
H 643
D AJ1082
C K5


S Q98
C J10762


“West was the dealer at game all and bid One Club. I passed and East called One Diamond. My partner passed and when West now bid One Spade, East actually passed.”

“Nothing very startling about that,” remarked the dearly beloved.

“Not so fast. My silly partner now protected with One No-trump and after two passes East doubled. He could not keep the bidding open but he had the gall to double. I was fixed by a stupid partner and an unpredictable opponent.”

“Well he can make six tricks,” broke in my wife, “three tricks in clubs and one in each of the other three suits.”

“Think again. He did not make six tricks, I can assure you.”

My wife looked thoughtful. “Well now,” she said. “If West leads a diamond East will play small. Your partner will win and play ace and another club. East will score three diamonds and West can discard a club and two spades. East comes through a heart and so they can make three hearts, three diamonds, two spades and two clubs for ten tricks.”

“Not quite right,” I said. “Who would play a diamond and, anyway, played that way, South can discard high hearts on the diamonds and come to a second diamond in my hand.”

“All right, you lost 800 points but your opponents can make 3NT” said she in a tone of finality.

“First of all, my sweet, the opponents cannot make 3NT on a club lead. Secondly they stopped in One Spade and thirdly we lost 1100 points. West led a small heart and my eight won. He played the ace and a small club and East won and returned a heart. West won the queen and reverted to a small spade. My partner won but that was his last trick. He tabled the jack of clubs and West took the queen and ran all his major suit winners to squeeze my partner in clubs and diamonds. He didn’t even make a diamond trick.”

“Too bad,” said my dearest one, “but we were discussing hats.”

“Just a moment pet. Here is another sample.


S 542
H 75
C J10987652


S AQ63
D 932
C A84


S KJ10987
D A87
C 3


S -
H 109632
D KJ10654


“East got to Six Spades and my partner led his King of Clubs. Declarer won and ruffed a small club in hand. Over to a trump he ruffed the other club and after drawing trumps he cashed his top hearts.”

“A strip tease,” my wife giggled.

“This is serious,” I said. “He then led the seven of diamonds and I could tell from his expression that he had meant to play the ace. My idiotic partner played the ten and I was stuck with the lead with nothing but clubs and had to give him a ruff and discard. Surely it was a simple matter to count the hand and go up with the king.”

“Poor soul” said my wife (I think she meant my partner) “You cannot win all the time.

“Darling, I haven’t finished. Only last night we were game up when my partner sitting East dealt these cards:


S AJ98
H KQ97
D 6
C A852


S KQ532
H 64
D 108
C 10943


S 1074
H AJ108
D 7432
C J7


S 6
H 532


“South bulldozed his way into Six Diamonds and I led the king of spades taken by dummy’s ace. Declarer won two top diamonds but as discards were difficult, he then played a heart to the queen. My partner took his ace and returned a spade which South ruffed. He cashed his king of hearts and returning to hand with a club he ran all his trumps to squeeze me in clubs and spades.”

“Bad luck, but it could not be helped” said my wife.

“Bad luck nothing. All he had to do is to refuse to take his ace of hearts and now declarer cannot play a second round of hearts and lose two, and I cannot be squeezed.”

“Is that all he has to do” responded by wife. “I cannot see any of my friends not taking their ace.”

“I am supposed to be playing among bridge players” I moaned.

I was about to continue my tale of woe when she interrupted. “Three disasters. What you might call a Hat Trick,” she said bitterly.

I could not but admire her ready wit. She got her hat.



by Carl Dickel