A Bridge Phantasmagoria
DI MASCHIO HITS NEW YORK
Dino Di Maschio had decided to extend his nefarious activities into the Big Apple and had booked rooms in the Regency for himself and his bodyguards. After dinner, accompanied by his henchmen and still drawing on a monster cigar, he made for the lounge where his eagle eye spotted four men at a card table.
A piece of the action had strong appeal. “Any objections to me cutting in? Is it stud or straight?” he queried. “I believe you are under a misapprehension. This is a bridge game,” replied one player coldly. “That’s OK by me, I’ve played that game before,” said Dino as if to brook no refusal. Eyeing the two immense hoodlums with some apprehension the South player, Frank by name, rose hurriedly to his feet saying, “Take my place. I enjoy watching.” “Thanks pal,” said Dino, grabbing the cards to start a rubber. “What are the stakes?” “We play a dollar a hundred,” he was told. “This sure is big time,” said Di Maschio with heavy sarcasm as he dealt the first hand.
Love all: South deals
“He is a gambler all right,” thought Frank, sitting South-East, and so able to see three hands after the lead of a diamond. Frank calculated two down after the expected safety play in trumps of small to the jack. There were also two diamond losers and one club to lose. Dino ruffed the third diamond and laid down the ace of hearts, apparently oblivious to the safety play against four to the queen with West.
A small trump to the jack was followed by the ace and king of spades and a spade ruff. Then came the ace and king of clubs and a second spade ruff and the king of trumps was taken for a tenth trick. When Dino exited on a club, West had to suffer the indignity of ruffing his partner’s winner.
“The disappearing club trick,” remarked Dino with a wide grin.
Some uninteresting hands followed and the score was game all when Di Maschio once again became the dealer.
When Dino opened One Spade, Frank concluded that he must be playing old-fashioned Culbertson in which system 2 and a half honour tricks was the criterion for an opening bid. The hand had eight losers and a horrible rebid of Two Spades over a response at the two level. Luckily the problem never arose as North gave a simple raise to Two Spades. If East must bid at all, Three Clubs is probably best but as a double on their methods showed hearts, he opted for the take-out double.
Dino passed with unseemly haste and West had a problem. Three Clubs was pusillanimous and Four Clubs over the top. He gave 2NT a thought but finally decided to pass for penalties and led the queen of clubs.
West’s pass was ominous even for a gangster. A small trump to the queen would cost three tricks if West had them all, whereas small to the nine would only cost two. It came to Frank in a flash that if Dino were to lead the king of spades and later finessed the nine, he would lose only one trump. Could Dino rise to such heights of brilliancy? Actually he did not have to.
Dino’s play at trick one surprised everyone. He tabled the two of clubs. Hardly pausing for breath, West switched to ace and another spade to cut down club ruffs. Dino now wrapped up his doubled contract by discarding a heart on the ace of clubs and then ruffing a heart in dummy.
“I kinda reckoned you guys could play trumps a whole lot better than me,” he drawled laconically and the opponents could only gape and score up the rubber.
Dull hands ensued until it came to game all once again with South the dealer.
“One Diamond,” quoth Dino, and after a pass from West, North called “Four Hearts” in a faint tone of finality, as he was anxious to get off to bed. Maybe Dino did not suss the intonation because he now announced “7NT.” West could not believe his ears. Surely the gangster had misread North’s bid as strength-showing. Despite the menacing appearance of the two hoods, he bravely emitted “Double.” That ended the auction.
West made his second mistake when he led the ten of clubs. This increased Dino’s winners from ten to eleven and gathering in the queen of clubs, he turned to West saying, “You talk too much.”
Once again Di Maschio surprised everyone by cashing his two black aces, leaving West to gaze at his three kings, two of which were high, at least for the moment. An avalanche of hearts followed and all were down to four cards: -
East had cleverly held on to his diamonds not to give the show away in that department. On the two of hearts, East threw the jack of spades and Dino the nine of diamonds and West was in dire trouble. He was well aware that if he let go one of his kings he would be squeezed again and so in desperation, he discarded the ten of diamonds. However Dino had sensed the extreme anguish emanating on his left and led a diamond to the ace, to fell the king to fulfil the grand slam.
“A double Vienna Coup and a repeating squeeze is a rarity,” said a rueful West to Dino. “What’ya know, is that what I jus’ done?” and turning to his henchmen, he told them, “I jus’ wasted three kings with one shot.” “Jees boss, that sure is sumpin’,” they chorused.
The scores were totted up and West and East agreed that they were 36 dollars in the red and announced that they had had enough, much to Dino’s disgust.“You guys ever play poker?” quizzed Dino. They smartly denied that they had any such proclivities and wished him “Goodnight” while saying “Good-bye” under their breaths.