A Bridge Phantasmagoria
THE RESULTS MERCHANT
Seat a mild phlegmatic guy behind the wheel of a car, and at times it is surprising how hidden facets of character are revealed. Seat four persons at a bridge table and the effect can be equally startling. Any similarity in my story to anyone in your bridge club may not be purely coincidental. Happy and Doc were playing Dopey and Grumpy and the cards were dealt as follows.
Love all: South deals.
On the system played, a response of Two Hearts confirmed a five card suit so that is why the heart raise was correct.
Doc led the king of diamonds and when Happy played the ten, he continued with the ace and a third, which Dopey ruffed in dummy with the nine of hearts. He then played the ace of hearts and finessed for the queen of hearts. Drawing trumps, he finessed in clubs and made eleven tricks.
Grumpy immediately fired with all guns blazing, “Who ever heard of passing in such a sequence? Where is the profit in hanging one short of game?”
“I am sorry,” replied Dopey. “I thought the idea was to bid what one thought one could make and when you did not bid game yourself, I did not fancy it. My judgement must be a bit wonky.”
Later in the tournament, this hand turned up.
Game all: Grumpy deals.
Doc did not have a double and knew it, but as the final game bid had seemed to be made reluctantly, a mild gamble seemed in order. He led the nine of diamonds and when dummy played small, Happy won the queen and switched to the ten of clubs, which was covered with the jack and king. Doc reverted to the eight of diamonds, which declarer took with the ace. Dopey cashed the ace of hearts and finessed a heart, losing to Doc’s queen, and Doc exited with a heart. Dopey finally lost a trump, two diamond tricks and three club tricks for three down and minus 800.
Dopey knew what was coming. “What in heaven’s name made you go on to Four Hearts when you had scraped the barrel to bid Two Hearts?” wailed Grumpy. “If you pass Three Hearts, we are never doubled.”
“With such a poor hand, you should have bid 1NT in the first place and I would have passed. On a diamond lead you can win the ace and make certain of the contract by losing the heart finesse. As it is, you should take the heart finesse through the doubler, or alternatively, you should play clubs to get a club ruff in my hand.”
“I thought it looked very similar to a hand I had earlier, on which I stopped in Three Hearts and made eleven tricks, and I did not want to be wrong again, but I always seem to be wrong, according to you.” Feeling slightly rebellious, he went on. “In any case, you need not tell me how I ought to play in 1NT if I had been in such a contract.”
“Can we not get on with the game,” said Doc. “Yes, let’s have some fun” said Happy.