A Bridge Phantasmagoria
CONCEIT TAKES A FALL
Noticing that my holiday resort boasted a bridge club, I was able to contact the secretary who kindly promised to fix me up with a Mr Sharp for the Saturday Match-point tournament. On arrival I asked for Mr Sharp and was taken to the card room and informed that the gentleman holding the floor was my partner to be. His remarks came across the room - “To win a competition nowadays, one needs the confident appearance, the occasional psychic bid, the deceptive discard and the unorthodox play.” My introduction stopped the flow of rhetoric and soon we had taken our places for the first board.
Game all: North deals.
West led a trump to my partner’s Six spade contract, and when dummy was exposed, he put on a show of confidence. He won in hand and played a diamond to the ace and threw a club on the queen. West won and immediately returned a club and now my partner’s three hearts melted away on the king of clubs and the two good diamonds.
“You observe the beauty of the play partner. Defenders always return the suit discard.”
“Nicely done,” I applauded.
On the very next board my partner became declarer at Four Hearts.
West led the king of clubs and my partner took the ace and cashed the ace and king of hearts and the king of spades. He next played a small spade to the ace and returned the ten. Not wishing to ruff his partner’s supposed queen, East discarded a diamond. Partner won the queen of spades, led to the ace of diamonds and played the jack of spades. East ruffed but it was too late and a losing club went away.
“You will note the sleight of hand, partner.”
“Well played,” I said, but his conceit was getting on my nerves. Luck was with us and our opponents were making every mistake in the book. Soon the following hand came along.
This time we were defending a four Spade contract and my partner at West smoothly led the queen of hearts. Dummy’s king won and the trump finesse lost to my partner. He put me on lead with the ace of clubs and a heart through from me, set the contract.
“That was the only lead to beat the contract,” began my partner.
“Let me be the second to congratulate you,” I interrupted.
“Who was the first,” he inquired.
“Let it pass,” I replied.
By the half-way stage of the tournament, I reckoned we had built up a substantial lead through plenty of luck and some ‘Sharp’ plays by my partner, whose conceit knew no bounds. I have to confess that I almost enjoyed three of the hands in the later stages.
At North-South game, South dealt this one.
South opened Four Spades and my partner at West doubled. Seeing nothing better to do, I left it in for penalties and normally the contract would go down. However Mr Sharp took it into his head to repeat a previous ploy and led the queen of hearts. Much to South’s surprise, the king won and the king of clubs was discarded. Playing as if he had seen our cards, declarer ducked twice in diamonds and made his unlikely contract with a smug smile on his face.
“The disconcerting lead was not quite so successful this time,” I remarked.
We continued to do well, however, and arrived at the last table to play against a couple whom the bush telegraph told us were our nearest rivals.
My partner, now South, arrived at 3NT on these cards.
West led the three of hearts, dummy the five, East the seven and Mr Sharp the jack. He followed with the ace and East dropped the queen, whereupon he continued with the deuce and finessed the nine. He looked really shook up when East now raked in the ten and five spade tricks put him two down.
On the remaining ultimate board my partner was once again in 3NT.
West led the jack of spades and East’s queen went to Mr Sharp’s ace. He led the ten of clubs and East won and returned the queen of diamonds and my partner played low. East continued with a small diamond and now a bit hot and bothered, my partner again played low. West won with the jack and returned a small one for East to take two more. We went one down with everyone else making eleven tricks.
It felt good when East now smirked, “To win a competition one needs the confident look, the psychic bid, the deceptive discard and the unorthodox play.”
To give my partner some credit he did hit back, saying, “I see you are learning.”
I was not all that sorry to finish second.