A Bridge Phantasmagoria




We were spending New Year away from home and we were a party of eight, which was ideal for our purpose, two foursomes at golf during the day, and a team of four bridge match at night.

It had been real cold during the day, making the golf quite a trial, but we had partaken of an excellent turkey dinner and our team-of-four match was well advanced, when West in one room, complained of severe pains and had to pack it in.

Our landlord mentioned that he had a guest whom he thought did play and fortunately the stranger agreed to come in as substitute to complete the match. He took over as West and the first hand played was a mild forerunner of what was to come.

East-West game: South deals.


S Q4
H 753


S AK8532
H A82
D 108
C 105


S J97
H J9
D 97652
C 432


S 106
H KQ1064
C A87


I got to Four Hearts and our substitute won two top spades and to my surprise continued with a third, which I ruffed in dummy. The ruff and discard did me no good at all. I led a trump from dummy and guessing well, I finessed the ten. West took his ace and led a fourth spade, which East ruffed with the jack.

I was forced to overruff with the queen and now West’s eight had been promoted to winning rank and I was one down. My partner was amused at my confusion but this was as nothing compared to what was to happen to him on the last hand of the evening.

Love all: North deals.


S A8653
D 104
C K83


S Q97
H K10732
D 9862
C 2


S J2
H J54
D 75
C J109765


S K104
H 98


North opened One Spade and after a forcing Three Diamonds from South, North finished in a contract of Six Spades although Six No-trumps is preferable.

East led the jack of clubs and seeing all four hands, it is clear that the contract will be fulfilled with the greatest of ease and so it would be in normal circumstances. But consider whether or not you would have made contract in the abnormal conditions that presented themselves to the declarer.

North won the club lead and played a small spade to the king, on which the queen appeared from West. If West were fooling with doubleton queen-jack, it would not cost to make a safety play in case the queen were singleton and East had four trumps to the jack. In order to circumvent that distribution, North came to hand with the ten of diamonds and played a small spade to the ten, which play was bound to restrict the trump losers to one.

East won the jack and North got his first shock when West followed suit. The sensational turn of events sent East furiously to think, and finally, seeing the light, he returned a club. North received a second and much greater shock when West ruffed and the unbreakable contract had been well and truly fractured.

Saying that he had an early start in the morning, West rose and bade us all goodnight.

“I wonder who he is. I didn’t catch his name,” said North

“I don’t think the landlord introduced us,” said I.

“Well gentlemen,” said the landlord. “All I can tell you is that the register shows that he goes by the name of Merlin.


by Carl Dickel