A Bridge Phantasmagoria




After I encountered the hand below, I imagined that Professor Moriarty held the South cards and that Sherlock Holmes occupied the West seat - the evil genius of Moriarty against the keen intellect of Holmes.

Game all: South deals


S Q106
H J54
D A10752
C 65


H KQ962
D KJ98


S 53
H 83
D Q643
C 98743


S KJ98742
H A107
D -
C AJ10


Moriarty opened One Spade and Holmes doubled to show a strong hand. North raised the ante by bidding Two Spades and East could only pass. Moriarty went straight to Four Spades duly doubled by Holmes and there the bidding ended.

Holmes led king of hearts and Moriarty took time off before playing from dummy, not because the card from dummy posed any problem, but so that when the time came he could play smoothly from his own hand. Now when East signalled with the eight he was able to play a small one from his own hand without the slightest hesitation.

Moriarty was fully aware of the impending ruff. Had he had a quick entry to dummy, a losing heart could have been thrown on the ace of diamonds but other means had to be tried. The play of the seven of hearts was indicative of Moriarty’s cunning. If Holmes could be persuaded to switch, there would be no problem and if he could be inveigled into continuing with a small heart, dummy’s jack would win and the ace of hearts could be discarded on the ace of diamonds. Such a plot might well have succeeded against a lesser mortal

Meantime, Holmes’ powers of pure reasoning were working overtime. Without the ace of hearts he concluded that Moriarty would have opened with a three bid. Why then had he refused to take the ace of hearts, which would have assured him of two heart tricks?

Diagnosing the plot, Holmes did not shift to another suit, nor did he continue with a small heart. Instead he produced the queen of hearts and that was a ‘checkmate’.

Moriarty had to win with the ace in his own hand and play a trump, his last hope being that East had a singleton trump. Holmes won and gave his partner a heart ruff and a subsequent club trick put paid to the contract.


by Carl Dickel