A Bridge Phantasmagoria




Playing with Bill Fraser in a match-pointed pairs, we came to a table in which were ensconced two little old ladies in their favourite seats. Bill, always the gentleman, greeted them, “good evening” which seemed to please them.

One of them replied, “it’s nice to meet someone with some social graces. Some members treat you as if you didn’t exist. I also like to see members with jacket and tie and not a grubby T-shirt like some others in this club. I hope you will not be too hard on us,” she concluded as we reached for the cards in the first of two boards.

Game all: South deals


S Q52
H K74
D 105
C KQJ102


S 1084
H Q98
D Q7632
C A8


S J973
H J106
C 654


H A532
D K94
C 973


The lady playing South showed signs of distress. Actually she knew she was under-strength for 1NT but she did so hate bidding a weak suit. At last greatly daring, she opened 1NT and little old lady at North had no difficulty at all in raising to 3NT.

Bill opened the three of diamonds and I won the ace and returned the jack, and the old dear took the king and attacked clubs. Bill won the ace and continued with the two of diamonds. When I played the eight, she won with the nine saying “have I really won a trick?” On being assured that she had she then said, “I now make eleven tricks and we had to concede that the claim was good, while Bill gave me a rueful look.

As you well know, the correct play by South was of course to duck the jack of diamonds and hope that the player with the club ace did not have the diamonds. Bill had made the proper assumption that South must have either a doubleton diamond or four to the king nine. In the latter case, there was no defence but in the former, a small diamond must be led to avoid blocking the suit. We mentally marked down a bottom and reached for the next board.

East-West game: East deals


S 8763
H K8653
D 64
C A6


S Q1095
H J4
C J2


H A107
D 1075
C K543


S 42
H Q92
D A83
C Q10987


Playing weak no-trump, I opened One Club with the East cards. “Do you play the Prepared Club?” South wrongly asked me instead of my partner, making it very clear to me that she had very good clubs. “It has been known,” I replied.

Bill replied One Diamond and raised my 1NT rebid to 2NT, which I passed in a hurry, knowing that the clubs were stacked. The old dear at South led the ten of clubs and her partner won the ace and switched to the five of hearts. I had to play small lest I lose four heart tricks. South won the queen and looking daggers she tabled the queen of clubs. I had to go one down on what seemed an easy contract.

“How often dear have I to tell you that the ten need not be the top of nothing. You nearly let them make it,” complained South.

“So sorry dear,” said North. “I really will try not to forget next time.

I thought bitterly, “These little old ladies always seem to do this to me.”

North’s ‘mistaken’ switch to hearts was the only defence to defeat my contract.


by Carl Dickel