A Bridge Phantasmagoria
To my mind, match-pointed pairs should go by some description other than “Bridge.” Perhaps “The Inferno” would be apt. Every hand, be it 1NT or 7NT carries the same maximum score and a difference of 10 points could be crucial. Let us say that in a twelve-table tournament with a Mitchell movement, one couple gambled 3NT and with a lucky lead and everything favourable, they made 10 tricks for 430 and every other pair reached a sensible Four Spades but only scored 420. The gamblers get a maximum 22 points and their victims get a zero and all the others get 10 our of 22.
A part score can be as vital as a slam with the result that opening bids get lighter and lighter, bidding gets fiercer and fiercer and weak twos get to the farcical stage. Even some safety plays go by the board.
In team game at I.M.P. scoring a difference of 10 points is ignored and the extra trick, crucial at pairs, gains only 1 I.M.P.
Now let us get down to the nitty gritty with an extraordinary hand from match-pointed pairs.
On the day after this tournament the conversation in the club centred on this particular hand played at all tables in Four Spades.
One player complained that he got a bottom score along with one other, when West chose to lead a trump. He won in dummy and played ace and another heart. When East covered, he played low, hoping that the king would come down either now or on the third round. East won and played a second trump and he had to lose three tricks in hearts and so finished with ten tricks only.
A second player admitted that he had been exceptionally lucky, as West had led a heart that he had run round to his queen. He cashed the ace of hearts and got to hand with a diamond ruff. A heart ruff now gave twelve easy tricks and a joint top, as clearly someone else must have led a heart.
I could not resist interrupting this discussion to say that I had led a trump and despite that, declarer had done better than ten tricks. “You forgot to lead a second trump, said one. “No, I did not,” I replied. “You or your partner revoked,” said another. “No revoke,” I answered.
There was a babble of frantic talk but no one was able to see how it was possible to make more that ten tricks, if opponents led trumps twice. Before reading on why not have a go even with all hands in view?
Finally I was prevailed upon to explain, so this is how it went.
First trick, jack of spades followed by a diamond ruff. Dummy entered with king of spades and twice more in clubs for three more diamond ruffs, exhausting declarer of trumps and leaving East with the only outstanding trump in this ending.
A club to the ace is followed by a good diamond. East has to ruff and open up the heart suit. South plays small and the king is captured by the ace and a diamond and the queen of hearts give South twelve tricks.
“That is fantastic,” they chorused. Who played the hand?
“A little guy with a pinched face. Paul something or other - it could have been Daniels,” I replied jokingly.
Now for my confession. Actually I was the other idiot who led a heart. During a restless night, I dreamed up the play to make twelve tricks as a kind of alibi.
Don’t you admit that this hand deserves to come under the heading “Phantasmagoria?”