Bridge & Humor: Perfect Misunderstanding by Victor Mollo
On 26 September, 2015 At 16:11
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Through a misunderstanding, R.R. was left to play the next hand in 1. Forgetting that he was not playing Monaco, he made what was intended to be a transfer bid. Timothy, who did not recognise it, accepted the blame.
“Forgive me,” he pleaded. “I am not used to this high-class game. You are so indulgent.”
“How many `os’ in `smoodger’?” asked the Hideous Hog in a loud aside. Timothy, who was dealing, apparently did not hear him. After bouncing excitedly in his chair he called 2 NT. I looked into the Rabbit’s hand.
The auction was brisk and brutal. R.R. bid 3. The Toucan raised him to 6 and Papa doubled exultantly. He guessed what had happened and it gave him considerable pleasure to dot the ‘is’ and cross the ‘ts’ for the benefit of the luckless Toucan and for the amusement of the kibitzers.
“Your partner’s 3,” he purred softly, “is artificial. It is the Flint convention, and requires you to bid 3 automatically. Partner passes or alternatively bids 3, if that is his suit, and you, in turn, pass. This allows the contract to be kept to the three level on a weak hand and it ensures that the lead should run up to the strong hand. And what could have been better than that when you are thirty up?”
The Rabbit was looking embarrassed. The Toucan was visibly distressed. “You see,” cooed the Greek, “your partner may not have a diamond at all, not even a small one.” As he spoke, he led a spade.
Taut and tense, the Rabbit went up with dummy’s ace and ruffed a spade. The Q followed, and then the J. Both held. The third club took him to dummy and allowed him to ruff another spade with his remaining trump. Next came a heart to the ace and three rounds of trumps. When Papa showed out, the Rabbit shook his head ruefully. The Walrus had more trumps than dummy, and there was a heart to lose as well. It didn’t seem to matter which of the three remaining cards he played next, but the 8 was nearest his thumb, so he flicked it to the centre of the table. With nothing but trumps left, the Walrus was compelled to ruff and to lead a trump from his 10 6 into dummy’s J 7.
The Rabbit didn’t like to say anything, but he felt sure that the defence had slipped up badly. “Curious hand,” observed Oscar the Owl, “despite a 6-0 trump break, a slam is possible only in diamonds.” “So long as it is played the wrong way round,” pointed out Peregrine the Penguin. “If Timothy is declarer, Walter can upset the applecart by opening a trump.” “Why did you double, Papa?” asked the Walrus. “You only had seven points.” “Because you had six trumps, and I knew it on the bidding,” replied the Greek. “Surely you didn’t expect me to let them off?” The Walrus felt sure that there was a flaw in the argument, but for the moment he could not spot it. “I have been meaning to ask you,” said the Rabbit to the Toucan: “shall we play McKenney or Lavinthal?”
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