robert powell 1Sarasota Herald-Tribune – 29 May 1966 by Robert Powell

Mr. Pigeon was at his genial best as he sat down in the east position at the table of those two ladies from Samoset — Miss Clementine and her twin sister, Esmerelda. «Good afternoon, ladies,» he ventured smilingly. «Having a rice game?» But the point Mr. Pigeon in his genially overlooked is that having the twins as bridge opponents is about like knocking on the door of a strange castle on top of a lonely mountain in Transylvania — you never know just what might reach out and grab you.

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

Opening lead—heart eight

Clementine opened the bidding with one notrump, and Mr. Helper considered it safe to venture in with a two-heart over- call. Esmerelda, desiring to put her twin on the right path, came bounding in to the auction with a response of three clubs, and Mr. Pigeon elected to raise the ante to three hearts. Clementine had heard her partner’s three-club bid … but Clementine hadn’t come to play the dummy, so she plunged on to three notrump! Mr. Helper and Esmerelda passed, and Mr. Pigeon went into a trance while he took stock of the situation. Something, he was certain, just didn’t sound right . . . but not being able to put his finger on  the discrepancy, Mr. Pigeon also elected to pass. Mr. Helper, after much cogitation and soul-searching. made the opening lead of the eight of hearts, his fourth-best in his longest suit, and they were off and running.

Clementine wasted no time in calling dummy’s deuce of hearts, Mr. Pigeon went up with his jack, and Clementine latched on the trick with her king, then proceeded to make life miserable for the opponents by running the ace, king, queen, jack of diamonds, followed by the queen, ten of clubs. She next played her club nine, called dummy’s club jack for the overtake, then ran dummy’s king and ace of clubs.

At this point Mr. Helper claimed the remaining tricks with his ace of spades and ace, queen of hearts .. , but it was entirely too late as Clementine had made her three notrump contract with an overtrick,

«Plus 630 for you,» Mr. Pigeon conceded, «and I imagine it is a fairly flat board.»

Mr. Helper, glancing at the traveling scoreslip as Esmerelda was writing down a plus 630 for her and her twin, shook his head sadly,

«I’m sorry to say,’ Mr. Pigeon, but it’s a very frigid zero for us.»

Mr. Pigeon was startled. «A very frigid zero? Why how can that be? It’s true that Clementine took ten tricks right off the top, but so should any other declarer.»

«In three notrump, yes. But it seems that all the other north-south pairs were in five clubs doubled and going down either one trick for minus 200, or two tricks for minus 500.»

And Mr. Helper was so right! That was exactly what had happened at the other tables! Which brings us to this question: Did YOU stop to ARCH the hand before continuing on with the reading of the column? And, if so, did you come to the startling knowledge that six hearts east-west is colder than an Eskimo’s nose? If so, our heartiest kudos to you on your bridgemanship and you proved to be a lot smarter than any of the actual east-west pairs for, in nine plays of this board at a local duplicate, not a single east-west pair even reached five hearts, let alone the pianola six-heart slam.

But you must remember that this is but another of the intriguing facets which help to make bridge the utterly fascinating game that it is to so many millions of bridge buffs all over the world . . . including even the places where the nasties rule.