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At Griffins Club By Victor Mollo


We play quickly, for we feel that it is more dignified to make mistakes through lack of forethought than after mature deliberation.aaxx

Victor Mollo introduces us to the Griffins Club in Bridge in the Menagerie (1965), (T. Batswood Ltd , London,1990). On this present occasion, the Hideous Hog (the best player in the club), is playing with the Rueful Rabbit (perhaps the worst player in the Western Hemisphere, and certainly the luckiest) Through a series of bumbling, blustering, blundering bidding, they arrive, in the following hand, at a final contract of 7. No, that is not a typo. The contract is 7 !!! You will be spared the bidding.

To make 13 tricks, the Hog has to take 4 heart tricks, the Ace of spades, Ace, King, Queen of clubs and ruff separately with all 5 diamonds. However, the 3rd club trick is going to be ruffed!! So here‟s how the cunning and crafty old Hog goes about it.

The lead of the 10 is taken with the J. Over to the A. He then plays AKQ of hearts, discarding dummy‟s spades. He now pretends a club finesse. But he wants to make sure West doesn’t play any card that might suggest to East that something fishy is going on. So, as he leads a low club to the Q, he offers West a cigarette, thrusting the packet right into his face. Non-smoking West, disconcerted, automatically plays low, and the Q holds!!! A from dummy, followed by a low club. East, convinced by the «finesse», that his partner has the K, and wishing to hold on to his diamonds, discards a spade. The Hog wins with the King, ruffs a  in dummy, then a  with his 9. He continues to cross ruff, over-ruffing East all the way, for 13 tricks.

Of course, with correct bidding, he could have made 7 clubs or 7 no trumps, but, as he said, 7 diamonds was far more exhilarating.

Extraordinary upon extraordinary are the bridge happenings at the Griffins Club. Senior Kibitzer, Oscar the Owl, maintains a running commentary:

Curious hand. Both sides can make 4 hearts.

An unusual hand. Both the best defence and the best dummy play, it seems, consist in blocking one’s suits.

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