Robert Darvas
Robert Darvas

Robert Darvas, the brilliant Hungarian player, author of «Right Through the Pack» has written a long time ago the semi-infernal story which we reproduce below. The «spark» of the author, in the service of an entertaining style, must surely be appreciated by our readers.

* * *

We had won the World Championship and the news glowingly discussed our performance. I was presented as the archetype of the player in cold blood, while my companion, Dr. Audacioux, was regarded as an example of aggressive temperament. A native of Vienna, when he lost his temper, he turned quarrelsome and cursed and replied in German.

We were celebrating our triumph and somewhat intoxicated by success and champagne, we boast bluntly.

«We are invincible -and there is no partnership worldwide who can excel us.»

«Not only on earth, Dr. Audacioux cried and with you as my partner, I dare to face the demons.»

«And I do not doubt that I would do it willingly.»

It was late when we arrived at our hotel and about to prepare to rest, we heard some strange noises in the chimney. At the same time a strong smell of sulfur filled the room. With infinite astonishment, we note that a devilish face appeared, followed by a body covered with a thick hair: was none other than Beelzebub struggling with his chains. A few seconds later appeared, Mephistopheles, very elegant in his purple velvet suit. We were shocked when Mephistopheles, addressing us, said:

«You have had the audacity to challenge us and here we are ready to take up the gauntlet.»

I was the first to react, «But we have not challenged you…» I replied shyly.

«Famous heroes when they are alone …» Beelzebub replied sarcastically. «Why you do not maintain your bluff? Or is that the value has abandoned you?»

I am ashamed to admit it, but I was sorry for our rudeness. But Dr. Audacioux, exchanging his surprise to rage, approached the demons, screaming wildly:

«Close your dingy noses, nasty monsters. By what right do you dare to say we are cowards? Ihr Schufte wretch!»

«Okay, since you do not fear us, we have only to agree the conditions. We will play a ‘rubber» and the losers must be at the service of the winners for seven years. »

«And if we refuse? I asked.

«You will be punished for your audacity. We’ll play like as if we were playing for money. You will see what is good!».

«We will play against you» interrupted Dr. Audacioux. We sat down and I gave the first hand.

Dr. Audacioux
 J 5 3
 8 4
 Q J 5
 A Q 10 9 6
Beelzebub Mephistopheles

 A K 2
 K 10
 A 10 9 7 3
 7 5 2
West North East South
 Pass  2  Pass  2NT
 Pass  3NT  The End

Beelzebub led the 6 and as Mephistopheles played the queen, I won the trick with the king. Immediately, I began to plan my game. It was impossible to fulfill the contract without resorting to a «finesse». Between the two minor suits, diamonds offered better odds, since I only needed a card (the King), while in clubs I needed to capture the King and Jack. If Mephistopheles had the diamond king, I could win five tricks in the suit and fulfill my commitment without another maneuver.

Therefore, I played a club to the ace to attack diamond from the «dummy = dead». But on the Ace of clubs, Mephistopheles threw the king. Just a moment! The contract is fulfilled. Beelzebub has had originally the fourth Jack and I just have to go back to my hand and make a «finesse» to capture and win five tricks in clubs. Calmly, I played a spade to my hand and continued with a club. Beelzebub played low, and foretasting my triumph, I played the 10: Mephistopheles, very quiet, won with the Jack, returned a heart and my contract was over …

The very cunning had guessed my plan and, because of the bidding, he knew his K was misplaced and that I would make my contract, so he devised the infernal trap where I fell like a plover. I confess that I began to respect him. His defense was truly diabolical. The second hand was colorless; in the third one the demons were vulnerable, and so we did in the fourth.

Here’s what happened in the fifth:

Dr. Audacioux
 8 4 3
 K Q 9 8 2
 6 2
 K 4 3
Beelzebub Mephistopheles

 A K 6
 7 4
 A 9 7 5
 A 9 6 5
West North East South
 1  Double
 Pass  1  Pass  2NT
 Pass  3NT  Double  The End

Beelzebub led the 8 and Mephistopheles played the 10. I was watching eight diamonds and assuming that Mephistopheles could have showed a five cards suit, I gave the trick to his partner, because he should have another diamond. At that time, Beelzebub sneezed, as he is only able to do, and some cards fell face up on the table. Although he quickly picked up his cards, I could see three hearts, the ace and two low hearts. This is mi time!!! I thought. Because my fear that Mephistopheles was the owner of A, automatically disappear. Now I could play twice that suit from my hand and win four tricks with dummy’s cards and my contract was secured.

«Thank you Beelzebub, I cried…I have already won the match».

«We’ll see… my opponent replied. Do you want to bet an extra year?».

«If you have no more than three hearts and no other diamond, I accept the bet.»

«Agreed.» Mephistopheles played the K; I played the A … and went down!

How did it happen?

As follows: When, on the second diamond round, I played the ace, Beelzebub, who had been originally a singleton in the suit dismissed his Ace of heart! Thanks to this ruse of this «flies hunter» Mephistopheles’s  Jxx, limited to two tricks «dummy» could win without losing the hand and as the Lord of the Underworld also stopped the black suits, I could not avoid to go down.

Despite my praised cold blood I could not conceal a gesture of disgust and I confess that my desire for revenge was incredible. This was the next hand:

Dr. Audacioux

Beelzebub Mephistopheles
 K J 8 2
 Q 6 3
 4 3
 Q 10 8 2

 A Q 4 3
 8 4 2
 A 10 8 2
 K 5

Our dangerous opponents reached 4:

West North East South
 1NT  2 2  3
3 Pass 4 Double
 Pass  Pass  ReDouble  The End

I led the A and when I played another diamond, Dr. Audacioux’s Jack was ruffed by Mephistopheles, who continued with the 10. I played low, so did dummy and my partner threw a small heart. Mephistopheles continued playing another trump and I took it with the ace.

«You won it because you have an excellent exit card» remarked sarcastically my adversary.

Actually, I was in a desperate situation. My partner’s discard made me see that we could not pretend a trick in the heart suit; my trumps were about to be captured, and the only hope -insufficient to frustrate the contract- was my king of clubs.

Noticing my concern, Mephistopheles continued ironically:

«If you want, you can play a club, avoiding me the need for a «finesse» or a heart to my ace-king … or a trump, if you prefer!».

I prefer to be condemn, to play any of those things!» — I exclaimed— » ¡There goes a diamond for a ruff and discard!».

Accompanying the play with a hateful whinny, Mephistopheles discarded a club from the table and ruffed in his hand. Then, he entered the «dummy» with the heart queen and left it playing the club queen, letting it run. I picked up and repeated diamond. –

«Follow neighing if you like»…I blurted out triumphant – Do you have another trump to cross my lady -» A good move » he said just a little depressed.

Beelzebub gave the cards in the next hand. My hand was not to have any illusions: Six clubs to the lady and a collection of fours and fives. Here is the auction:

West North East South
Beelzebub Dr. Audacioux Mephistopheles Me
 1  Double ReDouble  2
 4 5 5  Pass
Pass 6 Double Pass
 Pass ReDouble  Pass  Pass

At this point, De Audacious completely lost serenity and entered fully into his «German variant»: «Donnerwetter» exclaimed angrily – «Sieben Kreuz»

At the word «Kreuz» which in German means both «cross» and «club» -the demons, abruptly disappeared up the chimney. We won by default. But none of us bothered to collect the bet. »