Vilamoura, Portugal 1995; Saturday, 24 June 1995
The Czar’s Game of Death by Sam Leckie
St. Petersburgs Bridge Club had a great dilemma. The Czar himself was an honorary member and he chose as his partners the best players in the club. Unfortunately, he shed them as quickly as Catherine did lovers but in his case the outcome was invariably fatal.
If matters were allowed to continue then in a few months the club would have no good bridge players left. The Committee called an Extraordinary meeting of its members to discuss the matter. It was decided that the only solution was to hire an assassin, teach him to play bridge, have the Czar accept him as a partner and then eliminate the Czar.
The plan was put into operation and over the next few months the assassin was taught night and day. Old hands were studied, intricate endings discussed and memorised. After three months he applied to the Czar to become his new partner. After a few days he received a reply telling him to report to the Palace for a playing test.
The day arrived and he reported as instructed. He was given a hand from last years European Championship which he recognised. It involved a stepping stone squeeze and he made the hand in ten seconds.
The Czar was ecstatic and announced that he would be his new partner. You can have anything you want as a gift; your own weight in goldvalues, diamonds, anything, said the Czar. Not wanting to be too greedy the assassin chose rubies.
Take him outside and shoot him, said the Czar to his guards, this man is an imposter.
As they dragged him to the door by his hair the assassin pleaded to the Czar: How did you know? What gave me away?
The Czar replied: You fool, any real redblooded bridge player would only have chosen one thing MASTER POINTS!