The Bulletin – 27 Nov 1987

The central characters in today’s hand are Karapet. Djoulikyan, the Free Armenian, who sadly admits that he is the unluckiest bridge player in the world, and the Hideous Hog, the best, player and biggest bully in Mollo ‘s fictitious Griffin Club. The hand was shown around by Karapet later, Mollo relates, as an example of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to which he was so well accustomed.aaxx

«I do not blame HH,» said Karapet magnanimously. «Forgetting with whom he was playing, he hoped to find me with the ace of diamonds in which case he could see 12 tricks. Hence Blackwood. But, of course, knowing that something, or rather everything, would go wrong, I , didn’t show my ace.

«And now,» the Armenian went on, «how do you play the hand at five diamonds? The lead is the queen of hearts. What do you do at trick two?»

Before anyone could say any Karapet resumed with a hollow laugh.

«Don’t worry. Whatever you do will be wrong. You lead a trump, but East shows out, and your queen falls to West’s ace. Back comes a spade. If you finesse, the king wins and the spade return locks you in dummy. Should you go up with the ace of spades and lead clubs in the hope of discarding your two losing spades, West will ruff on the third round of clubs.  There’s no escape.»

«As you can see,» he went on, «the contract is unbreakable unless the trumps are 3-0 and then only if East has the void and also the king ofspades. And even then, you are still home so long as West has three clubs. The odds against everything being wrong must be at least 30 to 1, and …»

«Don’t you believe it,» broke in the Hog, who had come up to join us. «The odds, though certainly in your favor, were nothing like what you suppose. Your bad luck, my friend, was that you, and not I, happened to be declarer.»

«Are you suggesting,» broke in Karapet indignantly, «that you would have made 11 tricks?»

The Hog shook his head. «No, not 11 tricks, 12, though the extra trick would be purely incidental. After that fortunate lead, I would have simply ensured my contract, which is, needle’s to say, unbeatable».

«Play,» insisted Karapet.

«Very well, I’ll dot the i’s and cross the t’s for you,» replied H.H.

«At trick two, I lead the 10 of diamonds and…»

«You happen to be in dummy,» Protested Karapet.

«On the contrary,» retorted «YOU happen to be in dummy, but I happen to be in my own hand, for I overtake the king of hearts at trick one to run the 10 of diamonds. Let East win with a bare Jack, if he has it. He can do no harm, and I shall knock out the ace of diamonds in my own time before West can lead a spade. And neither your Witch, nor any other, can do a thing about it.

«Of course,» concluded the Hog, «it’s a very different story on an opening spade lead. Fancy getting a heart! Some people have a charmed life. You lucky devil, Karapet»

As HH, walked away, Karapet stood speechless, shaking all over.