Main   Almost Bridge 7E10 by Richard Pavlicek  

North Pole Hotel Demolished

I just got back from the North Pole Regional, which finished sooner than scheduled when a reindeer stampede demolished the host hotel. The calamity might have been forewarned by triskaidekaphobia, as it immediately followed the Eskimo-reindeer encounter on Board 13.

The top Eskimo pair, Mush and Slush, were playing against a weak reindeer pair, Ralph and Ronald. Mush, North, opened one notrump, and Slush responded two clubs Stayman… or so he thought. The language barrier has always been a problem at this tournament, and the rules committee decreed that all bids must be made in the language of one’s opponents. Unfortunately, Slush did not speak fluent reindeer, and his bid was misinterpreted.

When Mush passed the “Stayman bid,” Slush knew something was awry and asked for a review of the bidding. Ralph cheerfully stated that it went, “One notrump, pass, seven clubs, all pass.”

Board 13
Both Vul
S A Q 3 2
H 5 4 3
D A Q 3
C A J 9
Ralph
West

Pass
Mush
North
1 NT
Pass
Ronald
East
Pass
Pass
Slush
South
7 C
S K J 6
H 9 8 7
D K J 6
C Q 10 8 7
Table S 7 5 4
H K J 6
D 7 5 4
C 6 5 4 3
7 C South
Lead: H 9
S 10 9 8
H A Q 10 2
D 10 9 8 2
C K 2

“Director!” shouted Slush. Moments later the tournament director arrived and Slush explained the problem. The director thumbed through his rulebook, as Slush annoyingly persisted, “I want a ruling!”

“Hold your horses,” warned the director, “or you’ll get a Zero Tolerance penalty as well.” Immediately he closed the rulebook and announced, “The bid stands! Contract is seven clubs!” A later examination of the laws discovered no such rule, but director Rudolph Blitzen affirmed, “My decision was impartial and not prejudiced against low-life Eskimos.”

Slush reluctantly agreed to play out the hand. Ralph led the heart nine, won by the 10 as East played low, then Slush led the diamond 10; jack, queen. A heart was led to the queen, then came the spade 10; jack, queen. Another heart to the ace was followed by the diamond nine and spade nine, both of which won!

Slushed with success, South led the club two to dummy’s nine. It won! He cashed the diamond ace, spade ace, and then ruffed dummy’s last spade with his club king, as both reindeer were obliged to underruff. Dummy won the last two tricks with the ace-jack of clubs over West’s queen. Seven clubs, bid and made! On a three-two trump fit!

Word spread quickly. The floor trembled, then splintered, as the hoofed creatures began to run amok. The hotel was trampled to rubble, and dozens were hospitalized. Luckily, I escaped with only a bruise from a hoofprint on my right arm. TopMain

© 1988 Richard Pavlicek