Main   Almost Bridge 7E13 by Richard Pavlicek  

Should Reindeer Be Banned?

The winter North Pole Regional is now canceled. The Eskimo hosts could not rebuild the hotel in time after the trampling it took last year when the reindeer ran amok. Tournament chair Mush Kinook announced it will be rescheduled for next summer, which he admits is a deliberate attempt to thwart reindeer attendance. Entry fees will also be raised, though the hoofed creatures have vowed to plunder and pillage if necessary to come up with the extra money.

Last year’s fiasco spawned much controversy. Mush noted that reindeer behavior for the previous year was acceptable, but they were the winners then, thanks the following infamous deal.

Mush was at the table, so I’ll let him finish the story: “The reindeer North-South reached an unusual four-heart contract after Rudolph decided to open one heart on a four-card suit. My partner, Slush McRuff, was on lead, and rather than lead a plain suit that might cost a trick, he made the expert lead of a trump. What happened next is hard to believe.”

Board 7
Both Vul
S A 8 3 2
H 10 4 3
D A 5 3
C A Q 7
Slush
West

Pass
Pass
Raymond
North

2 NT
4 H
Mush
East

Pass
All Pass
Rudolph
South
1 H
3 NT
S Q 10 6 5
H 7 6
D K J 9 7
C K 5 4
Table S J 7
H Q 9 8 2
D 8 6
C 10 9 8 6 3
4 H South
Lead: H 7
S K 9 4
H A K J 5
D Q 10 4 2
C J 2

“On the heart-seven lead Rudolph called low from dummy, I also played low, and he pulled out the jack expecting to win the trick. Alas, one of his antlers got in the way, and the heart five fell on the table instead. By the rules that was a played card, so Slush remained on lead after the unexpected trick. Slush exited with another heart, which Rudolph couldn’t help but win, then he drew the rest of my trumps.

“Meanwhile, Slush had to find two discards, choosing a club and a diamond; and Rudolph let go a club from dummy on the last trump. He then took the club finesse and led a spade to the nine, losing to the 10, as Slush exited safely with the club king. Rudolph next won the spade king and finessed the eight to bring in the rest of that suit. Left with A-x-x opposite Q-10-x in diamonds, Rudolph led a low diamond to his 10, and Slush was endplayed to give him the contract.

“What’s most incredible is that a thorough analysis of the deal by the greatest mind in bridge — and I mean Master Mouse — shows that ducking the first trick is the only way to make four hearts. Is it possible that Rudolph’s play was deliberate and not an accident? Even the most gullible Eskimo could never believe that, so the move to ban reindeer is well founded.

“Reindeer participation is a no-win situation. If they do well, they win the tournament. Otherwise, they demolish the venue.” TopMain

© 1989 Richard Pavlicek