Main Almost Bridge 7F06 by Richard Pavlicek
It was the second annual North Pole Bridge Championship and Rudolph, the famous reindeer, had returned to defend his title. He and his partner Randolph were the hottest pair on hooves, and they had a solid game going midway through the final session.
All move for the next round! As the boards arrived at Rudolphs table, he knew the moment was crucial. Board 13 in itself was ominous reindeer are superstitious and they would now face their arch rivals. Brazenly taking their seats were none other than Slush and Mush, inventors of the Eskimo Club system. Not surprisingly, the action was fast and furious:
| A K|
J 10 9 3
A Q J 10 9
| J 9 7 4 3|
8 7 6 5 4
7 5 4
| Q 10 6 5|
A K Q 2
K 8 6
|7 × South|
| 8 2|
A Q J 10 9 8 7 5 2
Randolph opened 1 and Mush overcalled 1 NT. This would have influenced the bidding of most players, but not Rudolph, who had diamonds coming out of his antlers. Seven diamonds, he said with defiance.
Double! screamed Mush when it got back to him. Thats the craziest bid Ive ever heard.
The excitement attracted a throng of kibitzers to Rudolphs table, and they were buzzing: He bid too much this time, said one. Theres no way hell bring this home, whispered another. In fact its impossible with the king of clubs offside.
But Rudolph had a magic of his own. Impossible for others only meant difficult for him. He once bid a grand off the ace of trumps, and sure enough, one of the opponents revoked in the play so the one trick he lost was transferred to his side making seven. Therefore, this grand was practically a cinch with the ace of trumps in his own hand.
Slush led the 8, covered by the nine and queen, as Rudolph carefully ruffed with the 7. Dummy was entered with a spade to lead the 4, which held the trick as Mush played low. Next came the 10, covered by the king and ruffed.
Rudolph now started leading diamonds, and I mean diamonds all but one in fact as he threw clubs from the dummy. A spade was led to the ace to reach a three-card ending.
Dummy remained with J-3 and the A. Rudolph held a trump and the 3-2. It made no difference which cards Mush or Slush kept. If Mush blanked his A, a heart ruff would establish the jack. If Slush did not keep two hearts, the lead of the J from dummy would smother his spot and establish the 3 into a winning trick.
Both defenders chose to keep two hearts so Rudolph next cashed the A. Being a showman, or showdeer, he routinely contributed the 3 so he could win the last trick with a deuce.
The kibitzers roared! The Eskimos vowed to bar reindeer from all future tournaments. As the reindeer pranced and shouted with glee, everyone was reminded once again: Rudolphs name certainly will go down in history.
© 1985 Richard Pavlicek