Main   Almost Bridge 7F06 by Richard Pavlicek  

Rudolph Wins Again

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 Rudolph’s 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:

Board 13
Both Vul
S A K
H J 10 9 3
D 6 4
C A Q J 10 9
Slush
West

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

Randolph opened 1 C 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. “That’s the craziest bid I’ve ever heard.”

The excitement attracted a throng of kibitzers to Rudolph’s table, and they were buzzing: “He bid too much this time,” said one. “There’s no way he’ll bring this home,” whispered another. “In fact it’s 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 H 8, covered by the nine and queen, as Rudolph carefully ruffed with the D 7. Dummy was entered with a spade to lead the D 4, which held the trick as Mush played low. Next came the H 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 H J-3 and the C A. Rudolph held a trump and the C 3-2. It made no difference which cards Mush or Slush kept. If Mush blanked his H A, a heart ruff would establish the jack. If Slush did not keep two hearts, the lead of the H J from dummy would smother his spot and establish the H 3 into a winning trick.

Both defenders chose to keep two hearts so Rudolph next cashed the C A. Being a showman, or showdeer, he routinely contributed the C 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: Rudolph’s name certainly will go down in history. TopMain

© 1985 Richard Pavlicek