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Rudolph’s Revenge

With last year’s cancellation of the North Pole Regional, Arctic bridge had come to a halt. Even if the Planning Committee saw fit to host another tournament, there would be no place to hold it — all of the hotels had been demolished by the fiascoes of the past. But bridge players have a will to survive; and where there’s a will there’s a way. The tourney would be held at Donner’s house!

The match of all matches would be Donner, Blitzen, Randolph and Rudolph versus their Eskimo arch rivals, Miko, Sliko, Mush and Slush. To virtually eliminate the luck factor, it was decided to play 256 boards over four days. Incredibly, the match was dead even going into the last board.

Board 256 4 H by South

E-W Vul
S Q 5 4
H 8 7 3
D 6 4 2
C K Q 9 2
S J 9 7 6
H
D 8 7 3
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
TableS K 10 8
H K J 4
D A K Q 9 5
C J 10
Lead: C 5S A 3 2
H A Q 10 9 6 5 2
D J 10
C A

West
Miko
Pass
Pass
North
Blitzen
Pass
4 H
East
Sliko
1 NT
All Pass
South
Donner
3 H

At Table 1, Donner overcame the lack of entries to dummy with amazing skill. He won Miko’s club lead and immediately led a diamond to Sliko, who continued the suit. Donner ruffed the third diamond with the H 10, then carefully led the H 6 and overtook with dummy’s seven. Wow! Sliko had to win the H J and this was the situation with East to lead:

S Q 5 4
H 8 3
D
C K Q 9
S J 9 7 6
H
D
C 8 7 6 4
TableS K 10 8
H K 4
D 9 5
C J
S A 3 2
H A Q 10 5 2
D
C

Any return would allow Donner to reach dummy. Sliko did his best by returning the H 4, but Donner made no mistake; he played the H 5 (saving the two) and won the eight in dummy. He next led the good clubs, and when Sliko ruffed the third round, he could overruff and return to dummy with the H 2.

Despite this clever display by Donner, everyone felt the deal would be a push. South at the other table was none other than Mush, widely considered to be the best declarer in the Arctic. What they did not figure on was Rudolph, who was sitting East.

At Table 2, the bidding was the same, and Randolph also led a club. Mush also tabled the D J and Rudolph won the queen. Next came a brilliant stroke: Rudolph returned the D 9 giving Mush a free trick with the 10! Surprised by this gift, Mush now led the H 6 and played low from dummy (overtaking would not work either) and Rudolph ducked! Mush was furious!

The contract could not be made. No matter what Mush tried, Rudolph’s sacrifice of a diamond trick was the killer. Mush, of course, could not stand to lose this way. He immediately called for a committee, claiming the only possible explanation of Rudolph’s play had to be accidental. “He just pulled the wrong card!”

Rudolph laughed, “No, it appears I pulled the right card; it was just wasted on the wrong fur brains.”

That did it! Mush threw a punch at Rudolph, and the entire room broke into a riot with hooves and antlers everywhere. Alas, poor Donner is now homeless.

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© 1997 Richard Pavlicek