Main   Almost Bridge 7F50 by Richard Pavlicek  

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 final board.

Board 256
E-W Vul
S Q 5 4
H 8 7 3
D 6 4 2
C K Q 9 2
Miko
West
Pass
Pass
Blitzen
North
Pass
4 H
Sliko
East
1 NT
All Pass
Donner
South
3 H
S J 9 7 6
H
D 8 7 3
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
Table S K 10 8
H K J 4
D A K Q 9 5
C J 10
4 H South
Lead: C 5
S A 3 2
H A Q 10 9 6 5 2
D J 10
C A

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:

H win 8 S Q 5 4
H 8 3
D
C K Q 9
S J 9 7 6
H
D
C 8 7 6 4
Table S K 10 8
H K 4
D 9 5
C J
East leadsS 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 the clever play by Donner, everyone felt the deal would be a push. South at Table 2 was none other than Mush, widely regarded as best declarer in the Arctic. What they did not figure on was Rudolph.

Board 256
E-W Vul
S Q 5 4
H 8 7 3
D 6 4 2
C K Q 9 2
Randolph
West
Pass
Pass
Slush
North
Pass
4 H
Rudolph
East
1 NT
All Pass
Mush
South
3 H
S J 9 7 6
H
D 8 7 3
C 8 7 6 5 4 3
Table S K 10 8
H K J 4
D A K Q 9 5
C J 10
4 H South
Lead: C 5
S A 3 2
H A Q 10 9 6 5 2
D J 10
C A

The bidding was the same, Randolph also led a club, and Mush led the D J to Rudolph’s queen. Next came a brilliant stroke: Rudolph returned the D 9 giving Mush a free trick! Mush next led the H 6 and played low from dummy (overtaking doesn’t 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 ruling committee, claiming the only possible cause for Rudolph’s play was accidental. “He just pulled the wrong card!”

Rudolph laughed, “No, it seems I pulled the right card. I just wasted it on the wrong fur brain.”

That did it! Mush threw a punch at Rudolph, and the entire room broke into a frenzy. Hooves and antlers toppled every piece of furniture, as the Eskimos ran for their lives. Alas, poor Donner is now homeless. TopMain

© 1997 Richard Pavlicek