Almost Bridge 7F54   Main

Slick Willy

  by Richard Pavlicek

Willy Clipton, a real estate tycoon from Hot Springs, Arkansas, was an ardent bridge player. Better known as “Slick Willy” to his friends, he was notorious for having had and lost more bridge partners than anyone in the history of the game. No one could pinpoint exactly why — his presence was quite charming — but something about his character seemed to drive partners away.

It was Saturday night and Willy arrived at the bridge club for his weekly game with Hilarity, the only player who would put up with him on a regular basis. Willy walked in the door and headed straight to a gathering of bridge players, where he singled out his partner. “Hilarity! You look beautiful tonight. I’ve been looking forward to our game all week.”

“Thank you.” Hilarity smiled, “but first I want to change something on our convention card. I want to play that convention you play with Monique. I think it’s called perverted minors.”

“Oh, you mean inverted minors. We can play it if you want, but
you must be mistaken. I’ve never played bridge with Monique.
I barely know her; only saw her here at the club a few times.”

“Yeah, sure. You ‘barely’ know her, as in without clothes. I heard about a hand you played with her in her apartment.” [Hilarity grabs a napkin and jots down the deal in the diagram.] “You opened 1 C and Monique raised to 3 C with no points! You then proceeded to bid 3 NT and make it. I was very impressed.”

“You must be confused. Not only have I never played bridge with Monique, but I don’t even recall such a hand.”

“Willy, don’t lie to me! I have two witnesses! West led a low heart to the king and your ace, and you returned the H J to West’s queen. West exited with a third heart to dummy’s ten. You then figured that West wouldn’t give you an entry to dummy if the club finesse were working, so you led a club to your ace and made nine tricks.”

“I’m sure I would have played it that way, but I categorically deny ever playing bridge with Monique.”

Board 1
None Vul
S 3 2
H 10 3 2
D 3 2
C 10 9 8 7 6 5

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

Hilarity continued, “I was studying this deal, and there is only one lead to defeat 3 NT. Do you see it?”

“Well, looking at it now for the first time, it appears a diamond is best. It sets up that suit for the defense, and declarer has only eight tricks. Right?”

“No. Declarer can succeed by running clubs. I won’t go into the many variations, but declarer can always prevail. The only lead that will beat 3 NT is a club.”

“Of course!” Willy exclaimed. “That’s why I like inverted minors.
If you bid a minor several times, with a jump for good measure,
nobody is going to lead it. Almost foolproof; works every time.”

“So, does this mean you admit playing bridge with Monique?”

“Absolutely not! I would swear under oath it never happened.”

“No doubt,” Hilarity mused, “you would also swear that oranges are blue.”

“Trust me!” Willy persisted, “I have never had a bridge relationship with that woman… Monique.”


In the next few months the witnesses came forward, confirming Willy’s relationship with Monique. Willy then changed his story, claiming that his previous statements “might have been misleading” but he never lied. As he put it, Monique was a very weak player, so being her partner would not be called “playing bridge.” At best it would be called “playing at bridge” — and he never said that.

Almost Bridge 7F54   MainTop   Slick Willy

© 1998 Richard Pavlicek