Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bridge at the zoo

The Safari Club was holding its yearly competition for the prestigious Ostrich Egg Trophy. This deal caused much discussion afterwards. Most pairs stopped in 4, but several pairs bid six. All the animals in six went set; the heart finesee was off and diamonds didn't split. When there was one round left to play, no one had bid and made slam.

J 10 4
K J 10 7 4 2
A K 9 8
K 9 8 5 Q J 10 6 3
Q 3 8 7 6
Q 6 5 3 9 8
7 5 2 Q J 6
A 7 4 2
A K 9 5 2
10 4 3

On the last round, the Rueful Rabbit declared 6. Most players at the club had inflated ideas of their abilities, but the RR claimed to be the second-worst player in the world. The other animals of the club liked him too much to point out that they disagreed, if you catch my drift.

The RR ruffed the spade lead and dillied and dallied. With all these aces and kings, there must be 12 tricks somewhere, he thought. "A diamond, no, um I mean the jack of hearts," he said.

The Secretary Bird jumped in. "Too late, you have to play the diamond," he stated. The SB was the club's self-appointed expert on the rules. He didn't play bridge well, but made up for it by being a stickler for the proprieties of the game.

West was Timothy the Toucon. "The Rueful Rabbit was about to finesse into my doubleton queen," thought TTT, "but no, my partner goes lawyerly on me."

The RR won his A and while he was thinking, his nose started twitching. Suddenly, the 2 fell out of his hand onto the table. "That's a played card," hissed the Secretary Bird. The Rueful Rabbit's ears turned red. How humiliating to lose a heart trick like this.

Getting a second chance, The Toucon grabbed his Q and switched to a club. The RR won in dummy and ruffed a diamond, led to the J and ruffed a third round of diamonds with the A, just in case. He drew trumps and went to dummy. To his surprise, the diamonds were good! He had made his slam!

At dinner later, the Hideous Hog was holding court with the other animals and savoring a bottle of 1978 Domaine Carleros wine. "It's funny," he mused. "The Rueful Rabbit reduces life to its simplest form -- down to the molecules and even atoms, I think. His finesses never win, so he doesn't bother taking them. It doesn't get simpler than that.

"This wine has a certain je ne sais quoi, don't you think?" asked the Hog. "Waiter! Another bottle."

(Apologies to Victor Mollo.)

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