14 English Bridge December 2016 www.ebu.co.uk
he end-of-term match between the Masters
and the Boys was nearing its conclusion.
Much to the boys' disappointment, the
Matron had played above herself and the Masters
team led by 24 IMPs at half-time.
'We need a few good ones against Gertie and the
Matron,' said John Hutson as they walked across the
room for the penultimate four-board round.
'Hullo, boys,' said the Matron, as they took their
seats. 'Have you enjoyed the match?'
'I suppose so,' Neil Phillips replied. 'It would have
been better if we were winning.'
'That's not the right attitude,' admonished the
Matron. 'When you get older, you'll realise that in all
sports and games it doesn't really matter who wins.'
The two fourth-formers nodded politely. What an
amazing attitude! Trying your best to win was the
very essence of competitive sport.
This was the deal before them:
The boys were happy to see the Matron playing
the contract. Other things being equal, there might
be a useful swing coming their way. Phillips led the
®2 and the Matron won East's ®7 with the king.
Since the contract was a vulnerable game, she
paused to make a plan. The opening lead looked
very much like a singleton. Surely it must be right to
draw trumps before West could get a ruff.
When a trump was played to the king, Hutson
won with the ace and returned the ®Q. The Matron
did not like the look of this. If she tried to win with
the ace, West would ruff. Since there would still be
two club tricks to lose, she would go one down.
Stefan Götel surveyed the scene with his usual
equanimity. By all appearances the Matron was
taking this match quite seriously. She was actually
thinking what to do next, rather than reaching
immediately for some card or other.
The Matron concluded that she was certain to go
down if she played the ®A on this trick. The only
hope was to play low and hope that Hutson
switched to a different suit.
When the Matron's ®4 appeared on the table,
John Hutson blinked in surprise. Was this the
Matron long regarded as a source of tops and IMPs
in the plus column - the one that all the boys had
grown to love during their time at Cholmeley
School? He continued with the ®9 and the Matron
played the ®6 with a resigned air. Neil Phillips
claimed his ruff and switched to the t10. The
Matron won and drew the last trump. With a look
of surprise she noted that only three cards were
pointing in the defenders' direction. Somehow she
had made the contract.
'What a delightful play in clubs, partner!' declared
Stefan Götel. 'It could be a good swing our way.'
In the final round, Hutson and Phillips faced the
Masters' top pair. This was the last board of the
N/S Game. Dealer South.
´ K Q 10 5
™ A 5 4
t J 4
® 10 8 5 3
´ 7 3 ´ A 6
™ Q 10 8 7 2 ™ K J 9 6
t 10 9 7 3 2 t Q 8 6
® 2 ® Q J 9 7
´ J 9 8 4 2
t A K 5
® A K 6 4
The Matron's Inspiration
by David Bird
West North East South
Neil Stefan John The
Philips Götel Hutson Matron
Pass 3´ Pass 4´