10 English Bridge February 2016 www.ebu.co.uk
THE Headmaster was always in two minds when
facing Bertie Bellis, the senior mathematics master.
Of course it was an asset to the school that so many
pupils from Maths 6A went to Oxbridge. As far as
the Headmaster was concerned, there was a price to
pay for this. Every Thursday, in the school duplicate,
the chances were that he would have to suffer two
bad boards, playing against Bertie and Percy
Cutforth. Ah well, perhaps this particular evening
would prove an exception.
'Interesting boards tonight,' observed Bertie
Bellis, taking his seat.
The Headmaster managed a brief nod. Interesting
boards? Not that he had noticed. This was the first
board of the round:
West North East South
Head- Percy Rev Bertie
master Cutforth Benson Bellis
Pass 4NT Pass 5®
Pass 5NT Pass 6®
Pass 7™ All Pass
'How can you bid a grand slam when he shows you
no aces and no kings?' demanded the Reverend
Love All. Dealer East.
´ A 6
™ Q 6 5 3
t A K 8 6 5
® Q 8
´ 8 4 ´ K Q J 10 9 7 3
™ 8 ™ J 10 4
t Q 10 9 3 2 t J 4
® J 10 4 3 2 ® 6
´ 5 2
™ A K 9 7 2
® A K 9 7 5
Benson. Percy Cutforth turned his unusually thick
lenses in the cleric's direction. Was Charlie
attempting some feeble joke? Perhaps he had never
heard of Roman Key-card Blackwood. 'Bertie
showed me three key-cards and then the king of
clubs,' he replied.
The Reverend Benson shook his head
disapprovingly. 'It takes all the fun out of slam
bidding if you know exactly what partner has,' he
said. 'That sort of thing will ruin the game.'
The 7™ bid was passed out and the Headmaster
led the ´8. Bertie Bellis won with the ´A and drew
two rounds of trumps with the ace and king, West
discarding a spade. The Headmaster was marked
with long holdings in both minors. What would he
discard on the next trump?
When a trump was led to the queen, the
Headmaster could see that he needed to keep his
diamonds to prevent dummy's suit from being
established. He discarded a club. Bertie Bellis played
the ace and king of diamonds, throwing a spade,
and ruffed a diamond in his hand.
If diamonds had broken 4-3, his thirteenth trick
would have come from that suit. The ®Q and a club
ruff would have provided the necessary entries. As it
was, it was a simple matter to play the three top
clubs and establish the thirteenth club with a ruff in
the dummy. The grand slam was made.
'Oh dear, he set up a long club,' exclaimed the
Reverend Benson. 'Unlucky, Headmaster. Your club
discard was very expensive.'
The Headmaster gritted his teeth. Charlie could
be exasperating at times. 'If I throw a diamond, he
sets up that suit instead,' he replied.
'Yes, yes, I'm not saying it was easy for you,'
Benson continued. 'Bertie hadn't bid clubs, I realise.
I probably would have made the same mistake.'
The Headmaster decided to give up the struggle.
Earlier in the day Mr Fairweather, a recent addition
to the maths staff, had been telling him how hard it
was to teach the denser members of class 4D. Trying
to explain bridge situations to Charlie B was much
A Mixed Blessing by David Bird