Bridge Fiction by David Bird
The Matron’s Prognosis
THE MATRON peered over her glasses at ‘I’m probably wrong,’ John Hutson must hold four diamonds in his hand.
Neil Phillips, as the fourth-former took his replied, ‘but I thought that if Neil had two Which suit should he throw?
seat at her table. ‘You didn’t come to hearts, you probably wouldn’t have a heart When the German master eventually
surgery this morning to take your cough to lead.’ discarded the jack of hearts, Neil Phillips
mixture,’ she admonished him. Neil Phillips won the club lead with won with the ace of spades and led his
‘It made my cough worse yesterday,’ Neil dummy’s queen and played the king and remaining heart to East’s queen. Declarer
Phillips replied. ‘As soon as I swallowed it, queen of trumps. When trumps broke 3-1, won the diamond return and could not be
I started coughing again.’ it was no longer possible to discard a heart prevented from ruffing two hearts in his
‘I’ve never heard such nonsense!’ on the ®A-K, give up a heart and cross- hand. He returned to dummy with a
retorted the Matron. ‘A double dose ruff in the red suits. If declarer followed diamond ruff to score the established
tomorrow is what you need. That should that line, he would have to ruff dummy’s seven of hearts and twelve tricks were his.
clear it up.’ last two hearts high to avoid an overruff. ‘He made a trick with the seven of
Neil Phillips could feel a tickle in his West’s ´9 would then be promoted. What hearts!’ exclaimed the Matron. ‘Surely you
throat as he sorted his cards for the next else could he try? must have held a heart stopper, partner?
deal, but he was determined not to cough. Neil Phillips played dummy’s top clubs, You opened Four Hearts.’
It was well known that the Matron chose throwing a heart, and these cards were still Stefan Götel shrugged his shoulders. ‘If I
the foulest tasting medicines known to to be played: keep hearts, I have to throw a diamond,’ he
mankind. Her dark brown cough mixture replied. ‘He plays diamond ace-king, ruffs
was one of the worst of them. a heart, diamond ruff to dummy and
This was the first board of the round: ´ J4 another heart ruff to reach the established
™ 7542 diamond.’
t AK Neil Phillips was looking somewhat
Game All. Dealer East. ® — flushed by his success. ‘I would have made
´ KQJ4 ´ 9 ´ — the seven of diamonds instead of the seven
™ 7542 ™ — W E ™ AKQJ of hearts,’ he said.
t AK t J85 t Q 10 9 2 ‘I’ve never seen such luck,’ declared the
® AKQ ® 10 9 7 6 ® — Matron. ‘You bid a slam with two top
´ 986 N
´ 2 ´ A 10 7 losers in hearts and then make it by
™ Void W E ™ AKQJ986 ™ 10 scoring the seven of hearts. It should be
t J85 t Q 10 9 2 t 7643 against the rules.’
® J 10 9 7 6 5 3 ® 4 ® — No longer able to control himself, Neil
´ A 10 7 5 3 Phillips started to laugh. In a split-second
™ 10 3 he transformed this into a cough.
t 7643 ‘Four of trumps, please,’ said Neil Phillips. ‘We can’t have you coughing all night,’
® 82 Stefan Götel, sitting East, did not like declared the Matron. ‘I’ll see you in my
the look of this. There were four hearts in surgery after the game. Buckley’s Extra
the dummy and it seemed that declarer Strong Linctus is what you need!’ r
West North East South
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inspected the dummy disapprovingly.
‘How can you bid a slam with no heart E-mail: email@example.com
stopper?’ she exclaimed.
www.ebu.co.uk June 2012 English Bridge 9