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MAD BRIDGE 10: A Medical Problem

The next pair encountered by Draper and Olson didn't seem like they came from California at all -- a gent in a rumpled suit that had a vaguely European cut, and a tall blond woman wearing the kind of wide-skirted dress Peggy was used to seeing only when there was a christening at All Saints. And in contrast to the casual style Peggy had been told to expect in California, this couple was all stiffness and formality.

 

The gent in the suit even gave a little bow before taking his seat.

 

“Look at our convention card, bitte,” he said politely. “It is European system, not Standart American.”

 

Peggy was polite. “You're also new to California, I see. We're from New York, here on business.”

 

“We are here on a medical convention.” The tall woman smiled.

 

The first deal was a routine 3NT, played by Don. The second was more exciting.

 

Don
Q84
A1063
K97
A75
Peggy
K1075
KQ754
A2
KJ
W
N
E
S
6
 

 

Peggy, in first position, opened 1 and wasn't really surprised when Don, in a typically aggressive manner, pushed on to the heart slam. At the end of the auction, the tall blond began studying her cards. She seemed unable to decide on a lead. At that moment, crumpled suit, in the East seat, began coughing.

 

Peggy expressed her concern for the foreign visitor. “Are you OK?” she asked. “Maye I can get you a glass of water or something.”

 

Nein, danke. It will be all right in a moment.” But the gent continued coughing, three times more, causing his rimless glasses to slip off.

 

After the fourth brief spell, the coughing stopped as suddenly as it had started. Almost immediately, the tall blond settled on a lead. With some conviction, she placed A on the table, followed by a small spade, ruffed by her partner. The contract was one down.

 

Peggy could barely conceal her disappointment. Where in the world, she thought, had the frau found that killing lead? “Nice lead,” she said. “But isn't the contract down in any case?”

The man on the right smiled. “Not quite,” he said in his thick European accent. “If she leads the T, for example, you can win the jack, draw trumps and play the K, then A and a diamond to the king, discard a spade on the A and ruff your last diamond.” He sketched the diagram on the back of his convention card, in the little bit of space left over after all the listings in his curly European-looking scrawl.

  

West
AJ963
82
10654
102
Don
Q84
A1063
K97
A75
East
2
J9
QJ83
Q98643
Peggy
K1075
KQ754
A2
KJ
D

  

Peggy squinted. “I can barely read that,” she said. “Your handwriting – it's so hard to decipher. You should be a doctor.”

 

“I am, fraulein, I am,” said LHO. “And so is my partner. But let me continue....

“At this point declarer should be able to count. She started with two clubs, three diamonds at least, and two hearts. It's logikal to expect her to have many spades, nein?”

 

“Yes, but...” from Peggy.

 

“So cross to dummy with a trumpf, and play a spade towards your hand. Just in case I have a singleton A,” he said. “When you see a small spade, play the K. When she takes the A, she's end-played. A diamond gives, what do you call it, a sluff and ruff, so she must return a spade, which goes around to the 10. So you see, six is er...frozen, right?”

“So it is,” said Draper, always one to recognize a well-shaped leg or a fine defense. “Still, I'm not sure how she found that spade lead. And you really should do something about that cough. I'm sure the local bridge people can recommend a doctor, maybe even one who speaks German.”

 

Danke,” replied the man. “But we don't need medical help. You see, both of us are doktors.”

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