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MAD BRIDGE 6: Draper Sees Red

Joan Holloway had carefully observed Peggy Olson's progress. At first, it had only been in the agency, where the girl from blue-collar Brooklyn College had somehow managed to scratch her way up from the secretarial pool to copywriter in Don Draper's Creative Department.

Though Joan wouldn't ever admit that her mixed emotions, Peggy's advance was something of a source of pride and measured jealousy. On the one hand, Joan was overjoyed to see any of “her” girls move up the ranks in super-hierarchial Sterling Cooper. On the other, any female who took a step or more upwards constituted a threat to red-headed Joan's hegemony as the agency's Top Woman, a position she'd earned by the force of her personality and the fullness of her figure.

Peggy's acceptance in the afternoon bridge game with Don Draper and Roger Sterling, two senior partners, intensified the vague feeling of insecurity growing in Joan. The best way of protecting herself, she surmised, was to sharpen her brige game with some study of her own. She took out a trial subscription to the Bridge World, reputedly the magazine read by the expert experts, and checked out Marshall Miles's “All 52 Cards” and “Why You Lose at Bridge” by S. J. Simon from the Public Library. The latter was particularly interesting to her; though she couldn't cope with the seat-of-the-trousers bidding style the British Simon advocated (she'd discovered early on that “pants” were what the Limeys called undergarments), there was lots to learn from how he dissected the play of the hand.

She'd just finished reading a chapter on declarer play on the train home to the Upper East Side on Tuesday night. As fate would have it, after lunch then next day she got an opportunity to test what she'd learned.

Roger
Q85
Q942
AK765
6
Joan
K7632
AJ65
1042
3
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1
2
2
3
3
P
4
P
P
P

 

Joan really wasn't sure what she should bid after Draper, in the West seat, had opened 1 and Roger, still her partner though he'd been less than supportive of her play and defense, overcalled 1. It would have been nice to use the negative double, except for the fact that Peggy had been silent so she had nothing to double (other than her partner's call, which she assumed was against the rules). A bid of the enemy suit (what was that called in the books, a Q bid?) would indicate support for partner's diamonds and a good hand, but she had both majors. If she bid spades and Roger had hearts he'd be down on her like the nor'easter they had the previous winter. She had only one bid available, and she knew of no way to indicate her holding in both majors. So 1 it was. Draper was right there with a club rebid, indicating six (or more), Rog supported her spades and Peggy stood by her boss with a 3 call.

Wanting only to compete, Joan tried 3 and when was vaguely disappointed when Roger, showing confidence in her for a change, went on to the spade game.

The opening lead was the K. Realizing that her partner might be put at a disadvantage if the king held, perhaps forcing him to lead away from an honor in one of the other suits, Peggy overtook with the A and fired back the 3, low from three which was, she later explained, “to take partner off a possible endplay.”

That ran around to Draper's king, and he exited with another heart. The significance of Peggy following with a higher heart, the eight, was not lost on Joan. (Particularly since upside-down carding hadn't yet become popular, and wasn't included in either of her bridge books.) So Peggy had started with three hearts, leaving Don with only two. He also had at least six clubs.

For the moment, clubs were the least of Joan's problems. She'd lost two tricks already, couldn't think of a way not to give up the ace of trumps, and had an almost certain diamond loser. That amounted to one down, even if she was able to pick up the doubleton A by leading towards one honor and ducking on the way back. Unless one of her opponents had started with exactly the doubleton Q-J...

Tossing her red locks to one side, Joan realized that she had a better chance. What if West had seven clubs, not six, and a doubleton in each suit. Having made her decision, she played quickly and decisively – they way Bert Cooper, the firm's senior partner, always urged her to do. Joan proceeded to play a spade to Q, and cashed two diamonds, before ducking a Spade to Draper's now singleton A.

Draper paused as if to think, but the redhead waved him off. “Let me put you out of your misery,” she said. 'You have nothing but clubs left, so I will trump that in dummy, discarding the diamond loser from my hand. My book calls it a ruff and discard.”  And so it came to pass.   

The fact that Roger Sterling hadn't done a thing other than turn the cards in dummy at Joanie's request didn't preclude a little gloat. “I don't know what they call it, pal,” he said to Draper. “But whatever it was, it was pretty rough on you.”

Peggy Olson had listened carefully to the exchange. She also had something to tell Draper, her boss and mentor. “Don, you missed that one. You could have avoided the end-play pretty easily. Just rise with the ace on the first spade play and return your last spade. That solves Joanie's problem in trumps, but she's left with a diamond – and the contract – to lose.”

Don
A4
K3
Q3
KQ107542
Roger
Q85
Q942
AK765
6
Peggy
J109
1087
J98
AJ98
Joan
K7632
AJ65
1042
3
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
1
2
2
3
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

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