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MAD BRIDGE 7: A New Player Enters the Game

Allison, Don Draper's secretary, was anxiously waiting for Don when he arrived at the office just after 10 a.m. “Mr. Sterling is waiting for you,” she said. “Sounds like something really urgent.”

Draper tossed his hat and briefcase on Allison's desk, and hurried down the hall to Sterling's office. He entered without knocking, to find Roger and Joan Holloway engaged in serous conversation.

“What's wrong?” asked Don. “Is there trouble with the Mohawk Airlines account, or one of the others? Is Bert Cooper sick?”

Roger Sterling frowned. “Almost as bad,” he said. “That girl from Brooklyn, what's her name, called in sick, and we've had trouble finding someone to take his place is our after-lunch bridge game. Got any ideas?”

Now it was Draper's turn to frown. That snippy Pete Cooper, the only one in the office to know where he'd really picked up his clever bridge tricks, had played the game as a Columbia undergrad. The standard of the game up there was pretty high.

Roger jumped at the suggestion with unanticipated glee. “That's a good idea. We can see how the standard on the Upper West matches up with Sandy Hook,” he said with a grin that raised Draper's blood pressure rise a couple of notches. Who was that silver-spoon snob to make fun of people with humble beginnings? Particularly since , the Sterling in Sterling Cooper came from Roger's late father, not from him.

Pete Cooper welcomed the idea, of course. Being closeted with two of the agency's top men, and its uncontested top woman to boot, couldn't do his career any harm. And just think of the looks on the faces of his rivals, particularly Kenny Cosgrove, when they found out....

Draper suggested they cut for partners, to which Roger added a condition. “Let's give Joan the Q, both because she's the only woman in the game and in recognition of her beautiful red hair,” the senior partner said. Pete cut the A, Don the 9 and Roger the 3, so it was Joan and Pete against the two senior executives.

Draper and Sterling had a clear advantage on the first few deals. Then this one arrived.

Roger
J
Q10953
K4
KJ632
Joan
A103
J2
AJ98652
8
Don
9542
AK74
Q10
1074
Pete
KQ876
86
73
AQ95
W
N
E
S
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The Roth-Stone approach was all the rage up there in Morningside Heights, but Pete didn't fancy the idea of super-sound opening bids. His 11 HCP, plus two doubletons, certainly warranted a 1 opener, and after Joan's 2 he could do no less than bid clubs, his second suit.The game seemed reasonable, even after Draper won the first two tricks with the A-K and switched to a trump.

Pete Cooper wondered to himself what that move was all about before placing the K on the table. Draper, he concluded, must be trying to prevent him from ruffing clubs with dummy's three trumps. The best option seemed to be establishing the diamonds.

The picture became even clearer when Sterling followed with the J on the first trump trick. Pete's plan was clear. He's duck a diamond and hope they were 2-2, then enter dummy with the diamond ace and run his winners in that suit through Draper, who would eventually be forced to ruff. Pete would then overruff, draw all of Don's remaining trumps with the A and T in dummy, and discard all his club losers on the now-master diamonds.

(Of course, that plan would not work if Draper held a singleton diamond or three cards in that pointed suit. In the latter case he'd simply win the first diamond and return a spade. Pete could ruff the diamonds good, but would lack the necessary entries to run the suit after Draper was out of trumps. But that, as they said down the Ave. at BBD&O or J. Walter, was a different story.)

Luck was on Pete's side this time, Draper won the first diamond and returned a spade, but conceded the game contract when he and his partner showed up with only two diamonds.

For a change, Roger Sterling was generous even though he was on the losing end. “Nice play there, Mr. Ivy League,” he said. “Did you learn that one at Columbia? I didn't think it was part of the MBA program there.”

“I didn't study business or even economics, Mr. Sterling,” said the junior adman. “But as an undergrad I used to get lessons watching rubber bridge games at the Mayfair.”

 

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