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MAD BRIDGE 8: Move and Counter-Move

Pete Campbell was usually upbeat, a trait that some of his Sterling Cooper colleagues less generously called cocky or brash. But this afternoon, coming out of the meeting with a prospective client, the young executive was anything but confident.

He rushed into Draper's office to share his dismay. “I blew it,” he said, walking over to the sidebar to pour himself a double. “Everything went well until one of the prospective clients asked Kenny Cosgrove why the agency had dropped out of its long-standing deal with Mohawk Airlines to pick up another, bigger airline client. Would SC do the same thing with them, the guy asked, if one of their bigger competitors came along?”

Draper frowned. “That's not a tough question at all; you could have described how we've stuck with some of the others, like Lucky Strike, over the years...”

“Of course I could,” Campbell replied. “And I had prepared our standard answer. But Kenny's new. He stammered and stuttered till I had to jump in with the answer. Too late. It's my fault though, I should have prepared him, to protect against that eventuality.”

Draper put a reassuring hand on Campbell's back. The kid, who was sometimes his protege and sometimes his rival, still needed some seasoning. “Preparation,” the older man mused, “that's what it's all about.”

Pete was still thinking about preparation when he and Roger Sterling sat down opposite Draper and Peggy Olson for their post-liquid-lunch session of bridge. The first deal was an inconsequential part-score that Sterling, who claimed he played as well (but didn't) after four double Chivases as without them, had butchered worse than the engineers who designed the Edsel. On the second Pete inserted a 2 overcall after hearing Draper, on his right, open 1. Peggy raised to 2 and Draper, with hardly a hesitation, raced on to the heart game.

Holding A72 QJ9 J8 AJ954, Pete looked no farther than the J for his opening lead, won by South's king.

Pete
A72
QJ9
J8
AJ954
Peggy
J10653
K32
52
Q76
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
4
P
P
P

The senior adman proceeded quickly -- A and then a diamond towards dummy. Pete thought a moment, then discarded a spade.

Describing the hand late that afternoon during Happy Hour drinks with Cosgrove, he explained his considerations. “I could see what was coming. After the diamond ruff in dummy Don was going to play the king, ace and a little trump in that order, putting me on lead. I knew that Draper had started with five hearts and at least three diamonds and probably had five black cards left, in addition to two high hearts. I couldn't dream of exiting with a club, which seemed sure to give up a trick, so it was going to be ace and another spade.”

He turned to Cosgrove. “Do you see the problem, Kenny? Don certainly had one of the missing spade honors, but which one and how many cards in the suit. How would partner, holding Q and two small, know what to do if I exited with the ace and a little spade? Should he cover when Don put up the J or T on the second spade trick?”

Cosgrove could only nod as Cooper continued. “I had to find a way to show him that it was I, and not Draper, who had started with three spades. And they way to do it...”

“I've got it!' Kenny was bubbling with excitement. “Discard a spade on the third diamond. Later, when exit with ace and another spade after being thrown in with the third heart,, even Roger will know that you started with three spades, leaving two -- the K and another – for Don. He won't make the fatal error of covering the jack, Don will win the king and, in addition to two hearts can lead up to the winning Q, but he'll eventually have to lose two tricks to your A-J! A good example giving partner the information he needs to make the correct play.”

Pete Cooper shook his head. “Not quite. You are right about Roger not covering the jack, but Don made the hand anyway. Knowing that I had nothing but clubs left, he simply played the K from his hand. I could win that, but had to lead away from the J9 allowing his 10 to be the tenth trick,” he said.

“You see,” he said, “I had found the best move to protect partner. But in the end it was Don who was prepared, with the right counter-move.

Pete
A72
QJ9
J8
AJ954
Peggy
J10653
K32
53
Q76
Roger
Q98
64
Q107642
82
Don
K4
A10875
AK9
K103
W
N
E
S
1
2
2
P
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

“It's all a matter of preparation. You correctly found a way to give partner count in spades, but Draper had a counter-move in his pocket – just as we should have in our presentation this morning.”

They'd barely finished their discussion when Draper himself walked into the joint, accompanied by one of those blondes he was always interviewing for jobs at Sterling Cooper.  As he brushed past, he noticed the hand that had been scribbled on a napking. 

 

"Discarding a spade on the third diamond may solve one problem by giving partner the count in that suit," he said, barely concealing his impatience to get on with the "job interview."  "But it creates another.  "If you discard a club partner has to have the sense to stay off the J after ace and another, but it means that when declarer plays the high club from hand, as I did, you can win and still have a spade as a card of exit."

 

 

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