The evening was drawing to a close when W made his announcement. “From now on, I'd prefer to be called 43,” he said in his most serious tone.
'Chelle gave her guest a puzzled look. “43? That's an unusual name. Why did you choose that, of all things? she said.
Her guest hesitated and Laura, his wife chimed in. “He and Dick finished third in the Wednesday night duplicate at the bridge center in Plano, Texas, and he now has 43 full Master Points,” she said. “That passed his father, who only has 41.”
“It's something to be proud of,” Bar agreed. “Your call, 43.”
A few deals later it was Bar's turn to show his stuff as declarer. In the meantime, he'd shifted from the North seat to South, a seat usually occupied by 'Chelle, who always said she was a South Side girl, because that was where she had grown up in Chicago.
The host pair had arrived at 6NT with ...er...43, in the W(est) seat on lead. When the ♥K hit the table, Bar saw that it would take a formidable effort to make this one. Putting on his toughest face, the one he'd used in meetings with that stony-faced guy from Moscow and the Israeli superstar with the last name everyone mispronounced, he settled into the task.
Wishing he was in 6♣ (even with a club lead 12 tricks seemed easy on a cross-ruff), Bar settled down to the task. Remembering something he'd heard about the late Charlie Coon back when he played in the student duplicate at Harvard all those years back, he decided to duck the first trick to rectify the count for a squeeze. When 43 continued with the ♥J, Bar won the ace and ran all his minor-suit winners. On the last one, 43 was squeezed in this position:
'Chelle's enthusiasm bubbled over as she congratulated her partner “Yes we did! Well played partner,” she said. 43 nodded agreement and Bar gave a bashful look of acknowledgement. But Laura, in her most ladylike way, demurred.
She addressed her husband first. “Actually Honey, he shouldn't make it once he ducks the first heart,” she said. “At that point you can shift to a spade, which breaks up the squeeze.
“And you, Bar, didn't give it the best play either. You have to win the first heart and run your minors. On the last of them, let's say it's a diamond, 43 has no defense:
"When the ♦J is led, my husband can't pitch a spade, or dummy's third spade would be high. But a heart discard would allow declarer to pitch the ♠9 and lead the ♥10, establishing dummy's ♥8 as the 12th trick.”
“That seems right to me,” said 43. “In that position, one of my potential winners would vanish. You could say that it was hanging of there, ripe to be squeezed.”
“Kind of like a hanging chad,” said Bar, “though it's called a squeeze without the count.”
Both 43 and Laura chuckled as they left the table.
Plus... it's free!