Frank van Wezel and Hans van de Konijnenberg live in the Netherlands and collect books, magazines, and daily bulletins about bridge. They especially enjoy reading daily bulletins from the pre-Internet era because these bulletins contain a lot of wonderful photographs, marvellous sketches, splendid deals, revealing interviews, and tremendous stories and anecdotes. They have started www.bridgedailybulletins.nl to share these treasures with others.
The following article was written by Brian Senior in the 10th Daily Bulletin of the 1993 European Championships in Menton.
The inmates of the Daily Bulletin ward are only allowed out of the Hôpital psychiatrique de l’Europe very late at night. Last night, as I was being let out by the guard, there was a heated discussion going on in the gardens opposite the main door. As this was the first evening there had been anyone at all about at the end of my day, I thought I should investigate.
In the gardens I found three inmates from another ward arguing about a 3NT contract. Not wishing to disturb them further, but ever on the lookout for material I stood quietly to one side and tried to identify which hand they were talking about.
Suddenly they were silent. As one, they raised their wild eyes to me, and the largest of the three hissed, "Get off the dummy!", pointing at my feet. I glanced down and could just see some scratchings in the sand.
He leant across towards me, a dagger glistening from his nearer hand. "On your knees ... now." I did not like how quietly he spoke. "Move back and a little to your left," he demanded.
Now I could see three bridge hands etched into the sand, and an indecipherable mess where I had been standing. The large one handed me his knife, and then a high-pitched voice from one of the others began to dictate the missing hand. As I was scribbling with the knife, I recognised the hand from Brian Senior’s match report on Norway v. France in yesterday’s Bulletin:
I was of two minds about returning the knife after I stood up , but the large one wasn’t. The man in the middle was about my size. He spoke normally but his English bore an accent I could not quite identify, "East plays in 3NT after South has shown both majors. The lead is the ♥J which should be his highest card, according to their convention card."
"On best defence, it goes down," the big one intoned.
"If declarer reads it properly, he makes it," the little one squeaked.
The man in the middle got us past the first trick, "Declarer has to win the ♥A at once. Otherwise, North gets in with the ♥K to switch to the ♠J."
"I lead diamonds at trick 2 and continue them if you duck."
"I win the third diamond and play the ♠J now."
"I take the ♠A, cross with the ♣K and run diamonds."
The big one considered this carefully, "I come down to ♠K7 ♥8 ♦void ♣QJ. You can set up the ♥Q, but now you can’t reach it, so I must end up with the ♦A, 2 spades, the ♥K and a club."
The little one looked quite sad. No one spoke for a few minutes.
"Shall I pay ...." the middle man began.
"No!" the little one suddenly shouted. "If you let me have 2 diamonds, I don’t play another one. I duck a club in both hands. Since South has precisely ♣QJ10 he must win. He can only get to North by setting up my ninth trick in hearts. See!"
The big one began to pace, intermittent growls coming from his lips. No one else dared move. For the first time, he seemed unsure, "OK, I win the diamond, the first or the second it doesn’t matter, and lead the ♠J. You have only 1 heart, 1 spade, 4 diamonds, and 2 clubs before I get five tricks. You must pay." His voice returned to its lower register for that last sentence.
The little one slumped so pathetically that I felt sorry for him. "May I have the knife, please?" I asked. Moving away from the main diagram, I scratched the ending in the sand:
I called the others. "South still has to discard. A club gives 9 tricks immediately. If South discards his heart, three rounds of clubs endplay him. And if South throws a spade, dummy exits with a small heart. When North plays a spade through, East just ducks."
Pride cometh before the fall. As the little one jumped up and down excitedly, he caught my eye. All of a sudden, I felt pain at the back of my skull and everything went blank.
"Bonjour, Monsieur! Voici votre petit déjeuner!"
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