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Bridge 12-23

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The Senior Life Master was sitting in the bar, enjoying an egg nog. The club and its tree were festooned with Christmas ornaments. A young man walked into the bar, stamping his feet to dislodge the snow from his shoes.
    “Let me get you an egg nog or a brandy,” said the SLM. With slight reluctance, the young man sat down and said, “Thank you. But I would prefer a hot toddy.”
    You remind me (continued the SLM) of Cuthbert Bartlett-Smythe, who, one Christmas Eve many years ago, was playing with Katherine fforbes-Hoy, our best woman player despite being only in her early 20s. Cuthbert was hoping she would agree to a permanent contract. This was the critical deal.
    Cuthbert allowed the unfavorable vulnerability to dissuade him from bidding five clubs over four spades. We will never know if North and South would have found their club ruff to extract 500 from five hearts doubled.
    Against four spades, Katherine led the heart king: two, jack, six. Perhaps she should have shifted immediately to a trump, but she cashed her heart queen first before playing a spade. Declarer won in his hand and led a low diamond, Katherine carefully putting in her 10. Otherwise, South could have ducked the trick to East. Declarer rose with dummy’s ace, and Cuthbert continued the excellent defense, tossing away his queen. So when declarer continued diamonds, Katherine got in and led another trump to stop a diamond ruff on the board, defeating the contract.
    “Wonderful defense,” commented Katherine. Cuthbert knew it would be a happy Christmas.
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