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Slick Willy

Willy Clipton, the real estate tycoon from Arkansas, was an ardent bridge player. Known as “Slick Willy” to his friends, he was notorious for having had and lost more bridge partners than anyone in the history of the game. No one could pinpoint exactly why — his presence was quite charming — but something about his character seemed to drive partners away.

It was Saturday night and Willy arrived at the bridge club for his weekly game with Hilarity, the only player who would put up with him on a regular basis. As he walked through the door, he headed straight toward a gathering of bridge players and singled out his partner. “Hilarity, you look beautiful tonight. I’ve been looking forward to our game all week!”

“Thank you,” she smiled, “but first I want to change something on our card. I want to play that convention you played with Monique. I think it was called perverted minors?”

“Ha-ha… you mean inverted minors. We can play it if you want, but you must be mistaken. I’ve never played bridge with Monique. I barely know her from seeing her play at the club a few times.”

“Yes, you did! I heard about a hand you played last week with Monique at her apartment. [Hilarity reached for a napkin and jotted down the deal in the diagram.] You opened 1 C and Monique raised to 3 C with no points! You then bid 3 NT and made it. I was very impressed.”

“You must be confused. Not only have I never played bridge with Monique, but I don’t even recall such a hand.”

“Willy! Don’t lie to me. I have witnesses. West led a small heart and you took the king with the ace, then returned the H J to West’s queen. West exited with a third heart to dummy’s ten. You then figured that West would not give you an entry to dummy if the club finesse was working, so you led a club to your ace and made nine tricks.”

“I’m sure I would have played it that way, but I categorically deny ever playing bridge with Monique!”

3 NT by South

S 3 2
H 10 3 2
D 3 2
C 10 9 8 7 6 5
S A 9 8 7
H Q 6 5 4
D Q 10 9 8
C K
TableS Q J 10
H K 9 8 7
D K 7 6 5
C J 4
Lead: H 4S K 6 5 4
H A J
D A J 4
C A Q 3 2

West

Pass
All Pass
North

3 C
East

Pass
South
1 C
3 NT

Hilarity continued, “I was studying this deal closely and noticed there is only one lead to defeat 3 NT. Did you see it?”

“Well, looking at it now for the first time, it appears a diamond is best. It establishes the diamonds for the defense, and declarer has only eight tricks. Right?”

“No. Declarer can succeed by running the clubs. I won’t go into the many variations, but declarer can always prevail in the ending. The only lead that will beat 3 NT is a club.”

“Of course!” Willy exclaimed. “Why do you think I like inverted minors? If you bid the suit enough times, throwing in a jump for good measure, who’s going to lead it? Works every time!”

“So, does this mean you admit playing bridge with Monique?”

“Absolutely not! I would swear under oath it never happened.”

“No doubt,” Hilarity laughed, “I’ve known you so long. But I need to know the truth for myself.”

“Trust me!” Willy insisted, “I have never had a bridge relationship with that woman… Monique.”

Epilogue

In the next six months several witnesses came forward, confirming Willy’s relationship with Monique. Willy then changed his story, claiming his previous statements “might have been misleading” but he never lied. As he put it, Monique was a very weak player so being her partner could not be called “playing bridge.” At best it could be called “playing at bridge” and he never said that.

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© 1998 Richard Pavlicek