Main     Almost Bridge 7F66 by Richard Pavlicek    

Reindeer Invade OKbridge

The North Pole Regional, once a glorious affair, has been dormant for several years for lack of a playing site. Local hotels steadfastly refused to host the event because of damage costs in the millions due to the uncontrollable reindeer antics. If the Arctic bridge rivalry would continue, the organizers could see only one solution: OKbridge!

The Planning Committee contacted Matthew Clegg, owner and founder of the famous online bridge club, to ask about membership. Although skeptical at first, Clegg finally conceded, “I guess a few reindeer won’t matter; we already put up with those Gib machines and shouldn’t discriminate against other non-humans.”

The next major hurdle was setting up the hardware. Each computer required a special heavy-duty keyboard and a Microsoft HoofMouse (a floor-mounted input device), plus the monitors had to have tempered glass screens. The last condition arose out of painful experience, as a number of previous monitors had exploded from antler gougings.

Rudolph and Ronald were the first to test the new equipment. They connected to the Internet and logged on to OKbridge as Rudolph3 and Ronald4. They were bewildered when they saw all the lobby chat, but then noticed someone had typed:

“Expert opps needed at Musher!”

Could it really be? There was only one way to find out so they joined the table. Sure enough: It was their Eskimo rivals Mush and Slush, slightly disguised by their login names. There also were over 100 spectators, but the North-South seats were vacant.

“Oh geez,” typed Musher. “What idiot let you guys in here?”

“Clegg’s the name I think,” typed Rudolph3. “Come on, let’s play. We’ll go easy on you.”

Before anyone could say no, Ronald popped into the North seat and Rudolph sat South. The cards instantly appeared and the bidding proceeded as in the diagram. Rudolph opened his “better minor,” and shortly found himself in slam. The spectators were impressed. Pretty good bidding for a couple of reindeer!

6 D by South

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

West
Musher

Pass
Pass
Pass
North
Ronald4

3 D
4 C
6 D
East
Slusher

Pass
Pass
All Pass
South
Rudolph3
1 D
3 NT
4 H

Musher was not going to fall for the old “unbid suit” caper, so he led the H J. The spectator chat was intense, debating whether the slam could be made, when all of a sudden Rudolph ducked the opening lead. Had this reindeer lost his mind? Did he even have a mind?

Musher knew something was fishy and shifted to a club, won by the king. Rudolph crossed to the D A, ruffed a heart and led all the trumps to reach:

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

The spectators were still abuzz, and Rudolph made their jaws drop as he won the S A and led a spade to the king, squeezing East out of a club. Then the H A squeezed West in the black suits. Way to go, Rudolph! Now you’ll go down in OKhistory, too.

Curiously, the contract cannot be made if the H A is won on the first trick. Try it. And Happy Holidays!

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© 1999 Richard Pavlicek