Nothing so infuriates the contract bridge aficionado as to hear someone say, "Let's play cards—bridge or something." At that juncture the standard operating procedure of the aficionado is to draw himself up, glare venomously and stalk from the room. He is not going to play bridge with a clod who refers to a grand and glorious semiscience as a card game!

Now, I do not (of course) approve of any such behavior on the part of the bridge buff, but fair is fair, and he does have something on his side. I won't go so far as to say that contract bridge is to other games as the Empire State Building is to Uncle Tom's cabin, but the comparison is not too far-fetched. Could a pinochle player, for example, offer such an exhibition of legerdemain as was produced in the following bridge hand:

North, with 10 points in high cards, made the best response when he gave his partner a single raise; one no trump would have been too discouraging. South might have gone ahead more cautiously by rebidding only three spades, but the effect would have been the same, since North would scarcely have hung a trick short of game.

When the dummy was spread, declarer could see at a glance that he would have to lose two diamonds and a heart, and so the contract obviously depended on the position of the trump king.

East signaled for a diamond come-on by playing the 9, and South decided to hold up his ace. West then led the diamond queen. South won and let the trump queen ride through West, who of course declined to cover. Declarer continued with the jack of trumps, planting the evil eye on West in the vague hope of inducing a cover.

West, confident of his position, saw no objection to engaging in a little pleasantry by announcing to declarer that the king was an "untouchable." South kept quiet but he did not give up hope. He led the club deuce to the king and returned the small diamond remaining in the dummy.

East didn't give the matter a second thought as he went up with the diamond jack. He then exited with a club. South won, led to the heart king, ruffed dummy's low club with the 3 of trumps, and then led the ace and 8 of hearts.

To South's satisfaction, the heart suit broke three-three and East was in on the third round. That defender had to return a club or the 13th diamond. South ruffed with the 8 of trumps—and West, though he still had the king and a small trump against dummy's blank ace, was hors du combat. If he overruffed South's 8 with the king, dummy's ace would overruff him and South's remaining trump would be high; and if West preferred to "discard" his trump 6 underneath South's 8, that wouldn't do him much good either, since the heart would be pitched from the table and the trump ace would remain there for the last trick.

South's moment had come. He turned to West and said sweetly, "I guess you never heard of the smother play."

EXTRA TRICK

South certainly did a good job, but I'd better not leave any loose ends for eagle-eyed readers.

If South had known all about the hand he could have brought off his smother play without help from the enemy by conceding his second diamond loser before leading the second trump. As the play went, East could have beaten the hand by not putting up the diamond jack, letting his partner win with the 10 to knock out the then-blank ace of trumps.

PHOTO

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[6 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

WEST

[King of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

EAST

[9 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
4 [Spade]

WEST

PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 [Spade]
PASS

EAST
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: diamond king

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)