It is too bad that the late, deeply lamented Damon Runyon was not a bridge player, because it's a dead sure thing that some marvelous bridge stories would have come from his typewriter. I wish that he, rather than I, could write the sad tale of what happened to a friend of mine who ignored (or perhaps didn't know) the advice Runyon's father once gave him. Shortly before his death, the old gentleman said to young Damon: "Son, sometime, somewhere, a stranger will come up to you and show you a brand-new deck of cards, with the seal still unbroken, and he'll offer to bet he can make the jack of spades jump out of this deck and squirt cider in your left ear. Son, do not bet, because sure as you do, you're going to have an ear full of cider!"

Which brings us to a bridge hand and the sad story about my friend.

"I was South," said my friend, "and though you may not approve of my bidding four spades, you'll agree it was a fine contract for the North-South hands."

"Yes," I said, "I'll have to agree to that."

"You'll also have to agree that it was horrible luck to find the three missing trumps bunched in the West hand, so that I had to lose a trump trick along with two hearts and a diamond."

I gazed at the layout and said, "What happened?"

"What happened? I went down one, of course, but that wasn't the worst of it! When it was over, a kibitzer offered to bet me he could make the hand! So I took him up of course—a rather substantial bet, by the way. And I lost! Can you believe it?"

"Oh yes, I can," I said, still gazing at the layout. "I suppose that West led the queen of clubs?"

He nodded. "That's right."

"So," I said slowly, "the kibitzer won with the club ace, laid down a high trump, and got the bad news about the trump break."

"Yes, just as I got it in the actual play."

"But then," I continued, "the kibitzer got smart. Obviously West didn't have a heart—else he would have led it originally. So the kibitzer cashed the king of clubs and then led dummy's little club and passed it to West, throwing off a diamond from his own hand. Right?"

"Yes," he said. "How did you know?"

Choosing to ignore that not very complimentary question, I continued, "And West made his best return—a low diamond."

"Yes."

"The kibitzer won with the king, cashed the other high trump and the diamond ace and ruffed dummy's remaining diamond. Still right?"

"Yes," he said sulkily.

"Then he threw West in with the trump queen, and West had to give him, the kibitzer, a ruff-and-discard. That is, West had to lead a diamond or a club, and the kibitzer chucked a heart from dummy while he trumped in his own hand. After that, he had only one heart to lose. Still right?"

"Yes! Are you going to tell me I should have played the .hand that way at the table! That double-dummy way!"

"Maybe not," I said. "But I am going to tell you not to stick out your ear for a squirt of cider!"

EXTRA TRICK
Sometimes you can overcome a bad break if you make it work for you instead of against you. The winning play is not quite as double-dummy as my friend would like to think. Declarer's only hope is to throw West in and to keep East out. When East fails to follow the third club it affords a sure way to accomplish this.

PHOTO

Both sides vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

EAST

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

EAST

4 [Heart]
PASS

SOUTH

4 [Spade]

WEST

PASS

NORTH

PASS

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)