Death of A Bridge Club

Inducted into the ACBL Hall of Fame in 1998, Alphonse “Sonny” Moyse (1898-1973) was publisher and editor of The Bridge World from 1955-1966, spanning the era between Ely Culbertson, the founder of the magazine, and Edgar Kaplan.
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I am not a home conversationalist but it’s only nice, and wise, to throw out an occasional remark or question or something to one’s helpmate. Keeps her happy and occupied and feeling needed. In short, the decent thing to do.
In this laudable spirit I addressed my wife Jackie. “How’s the Thursday afternoon bridge club coming along? Having fun?”
Surely, as almost everyone will admit, there was nothing provocative in these words, but to my surprise Jackie stiffened, drew herself up — a difficult feat since she was seated at the time — and said with unmistakable disdain, “We’ve stopped. Broken up.”
“That’s too bad,” I said carefully.
She looked at me, waiting, and then said, “Aren’t you going to ask me why?”
“Oh, I’m sure you had good reasons.” I said.
“Yes,” she said. “Very good! We disagreed about a hand.”
“Well, well,” I murmured, and feeling that wasn’t entirely adequate, said it again. “Well, well.”
“Not only that,” said Jackie, “but Elaine’s husband and Jean’s husband and Vera’s husband all backed them up and said they had bid perfectly, whereas I might as well be an old maid for all the help I get! It’s really disgusting! You ought —”
“Baby,” I said earnestly, “here’s a compliment. You ain’t the type. A merry widow, maybe, but not a spinster. Now, may I ask what this is about? You didn’t ask me about a hand. You say that Al Landy and Harold Ogust and Bill Root got into the act? I don’t believe it.”
“Oh, you don’t! Well, there you are! I knew I’d be the only one all alone! I tell you that Alvin said Elaine was absolutely right, and Bill said that Vera was absolutely right, and —”
“And Harold stuck up — absolutely for Jean. Okay, okay! What was the hand?”
Jackie dashed to the desk, rummaged, and brought me back a rather grubby piece of paper.
“Hmmm,” I said and stared at this layout:

♠ A Q J 8 7 5 3
♣ K 8 6 3 2
♠ 4 ♠ K 10 9 6 2
A K J 9 8 6 5 4 10 7 2
K J 9 A 10 5
♣ Q ♣ J 10
♠ —
Q 8 7 6 4 3 2
♣ A 9 7 5 4

“Interesting possibilities,” I murmured. “All right, go ahead. What happened? Where were you sitting, by the way?”
“I was — no, I’ll tell you later,” Jackie said. “North-South were vulnerable and West was the dealer. Jean opened with four hearts, and —”
“So we have one lady located,” I said. “All right, go on.”
“North,” said Jackie deliberately, “bid four spades and East doubled it. Then South —”
“Ah yes, South. You, or she rather, was in a tough spot. What did she do — after squirming?”
“I supposed you wouldn’t squirm!” Jackie said indignantly. “Oh no! Don’t forget that I’ve sat in the Cavendish Club a few times in my life, and —”
“All right, all right, so you, I mean she, were or was entitled to a few squirms. Proceed.”
“South,” said Jackie firmly, “bid five diamonds. She certainly had a right to be scared — if you had heard Elaine’s double of four spades, you — never mind — anyway, South bid five diamonds, West doubled, and North got sort of angry and bid five spades. That —”
“Vera Root has a beautiful disposition,” I said. “You only thought she was angry.”
“She was angry! Not having a diamond in her hand, and — well, anyway, East doubled five spades and South naturally figured that —”
“All this anonymity is killing me,” I said. “What was it you figured?”
“All right, I figured that Vera probably had something outside of her spades, so I bid six clubs.” Her face lighted up and she said triumphantly, “And I made it, doubled and redoubled!”
“Which is certainly a good enough reason for the club’s breaking up,” I said. “Who doubled?”
Jackie wrinkled her brows, “I forget.”
“Who redoubled? Not you, I trust.”
“Of course not! Vera did. Why shouldn’t she have? With all those clubs and things. It was a beautiful redouble!”
“Hmmm. Well I’m glad that you and Vera stayed friends, anyway. I assume that she stopped being angry when you made the contract?”
“Yes, but everybody criticized everybody else and it went on and on, and the game broke up.”
I stared at the paper for some time before I said, “And you insist that Al Landy backed up Elaine’s bidding, and Harold backed up —”
“Yes. They’re very loyal!”
“And how!” I murmured. I got up and went to the telephone. Dialed. Didn’t hang up when a man answered. “Hello, Al,” I said. “About that hand. I —”
“What hand?” asked Al.
“The hand that broke up the girls’ Thursday afternoon bridge club.”
“Is it broken up?” he said.
“So I’m informed. Didn’t Elaine ask you about a certain hand?”
There was a long silence. “Not that I remember.”
“I see,” I said. “Okay. How’s the ACBL getting along?”
“Pretty well,” he said. “Nice of you to ask.”
“Goodbye,” I said.
I dialed again.
“Harold? This is Sonny. I’m calling about the hand that caused all the trouble in the girls’ bridge club. You know, the Thursday afternoon clambake. Did you—”
“What hand?”
“Didn’t Jean tell you?”
“Are you kidding? Bridge is barred in this house!”
“Superman,” I said very softly. “How’s the baby?”
“Fine. How’s The Bridge World?”
“Okay. Goodbye.”
I dialed again, but Bill Root wasn’t at home. “Hello, Vera,” I said. “Do you remember that hand that broke up your bridge club?”
There was silence and then she said doubtfully, “Sort of. Not very well. Was it a grand slam in notrump?”
“No,” I said. “A redoubled small slam in clubs. You were Jackie’s partner against Jean and Elaine.”
Another silence. “I’m sorry but — you know, with these two kids and everything — I just can’t —”
“That’s all right,” I said. “Think nothing of it. My memory’s not so hot either. The only thing is, the club did break up, didn’t it?”
“Well, yes, I guess it did. How’s Jackie?”
“Fine, just fine! How’s Bill?”
We told each other goodbye and I went back to the living room. Jackie was reading the newspaper — intently. “Pardon me,” I said, “but what are we having for dinner?”
“Nothing,” she said coldly.
(Copyright 1964-2012 Bridge World Magazine, Inc. Reprinted by permission.)

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