The Hideous One Isn’t a Dummy — Not Even When He is a Dummy
The Hideous Hog likes you to think of this hand as one of the best examples of his skill in dummy play. It came up recently towards the end of an afternoon session.
“Last hand,” announced Timothy the Toucan. “I really shouldn’t have stayed to watch even this one.” (The Toucan was within his rights, for he had announced prior to the hand before that he had a dinner engagement and could kibitz only two more deals.)
|Dlr: West||♠ A K Q J|
|Vul: All||♥ —|
|♦ A K 7 6 5|
|♠ 10 3 2||♣ A K 3 2||♠ —|
|♥ A 10||♥ K J 9 8 7 6 5 4|
|♦ Q 10 9 8 3||♦ J 4|
|♣ 10 9 4||♠ 9 8 7 6 5 4||♣ Q J 5|
|♥ Q 3 2|
|♣ 8 7 6|
The Emeritus Professor of Biosophistry, generally known as the Secretary Bird, led the ♥A. As the rabbit surveyed the dummy, the Toucan glanced nervously at his watch. “It’s later than I think,” he murmured. “Oh dear, I shall be late.”
I’ll save time,” announced the Rabbit. “I can doubtless make all 13 tricks by setting up a diamond for a club discard, but since poor Timothy is in a hurry, I’ll just take my 12 tricks.”
“Which 12 tricks?” demanded the Secretary Bird. There was an ominous ring in his voice.
“Well really, Professor,” replied the Rabbit. “I mean it’s so simple, I ruff your ♥A and another heart, that’s two tricks, dummy’s two A-K’s, that’s six and my own six trumps.”
The Secretary Bird uncrossed his long wiry legs and faced his cards. “Allow me to inform you,” he announced triumphantly, “that you are one down. As you can see, I have three trumps, and that if you ruff two hearts in dummy, my ♠10 will be promoted to top rank and . . .”
“I don’t like to interrupt you,” broke in the Hog, who had been studying the layout, “but though you can invoke the laws, you cannot sit in judgment, deliver the verdict and pass sentence. It’s too much for one man, even for a distinguished legal scholar such as yourself. All you can do is ask declarer to play on.”
“In accordance with his statement,” rejoined the Professor.
The Hog nodded vigorously, perhaps a shade too vigorously. “Yes, you must play in strict accordance with your statement,” he told the Rabbit, emphasizing the operative words.
“I only said that I would ruff two hearts,” pleaded the Rabbit ruefully.
“Quite so,” agreed H.H., “ruff two hearts, score the two ace-kings and set up the diamonds.”
“Impossible, for I have five diamonds, as you can see,” declared S.B.
“True, true, but our friend didn’t know that when he made his statement, so I am afraid he must try the impossible by ruffing out . . .”
“You are directing him!” hissed the Secretary Bird.
The Hideous Hog looked shocked. “Are you suggesting, Professor, that declarer should depart from his statement?”
“I’ll accept no favors,” cried the Rabbit whose head was beginning to reel.
He ruffed the ♥A, cashed the ♦A K, discarding a heart, ruffed a diamond in his hand and another heart in dummy, then a fourth diamond in his hand.
“The diamonds, er, haven’t broken,” observed the Rabbit weakly. “What must I do next?”
“Noblesse oblige,” said the Hog with a lofty look. “Even though you know you can’t set up a diamond, you said something about ruffing them out, and also that you would cash those ace-kings. Honor demands that you carry out your obligations.”
The Rabbit duly cashed the ♣A K and ruffed dummy’s last diamond. “Lead a trump,” commanded the Secretary Bird.
The Rabbit did as he was told.
“Another trump,” persisted S.B.
The Hog, who had been concentrating on looking distrait, came to life quickly and deflected the Rabbit’s hand before he could reach dummy’s trump.
“No, no,” objected the Hog, “the laws do say — there’s a footnote, I believe — that declarer cannot be required to draw an outstanding trump that he may have overlooked. It’s in the singular. Nothing to say that he can be directed to draw trumps all night. Besides,” purred the Hog in his silkiest voice, “in this instance, he is actually disbarred by his own statement from drawing another trump, for if he did, he could only take five trump tricks and he specifically stated six.”
“What must I do now?” asked the Rueful Rabbit.
“Anything you like,” replied HH quickly, “except draw another trump.”
This Was the position:
|Dlr: West||♠ K|
|Vul: All||♥ —|
|♠ 10 3||♣ 3 2||♠ —|
|♥ —||♥ K J|
|♦ —||♦ —|
|♣ 10||♠ 9 8||♣ Q|
“Restricted choice,” muttered RR, playing a club. Winning with the ♣Q, Walter the Walrus had to play a heart, and whether SB covered the ♠9 with his ♠10 or under-ruffed, the Rabbit was destined to make the last two tricks and bring home the contract.
“I’m surprised at you, Professor,” said HH sternly. “Fancy trying to talk my friend out of a kindergarten smother play. Mind you,” he went on, “you could have broken the contract, even at the end, had you been able to persuade your partner to unblock in clubs, allowing you to win the third round and lead a trump. You had every right, of course, to consult him about the best defense. Maybe you were not conversant with the laws. Or perhaps you didn’t like to take advantage, As I was saying, noblesse oblige.”