Parliamentarians pause for bridge
Bridge administrators strive to keep politics and religion out of the game. The players don’t care against whom they are playing, only against which bidding system. Occasionally governments would instruct their teams not to play against certain opponents in international competitions. Happily, though, those days are in the past.
Three decades ago, a team representing the British Houses of Parliament traveled to Stockholm to compete against the Riksdag and other politicians. Today’s deal was played by the Indian Ambassador to Sweden, Pushkar Johari, against the Parliamentary captain, the Duke of Atholl, and his partner, Lord Smith.
In four hearts, declarer won trick one with dummy’s spade king, cashed the heart ace and played a heart to his king. West’s spade discard was an unwelcome sight. How should Ambassador Johari have continued?
To draw trumps would have put the contract all on the diamond finesse. If it won, fine; if it lost, the defenders would have cashed a cascade of clubs.
At the other table, the declarer took the diamond finesse before drawing trumps. Better, but not good enough. East won with the king, put his partner on lead with the club ace and received a diamond ruff. The club king defeated the contract.
The Ambassador found the best play: At trick four, he led a diamond to dummy’s ace. As long as it wasn’t ruffed, he was planning to drive out the diamond king. He could then handle any defense.
When the singleton king fell, there were cries of, “Keep your cards back, Atholl!”