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Bridge in Paradise: by Neil Robinson

Q: Do you know the difference between a serial killer and a bridge player?
A: You can reason with a serial killer.
The most famous fatal bridge game was bridge at the Bennetts. On Sept 29, 1929, in Kansas City, Missouri, John and Myrtle Bennett sat down to play bridge against their neighbours, Charles and Mayme Hoffman. John, sitting South, dealt the hand below and opened 1S. His wife raised him to 4S. Unfortunately, he went down. His wife goaded him about his poor play. The argument escalated to such a point that his wife shot him dead. Not surprisingly, this created a sensation. Myrtle was tried for murder, but the jury ruled the killing accidental. It is reported that she continued playing bridge, but encountered some difficulty finding a partner.

John certainly overbid when he opened his ace-less 10 points. I like Myrtle’s aggressive 4S call however. West led the ace of diamonds and shifted to the jack of clubs. South won the king in hand and led the jack of trumps (to tempt a cover by the queen). When West did not cover, he went up with the ace and led the spade 10. East showed out and he won with the king in hand. Next, declarer trumped a diamond in dummy, played the ace of clubs and then the club nine. East covered with the queen and declarer trumped with the five of spades. West over ruffed with the queen and cashed the ace of hearts. At this point, EW had taken three tricks. So far, NS had taken only five tricks, two top spades, two top clubs and a diamond ruff and declarer had to take the rest. This was the situation as West led a low heart:

Declarer won the heart lead with the king. Unfortunately, he could not get to dummy to cash the good clubs and throw away his losing hearts. So, he ran his trumps and went down two. Overall, I like his line of play. He was extremely close to making the contract. He just made one small error. Can you see what it was?
His error was ruffing the club with the five. If he had only ruffed with the eight he could have saved his life! Then, he can lead the five of spades to the six on board and cash the good clubs. He makes the last five tricks with the king of hearts, two clubs and two trumps, for a total of ten tricks. I wonder whether he had time to regret his error.
I would like to hear from readers about their favourite hands—please do contact me at [email protected] Bridge Club of Chiang Mai welcomes all players. We have members from seventeen different countries already. For information on the Club go to the web site

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Bridge in Paradise