composed by Hugh Darwen, 1973
South to make five diamonds against any lead by West.
See also Competition Problem 165c.
After my collaboration with Victor Mollo on my book Bridge Magic (1973) he several times asked me for double dummy compositions to use in his annual "Walpurgis Night" articles. This was one of those and it first appeared in his column in the London Evening Standard on May 1st, (Walpurgis Night) in 1973. Mollo later reused it in his regular Bridge Magazine column, in the May 1977 issue, reproduced below. The problem is the last of the three deals described.
THE HOG DEFIES THE DEVIL
"THE devil's getting old," scoffed the Hideous Hog. "He's not what he used to be in my young days. As for his girlfriends. . ." A deprecatory gesture rounded off the sentence.
We were discussing the strange events of the night before, Walpurgis, when according to ancient lore, the witches ride out on broomsticks for a tryst with their master, the devil.
April 30th is by tradition gala night at the Griffins. The Witches' Sabbath always presents a challenge, bringing with it a sense of danger and excitement. As night falls and the cards dance to the devil's tune there's a shock for someone on every deal. And so it was this time.
The overture was a hand starring Walter the Walrus, the club's premier exponent of the point-count. A retired accountant from earliest youth, the Walrus is dedicated to figures and firmly believes that it is more honourable to go down with points to spare than to bring home a flimsy contract on suspect values. As he sorted his hand, there was a flash of lightning in the still night sky, then peals of thunder, drawing nearer and nearer. With Oscar the Owl, our Senior Kibitzer, I sat down between the Hog and the Walrus, who picked up: ♠ Q109 ♥ KJ ♦ KQ ♣ AKQJ109.
I was wondering whether, after opening two clubs, he would rebid three clubs or three no-trumps, when the Rueful Rabbit, who dealt as West, put an end to all speculations by opening one spade.
Fearing, no doubt, that opponents might have a cheap save in hearts, the Walrus cautiously refrained from redoubling. Why paint the lily?
Rightly interpreting the double as a command for a spade lead, the Rabbit played the six of spades to the Hog's king of spades. The ten of hearts came back. This was the deal in full.
After the two top hearts the Rabbit played a third one to the Hog's nine of hearts. A spade came back, followed by an avalanche of spades and hearts. When the last one glided across the green baize the Walrus remained with three cards-the king and queen of diamonds and the ace of clubs. Which should he throw? After detaching and replacing each one in turn, he finally let go the ace of clubs and much to his surprise R.R. scored the penultimate trick with the six of clubs. The ace of diamonds followed. "Curious hand," observed O.O., "the only card in the club suit to win a trick was the six."
An owl hooted jubilantly from a tree in the garden.
The Walrus was spluttering indignantly. "Their 19 points made thirteen tricks, my 21 made none. I am no egalitarian, but such flagrant injustice is an affront to the laws of the universe." On the next deal H.H. became declarer, so for the sake of convenience I make him South on the diagram below.
Love all; dealer South.
Over one diamond W.W.'s two no-trumps showed the other
minor and spades. Over one club the twosuiter
would have been in diamonds and hearts.
On any other night the Hog would
have boldly bid three no-trumps, but with sinister forces abroad it was too
dangerous. And so the easy game in no-trumps was missed, the first round going
to the powers of darkness.
Feeling in his bones that the
cards would be bewitched, the Hog nearly passed four diamonds. Then his nature
rebelled. Was he, H.H., to defer to the devil's minions? Perish the thought.
Satan might be a name to conjure with in the nether regions, but when it came to
bridge the Hog would soon show him who was master.
A gust of wind broke in harshly on
W.W.'s thoughts as he debated which card to play. With an eerie cry a bat hit
the rattling windowpane, startling the Walrus, and suddenly the king of
diamonds fell out of his hand. The opening lead had been made for him.
Looking at the two hands the
contract appeared to depend on the trump finesse. The ace of diamonds was,
however the only entry to the ace of hearts. If the Hog went up with the ace of
diamonds, the ace of hearts would be dead. If he ducked he would have a trump
loser and, at best, ten tricks.
After some thought, the Hog played
low from dummy, following with the five of diamonds from his hand. What he lost
on the swings he would gain on the roundabouts and there was a distinct
possibility on the bidding that the king of diamonds was bare, in which case a
trump loser was in any case inevitable.
A junior kibitzer, unaccustomed to
watching bridge for high stakes, came over nervously to join us. Oscar put him
in the picture.
"Declarer has only ten
tricks," he explained, "but West has advertised length in both black
suits, so he may be vulnerable to a squeeze.
"One of the ace-kings is
played off," pursued O.O., "and the menace card in that suit is now in
dummy. Declarer plays off his winners and er..."
"But surely, sir,"
interjected the J.K., "the squeeze card must come from dummy and if
declarer plays off his winners he will end up in his hand."
Having no answer, 0.0. tried to
The faint sound of a mocking
chuckle came from somewhere near the chandelier.
At Trick 2 the Walrus led the
queen of spades. Had he had another trump he would have doubtless played it, so
the king of diamonds was surely a singleton.
The Hog won with the ace of spades
and cashed the king of hearts. As the Walrus followed with the ten of hearts,
the Hog's eyes narrowed a fraction. At Trick 4 he overtook the ten of diamonds
with dummy's ace and led a low heart, ruffing with the knave of diamonds. When
the Walrus dropped the queen of hearts, the Hog's lips curved contemptuously in
At this point, every card was
marked, this being the full deal:
Watching Timothy the Toucan
intently, the Hog laid down the king of spades, then the ace of clubs. When
neither was ruffed, he gave a triumphant whoop, and after cashing the queen of
diamonds, swished the two of diamonds across the table, almost into the Toucan's
lap. It was quite a while before he realised that the trick was his.
The inevitable heart return into
dummy's tenace inexorably squeezed the Walrus. The Hog threw a spade and a club
from the closed hand, but the Walrus couldn't retain both a spade and a guard in
clubs. He let go a club and the Hog's six of clubs scored the eleventh trick.
"A fateful card, that six of
clubs," observed 0.0. "It looked as if the contract hinged on not
losing a trump. Declarer lost two and made it. Very odd."
the Hog. "I wonder who cast that spell. Some beardless young witch still
serving her novitiate, I bet. Fancy overlooking that two of diamonds. All she
had to do was to give it to East. Though mind you," he added as an
afterthought, "that Toucan would have probably thrown it away at Trick 1.
Toucans and their like don't deserve deuces."
Two misdeals were followed by a
throw-in. Expecting the unexpected, no one dared to open the bidding without
something to spare.
As Timothy the Toucan dealt the
next hand the temperature dropped and the roses on the mantelpiece suddenly
withered, shedding their petals.
A toad croaked.
With Oscar I walked round the
table to see all four hands.
"Curious hand," observed 0.0. "Whoever ends up as declarer will find the cards
stacked against him. West, despite his near-solid ninecard suit and
well-placed king of diamonds, can't make even three clubs. North can't make
three hearts. East may just about make one spade. And what can South make?"
Oscar didn't have long to wait for
T. T. HH.
4 ♣ 4 ♥
Dble. 5 ♦
The Hog's three no-trumps was
certainly foolhardy, but there was good sense in his bid of five diamonds. The
Rabbit couldn't have a spade, and since he hadn't doubled four clubs, he was
marked with at least three diamonds, probably four and maybe even five.
Having doubled in a rage-what else
could he do when his nine-card suit was so cavalierly brushed aside? -the Walrus
led the ace of clubs, then the queen of clubs. When the Toucan showed out at
Trick 1 every card came into view. Admittedly, he had doubled four hearts in a
panic, fearful of playing the hand in clubs, but even so he wouldn't have done
it without six hearts, and that left no room for a diamond.
Where could H.H. find eleven
It was easy enough to unblock the
hearts by jettisoning the ace of hearts on the king of clubs, but that would
only leave ten tricks-four hearts, four diamonds, the king of clubs and the ace
of spades-and there was the further problem of drawing trumps, cashing the ace
of spades and then getting over to dummy. And yet, without bringing in the
prospects would be gloomier still.
A blast of cold air sent a shiver
down the spine. The Hog didn't seem to notice it. To the queen of clubs he
followed low from dummy and ruffed with the queen of diamonds in his hand. The
knave of diamonds followed, West ducking. Next came a low diamond and this time
the Walrus had to go up with his king. If he ducked again, the Hog would lay
down the ace of diamonds and leaving trumps alone, cash his winners, starting
with the ace of spades on which he would discard a heart from the table. If the
Walrus ruffed he would have to put dummy in with the king of clubs and the Hog
would still have a trump left for dummy's second heart loser.
If the Walrus refused to ruff, the
ace of spades would be followed by a low one, ruffed with dummy's last trump.
Then would come the hearts.
So, at Trick 4, W.W. went up with
the king of diamonds and continued with a club to dummy's king.
Again the Hog could use this trick
to unblock the hearts and again he would end up a trick short. And yet, if he
didn't where would he go for tricks ?
"I wonder which sharp horn of
the dilemma he will sit on," murmured Oscar.
The Hog stepped neatly between the
two. To everyone's surprise he
ruffed the king of clubs with the
ace of diamonds and led the two of diamonds, finessing against the nine of
diamonds. This was the position.
On the eight of diamonds the
Toucan threw a heart, but the ten of diamonds applied the coup de grace. If he parted with another heart, the Hog would throw his ace of hearts
and all dummy's hearts would be good. If he bared his king of spades the Hog
would retain the ace of hearts as an entry and score all his spades.
There was no way out.
A bat squeaked piteously. A toad
croaked. The owl hooted again on a low, melancholy note.
The Hog threw open the French
windows. "You can all tell your master," he said defiantly, "that
any time he wants a return match, I shall be ready."
© Hugh Darwen, 2010
Date last modified: 21 January, 2019