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Bridge in the Village
By: Fred Gitelman

Originally Published in Canadian Master Point, November, 1992


This story is based on the "The Prisoner", a 1967 British television series starring Patrick McGoohan.

The last thing he remembered was the gas. That night he had resigned his executive position with the World Bridge Federation, fed up with the bureaucracy and corruption. He was at his apartment, packing some important files and preparing to start a new life. As he was about to leave, his apartment began to fill up with gas. The drug worked quickly. As his consciousness faded he knew that they would never let him quit.

He awoke as South. He was in a large room with a single card table in the middle. Spotlights and cameras were everywhere. His partner was a man he had never seen before. His left hand opponent was a midget dressed in a butler suit. His right hand opponent was not human. It looked like a large white balloon, perhaps 6 feet in diameter. The balloon's shape was shifting and it was emitting unpleasant gurgling noises.

His partner said, "You'll have to excuse Rover, he's excited as we almost never have a fourth for bridge".

"Where am I?" asked the Prisoner.

"In the Village Bridge Club."

"Who are you?"

"The new Number 2."

"Who is Number 1?"

"You are Number 6."

"I am not a number, I am a free man."

Everyone seemed to think this was very funny. Slightly bewildered, Number 6 noticed that a bridge hand had been dealt to him. His hand was:

Apparently the auction had already begun as each of the other players had a card from a bidding box on the table. The midget on his left had dealt. It was his turn to bid.

 

Number 6 looked around the table for the opponent's convention card. There was none to be found.

"What do you want?", asked Number 2.

"Information", replied Number 6.

"You won't get any here."

"Whose side are you on?"

"That would be telling."

Number 6 was certainly not going to let this antagonistic partner play the hand so doubling was out. He tried 3NT. The midget passed and his partner raised to 6NT. Rover doubled, Number 6 passed, and the Midget also doubled. Number 2 quickly waived any penalty that this inadmissible double might have brought forth with a prompt redouble. Getting into the spirit of Village bridge, Number 6 also redoubled and all passed. The midget led the 7.

  

Dummy was a disappointment (to say the least). Number 6 was furious. By hook or by crook he would make this hand, but there was some serious work to do. He won the lead in hand and decided to assume that the 2 opening had been a weak 2 bid. To begin with, 4 club tricks would be necessary. This would be possible only if Rover held a singleton J.

Number 6 tried the Q covered by the K and A. Rover followed with the J, giving the contract some hope. The Q was cashed to probe the distribution in that suit. When the midget, on his left, discarded a diamond it appeared that he had begun with 2164 distribution. 4 tricks were required from spades. Number 6 could either play West for the J10 doubleton or the 7x doubleton. As there are 3 7x doubletons and only 1 J10 doubleton, Number 6 played the 9 from the dummy, covered and won in the closed hand.

The 8 was covered by the 9 and won with the 10 as Rover discarded a diamond. The 8 was covered, and when Number 6 won, the midget followed with the 7. Number 6 cashed the 6 as the midget discarded another diamond. The 5 was played, covered by the 6 and won with the 7, Rover pitching a diamond.

Number 6 paused to reflect. The Q would take care of his heart loser, but he would still have to guess the diamonds. As both opponents had doubled, there was little clue as to the location of the missing diamond honours. Then he saw the light. On the Q he discarded the 4. On the 3 Rover was squeezed. Forced to keep both of his hearts, Rover discarded down to a singleton diamond. Number 6 pitched the 3 making it no longer necessary to guess diamonds.

When Number 6 led the 2 and Rover produced the Q, Number 6 covered with the K and knew he was home. But he was not home, he was "In the Village"; the midget proceeded to take his A and lay down another Q.

"Two down," chortled Number 2, "Welcome to the Village".

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