Bridge

B. Jay Becker, the former editor of this column, was playing in a tournament many years ago in Juan-les-Pins, France, when this deal arose. His partner was Dorothy Hayden, and their East-West opponents were two Frenchmen they had never seen before. West doubled two diamonds, which was certainly reasonable, and led a spade.

Mrs. Hayden, South, won East’s queen with her ace and returned a low heart.

Fearful that the heart might be a singleton, West rose with the ace, on which East — who wanted no other suit led — played the jack. West then returned a heart, won by South with the ten.

Aware that the trumps were stacked against her, Mrs. Hayden now led a low diamond from her hand. West won with the ten but was endplayed! Whatever he returned, he had to give away a trick.

Hoping to find East with the king of clubs, West played the A-10 of that suit. Mrs. Hayden won with the king and returned the five of diamonds, again putting West in a losing position.

If he took the jack and exited with a club, declarer would ruff and play the ace and another trump to force West to play a heart to the K-Q. And if he ducked the diamond, hoping East could win the trick, West would lose one of his trump tricks. West was thoroughly licked, and he knew it. In practice he ducked, and Mrs. Hayden made two diamonds doubled.

Later that day, Rixi Markus, England’s top woman player, approached Becker and said West had asked her: “Who is that tall, attractive English woman who is such a good player?”

Mrs. Markus, recognizing from the description that it was Mrs. Hayden, answered: “If she’s attractive and English, she’s not a good player; if she’s English and a good player, she’s not attractive; and if she’s attractive and a good player, she’s not English!”

Tomorrow: Things are tough all over.