A Knave and a Nine
By Ray Adams
There was a wild party just the other night at the Royal Honors Club hosted by the Knave of Spades and his special guest from Intermediate Place, the Nine of Hearts. It all came about as a result of the following exciting hand:
All the Aces, Kings, Queens, plus the other three Knaves gathered around the table where the Knave of Spades was holding court. “My Master, Mr. South, opened three diamonds vulnerable, holding no more than seven diamonds to the queen and knave and me as the only honor card outside his trump suit.”
“A very brave Master, indeed,” the Queen of Diamonds observed, blushing prettily.
“Then Ms. North, holding a full 19 points, jumped to five diamonds, having the utmost confidence in my Master,” the Knave continued. “But how interesting, that when Masters and Mistresses count points they almost always leave out the valuable intermediates. And to think, if dummy had not included my good friend, the Nine of Hearts, this contract could not have been made.”
Upon hearing his name, the Nine of Hearts bowed and touched his knee to the floor, showing both humility and honor. The royal pasteboards lightly applauded.
“Mr. West led the Seven of Hearts and my Master took a chance and inserted the queen. When this held, he played the ace, tossing a club. He then ruffed dummy’s deuce of hearts to get to his hand. He led the Queen of Diamonds, intending to finesse, but when Mr. West sluffed a heart, he played dummy’s ace and continued with dummy’s small diamond. Ms. East won her king and exited with a diamond. Mr. West won and drew the remaining trumps, then paused to ponder his next move.”
“Hear, hear,” the gathered royalty cheered. “Let’s have another round.”
The Knave of Spades paused in his story until all the royal thirsts were quenched, then continued.
Mr. South now led a club to dummy’s king, but Ms. East won her ace and returned a club, ruffed by my Master. He now knew it was impossible to make the contract unless Mr. West held the King of Spades, but even then he needed something else. He needed dummy’s Nine of Hearts to threaten Mr. West’s King.”
The Nine of Hearts screwed up his face into the most threatening look he could imagine and made his hands into fists as he stared down the King of Hearts, who was in a good mood and laughing most heartily.
“Mr. South led out all his trumps, until all he had left in his hand was one small trump and three spades to me,” the Knave of Spades said modestly. “Mr .West had three spades to the King and the King of Hearts, while dummy had three spades to the Ace and Queen, plus our special guest, the Nine of Hearts.” Upon hearing his name again, the Nine of Hearts raised his flagon high in the air.
“Mr. West pondered and pondered, but he knew he had to save his high heart, so he finally threw a spade. Now the Nine of Hearts was let go, having done an incredible job of intimidation. Mr. South took the spade finesse, then played the ace, upon which fell the King. And I took the game-going trick.”
“What bravery, what play!” the gathered royalty shouted, toasting the Knave of Spades and his special guest.
It was a great night for the dark Knave, but he wisely decided to leave the party early. He well knew the habits of the King of Spades. This worthy was most congenial when merely tipsy, but after about five ales, he usually became quite belligerent, especially if a mere knave had made a fool of him.