The Mouse and the Lion: A Bridge Fable
By Ray Adams
Many lessons can be learned from observing the animal kingdom. Today’s blog is a tale of two bridge-playing animals who once held the same cards. Once in a magical bridge club on the edges of a beautiful savannah, a lion and a mouse were sitting East at different tables when the following hand was played:
Readers should note that in the auction above, South has bid a spade slam and East has the last call to make. When it was the lion’s turn, he roared out a mighty double. This lion was well known for being the king of the local bridge jungle, and his roar inspired fear and respect in all who heard it. The other players at the table quaked with extreme trepidation at this awesome sound.
The lion’s partner led the jack of diamonds, won by declarer’s ace. A spade went to the king and a small one returned, declarer inserting the nine when the lion played low. The jack of clubs went to the ace and another small spade returned, declarer inserting the ten when the lion followed small. The ace and king of spades now picked up all of the lion’s outstanding trumps. Declarer then ran five heart tricks and conceded a club at the end to make this doubled contract and give the lion a big zero.
At the other table, when it was the mouse’s call to make, the humble creature passed meekly and awaited partner’s lead. It was the jack of diamonds, the same as at the lion’s table. This declarer had heard no mighty roar and had no idea danger was lurking in this bridge jungle. After winning the ace of diamonds, declarer cashed the ace of spades, which is the correct play to guard against a possible 4-1 split, with East having four trumps to the jack. Declarer immediately regretted this play when West showed out.
South now led a spade to dummy’s king and finessed the mouse’s jack of spades on the way back. In a desperate move, declarer led the jack of clubs, playing low from the dummy. The mouse won the king and cashed the king of diamonds. He led another diamond, causing declarer to lose control of the hand. The eventual result was down four, plus 400 to the modest mouse, for a top board.
Readers may draw their own moral from this story. But it should be noted that, after this hand was played, the lion’s teeth were pulled and this mighty beast was unable to eat meat any longer. The mouse, on the other hand, had all the cheese he could eat.