Alice in Four Spade Land
By Ray Adams
One day Alice was partnered with the Dormouse against the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter. Every time she had the Dormouse for her partner she recalled the time she and he had visited No Trump Land. It had been so curious. And it had only gotten curioser and curioser as the day went on. Well, there was nothing to it but to bid the hands and see how the play went. The following hand was the first of the day:
The Dormouse opened his two point hand with a pre-emptive spade bid and he was soon at the helm of a four spade contract. The Queen of Hearts led her singleton club, and this went to the ten, queen, and eight. The Mad Hatter was in remission from his unfortunate bout with mercury poisoning and was quick to observe that the Dormouse had played the eight of clubs, not the five. This surely meant that the good queen had led from the top of a doubleton.
Putting his reasoning into action, the Hatter banged down the king of hearts, ruffed by the Dormouse, as the queen got an ugly look on her face.
“Why the queen looks positively nasty,” Alice thought to herself. “I’ll bet her club lead was a singleton.”
The Dormouse now led the jack of spades, taken by the queen’s ace. The queen quickly put the three of diamonds on the table. The Dormouse played low from dummy and the Hatter won his king. The Dormouse played the jack of diamonds on this trick.
“Goodness,” Alice thought, “the jack of diamonds must be a singleton, else why would the Dormouse play it? But then why would the Dormouse even think he needed to finesse? Surely he has a fistful of clubs.” And Alice waited for the Hatter to lead a club for the Queen of Hearts to ruff and set the contract. Instead, the Mad one exited with another heart, ruffed by the Dormouse. The Queen of Hearts violently tossed a heart on the table on this trick and glared murderously at the Hatter.
The tiny declarer now played dummy’s last two trumps, then cashed the ace and queen of diamonds. He called for the ace of clubs, tossing the five of clubs on this trick. When the Queen of Hearts followed with a heart, she banged it on the table so hard that all the teacups flew into the air and sent warm tea over the yard and into the rose garden.
“Why do I have to be partnered by an idiot?” she yelled.
“I can see it now, my good queen,” the Hatter said. “But the Dormouse’s eight fooled me.”
“Trust your partner or off with your head,” the queen shouted.
The Dormouse then ruffed a club and ran the rest of his spades, causing the queen to have to make a choice between the ten of diamonds and the ace of hearts at trick twelve. The queen was unable to part with the high card in her suit and tossed the seemingly worthless ten of diamonds. The Dormouse now produced the nine of diamonds for the tenth and game-going trick.
The good queen could not wait to begin chewing out the Mad Hatter as soon as the players had agreed upon the outcome.
“Why can’t you return my lead?” she said. “Off with your head! Off with your head!” The Mad Hatter gripped his hat most firmly, as though the queen’s words were a strong wind threatening to blow his hat off his head.
Meanwhile, Alice was looking through the cards that had been scattered on the table.
“Why, the queen and the Hatter can make five hearts,” she said to herself. Then she noticed that there were four spades in the rose garden and that the garden itself was guarded by all the spade spotcards, from the two up to the ten. And there were statues of the jack, queen, king, and ace of spades in the yard. It was then that she realized they had fallen into Four Spade Land.
“Well, that explains a lot,” Alice said out loud. “Now it’s not so curious why the Hatter could not lead back a club and why the Dormouse and the queen tossed good tricks. Four Spades was always going to make in its own kingdom.”
And so, the four of them dealt another hand, and this time the Queen of Hearts ended up declaring four spades.
Readers who have not read the blog “Alice in No Trump Land” can find it in these blog archives. It originally appeared on 21 July 2014