Alice Revisits No Trump Land
By Ray Adams
Alice’s last experience in No Trump Land had been so traumatic, it was almost three years before she decided to visit this unusual kingdom again. This time, it was the Mad Hatter who sat across from her, while the Dormouse was to her left and the Queen of Hearts to her right. This was the first hand she picked up:
Alice opened 1♦ calmly, never expecting the eventual outcome of this innocent start. The Dormouse overcalled 1♠. Now the Mad Hatter, perhaps still suffering from the aftereffects of his bout with mercury poisoning, bid a resounding two hearts. The Queen of Hearts was the soul of discretion, passing calmly after having heard her two opponents bid her best suits. Now Alice had a good hand, to be sure, and a most likely spade stopper, so she competed with a two no trump bid. This was, after all, No Trump Land. Everyone else had heard enough, especially the Dormouse who was much too timid to bid his six card suit at the three level.
Alice gasped when the dummy came down and she saw the extreme lack of points in the hatter’s hand.
“You bid two hearts with that?” She said.
“How else would you know I had five hearts?” the Mad One said.
“How else indeed,” Alice muttered under her breath. But there was nothing to it but to play the hand.
The Dormouse started with the king of spades, normally a fine choice, but this time it was overtaken by the good queen’s singleton ace, a wonderful development for Alice. The queen shifted to the king of diamonds, won by Alice’s ace. Alice saw her only hope was to establish some diamond tricks, so she immediately shot back the ten of diamonds, taken by the queen’s jack. The Queen of Hearts now tried her suit – hearts – and Alice hopefully played the queen. When the Dormouse won his king, the Queen of Hearts chanted, “The Queen of Hearts is not for tarts. Only a king can win a queen. Silly girl. Off with her head.”
The Dormouse now continued his attack on spades, cashing the queen and then leading the ten. Meanwhile, the Queen of Hearts held on to her favorite suit – hearts – while tossing the five and eight of diamonds. When Alice saw the eight of diamonds fall, her heart skipped a beat. She now had a fighting chance to win this contract!
She won her jack of spades and exited with the nine of diamonds to the queen’s queen. The good queen now played another heart, taken by Alice’s ace. But our heroine now had two good diamonds to cash. The first diamond did not cause the Dormouse any pain. He was able to toss a club. His last four cards were three clubs to the queen and the high nine of spades. The Queen of Hearts, still obsessed with dummy’s heart suit, tossed a club on the seven of diamonds.
Now, when Alice cashed her last diamond, the Dormouse was truly squeezed because of the good queen’s club discard. The poor creature could not hold onto both three clubs and the high spade. Dummy’s last three cards were the ace, ten, and seven of clubs. So, when the Dormouse threw another club on the last diamond, Alice was able to gather in the last three tricks with clubs and claim this improbable contract. Making two no trump by South on this hand was nothing short of a miracle, but Alice had pulled it off.
“Off with her head, off with her silly head. Director, director,” the good queen yelled.
The Ten of Spades soon made an appearance. This Ten, being the highest of all the Intermediate Cards, was extremely conscious of his rank.
“What’s going on here, my good Queen,” he said. “How may I serve you?”
Alice already did not like the way this was going.
“This upstart has no business making two trump from the South seat. Off with her head,” the queen explained.
“We shall see, your majesty,” the Ten of Spades said. “Please allow me to consult the notes given us for each hand by the Lord Deep Finesse.” The ten took out a piece of paper, put on a pair of bifocal eyeglasses, and hmmed and hawed as he read the paper.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right, your majesty,” the ten said. “Lord Deep Finesse allows West to make either one no trump or two spades on this hand. There is nothing here about South making anything at all, much less two trump.”
“And yet I made it,” Alice said defiantly.
“Please do not allow the facts to get in the way of the truth,” the Ten of Spades said. “If Lord Deep Finesse does not allow it, then it cannot be allowed.” He turned to the Mad Hatter, who would be the one to write down the score for this board. “Please score it as one no trump by West, making two.”
“But that’s an outrage!” Alice screamed.
“Off with her head, off with her head,” the Queen of Hearts screamed right back.
“Please keep your voice lower so as not to disturb the other players,” the Ten of Spades said, speaking directly to Alice, not the queen who was actually the noisier of the two. “If you don’t, there will be a further penalty. Lord Deep Finesse has spoken. That is all.” And he marched off.
Alice played several more hands, but her heart– and her hearts – were no longer in it and she soon left No Trump Land after having turned in a 28% game, much to the Queen of Heart’s delight.
“How very interesting and different this land is,” Alice thought to herself as she sought the rabbit hole exit. “But I’m not sure I really belong here.” Even so, it was not long before Alice returned and had other adventures, but those are stories for another time.