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Few alibis in that marvelous and seemingly bottomless grab bag of excuses carried by bridge players are as popular as the one that goes, "Sorry, partner, I misplaced a card." A friend of mine recently got involved—I use the word advisedly—with a partner who opened with a vulnerable bid of two no trump. My friend gave a single raise. The bid was doubled, my colleague redoubled and the pair went down 1,600 points. Friend glared at his partner, plainly asking for an explanation, no matter how silly. "Misplaced a card," the fellow said weakly. "Only one card?" my friend asked.
Equally sorry is that saw, delivered with galling bravado, "Sorry, old boy, I pulled the wrong card." And that brings us to the current offering. Raise not your scornful eyebrows in my direction. I am merely the reporter in the case.
Not everything was bad about this hand. At the start the bidding was reasonable enough. Though some players are reluctant to open with a demand bid on freak hands where the minimum high-card requirement is held, the two-diamond bid will pass muster. However, it should be noted that there is always the danger that partner will have high cards in the void suit, on the basis of which he may decide to bid an unmakeable slam. Over the four-diamond bid, North's call of four hearts is not objectionable. Common sense suggests that this is an ace-showing bid, for North could hardly be trying to play the hand at a heart contract since his partner had already bid diamonds and spades. But it seems to me that somewhere along the line South should have taken time out to describe a rebiddable spade suit. His leap to six no trump with a void in partner's suit was something of a monstrosity. Actually, six clubs would not have been a bad contract and would have been defeated only because East was in position to lead a singleton spade.
West's lead of the spade jack was won by declarer's queen. It was evident that spades would not break and unlikely that diamonds would either. To make his slam, declarer had to bring in dummy's clubs, and this required two entries to dummy. The double suggested that West held the king of hearts, so chances were that dummy's ace-jack of hearts would do the trick.
But when South led the 2 of hearts the king fell from West's hand, instantly followed by his horrified apology: "Sorry, partner; I pulled the wrong card."
"Oh, take it back," South volunteered. "We don't enforce the laws so strictly." Who is to say that his magnanimity was influenced by the fact that only the play of the king could rob North of the two required entries? However, to West the law was the law; once played, a card could not be taken back.
From then on, declarer had no hope. He abandoned the clubs and, when the diamonds did not split, he went down two tricks. For a tag line, I cannot improve on East's fervent comment: "Partner, if that's what happens when you play the wrong card, imagine what we'll do to them when you play the right one."