"I've never seen either of you play so well," said a kibitzer, admiringly, to Timothy and the Rabbit.
"True," agreed the Hog, "but that's only because, being so noble, they were both trying to play badly." And he proceeded to explain that without the two underruffs the Rabbit's last five cards would have all been trumps. He would have had to ruff declarer's third diamond and then return a trump into the queen-10-8. The Toucan would have exited with his last club and again the Rabbit would have been compelled to ruff and to lead a trump up to the queen-10. Instead of going down one, the Toucan would have made an overtrick.
The guardian angel was in action once more on the deal shown above.
Anticipating litt e danger that partner would play this hand, Papa bid normally. To the Hog, a lead from his long, broken heart suit appeared unattractive, and, in fact, it would have allowed declarer to make 11 tricks after the routine safety play of a club to the 9. Seeing no future in diamonds either, H.H. led the spade 9.
Papa won with the spade ace, laid down the club ace, noted with a raised eyebrow the Hog's deuce of diamonds and continued with the diamond ace and king. When, on the king, the Rueful Rabbit threw the heart 2, the Greek closed his eyes the better to see the East-West hands. The heart king came into view at once. Since the Hideous Hog was marked with not fewer than five hearts, his only reason for not leading one must have been a reluctance to play away from the king. Regretfully Papa gave up the idea of setting up his clubs, since before he could enjoy that suit the Rabbit would take three spades and two clubs. Yet how could the contract be made without bringing in the clubs?
The solution came to Papa in a flash. At trick five he cashed his spade king, and, exiting with the trey, put the Rabbit in the lead. With a confident smile he detached the ace of hearts, making ready to throw it on R.R.'s fourth spade.
In the postmortem, just before rigor mortis set in, the Greek gave us the key to his spectacular line of play. "Being virtually certain that the Hog had the heart king," he told us, "it didn't matter to me whether the Rabbit had four spades or five. He couldn't take more than three tricks anyway. When he exited with a heart the Hog would be forced to give me an entry to dummy's diamonds. All I had to do was get rid of my heart ace before a heart was led."
Such was Papa's pretty plan, and it surely would have succeeded but for an unforeseeable move by the Rabbit. Instead of cashing his two good spades, he switched to a heart. Papa was helpless. He played low but, as he had guessed from the first, H.H. had the king. A heart return to Papa's ace, still there to mock him, locked him firmly in the closed hand. Only an end play in clubs allowed him to escape for one down.
Ignoring the Hog's euphoric sneers, Papa turned to the Rabbit. "I know you didn't mean it, but why did you do it? Surely you must have felt like making the most of those two splendid spades while you had the chance. What made you turn to hearts all of a sudden?"
"Perhaps I am not as unknowledgeable as you think," replied R.R. with quiet dignity. "You wanted me to lead spades so that you could rectify the count, as they say, so that I should help you squeeze my partner...."