The King’s Mistress

by Matthew Kidd

Sooner or later you are going to have to play when you are dead tired. You’ve promised a regular partner you would play and it is too late to back out. But really you just want to collapse into bed. Instead you hallucinate at the bridge table.

On one such evening in August I was South in a pairs game on this deal (rotated). After two passes I opened an off-shape 1N opener, an action I wouldn’t normally take, at least not on this hand. The uncontested auction continued 2♣ 2 3 (Smolen). It’s easy enough to remember Smolen if you just keep in mind that like Jacoby Transfers the goal is to always make the no trump bidder declarer. Therefore, responder was showing five spades and four hearts and we belonged in a spade game. But clear headed thinking was long gone; I got it backwards and bid 3N.

A heart was led, dummy winning, and spades were looking way better than no trump. A bottom seemed inevitable but I thought if I at least made the contract partner might not immediately notice. Two high spades from hand revealed the bad break. If I started diamonds, the defense would surely run clubs.

So I tabled the ♣Q.

West won the ♣A, thought for a bit and returned a diamond, setting up the entire suit, the K providing an entry. Oh what fun I thought, West might even get squeezed in the black suits. On the last diamond he threw the ♣K. So I made six. Actually no. I began to wonder, had I seen the ♣K? Was it really the king? What about the king’s mistress? Had I also squeezed West out of the king’s mistress? Meanwhile the last functioning brain cells were saying, “does it matter? Isn’t +460 going to be a top anyhow?” I lamely cashed the ♠K and got my top, probably the only one that night.