While Mr. Careful was shaving in the morning, he allowed himself a faint smile, remembering the distributional monster from the club the previous evening. Never had he seen anything like it – but he and his partner, Mrs. Stout, had been able to cope with the bidding problem:
|Dlr: West||♠ K Q 7 4|
|Vul: Both||♥ Q 8 7 5 3|
|BD: 10||♦ A 7 5|
|♠ A J 10 3 2||♠ 5|
|♥ —||♥ A K 6 4 2|
|♦ —||♦ K Q J 8 4 3|
|♣ K Q J 10 8 6 5 4||♣ A|
|♠ 9 8 6|
|♥ J 10 9|
|♦ 10 9 6 2|
|♣ 7 3 2|
This was the ultimate self-restraint by both East and West. He remembered how his first inclination had been to bid 7NT when he heard his partner reverse with 2♥, but he had controlled himself. His 4♣ established clubs as trumps. And how clever of Mrs. Stout to realize that only top honors in spades and clubs were of interest and to bid 5♣, thereby denying a spade honor!
After North had led the obvious trump, Mr. Careful had discarded two spades on the ♥A K and made exactly 11 tricks. He was certain that this would prove to be a top. Who else would be able to stop in time?
He could hardly wait to go into town to discuss this remarkable hand with his less successful fellow club members. The weather was bad, but Mr. Careful could not wait for the rain to stop. The first person he met was the postman, Mr. Timid. It occurred to Mr. Careful that maybe Mr. Timid had been so afraid of the distribution that he had not even reached game.
“What did you think of that terrible hand yesterday?” Mr. Timid shouted before Mr. Careful could say anything himself, “I never thought that I ever would play 3NT with a double void.”
Mr. Careful was taken aback. 3NT? A ridiculous contract, but the postman was whistling for joy.
“The bidding was nothing to be proud of, I guess. My partner opened 1♦ and rebid 2♥ over my 2♣. I realized that the misfit was extreme and simply closed the bidding with 3NT. And you know, I think that it is my best played hand ever!” he continued, almost unable to control his satisfaction.
“Never have I been so afraid as when I ducked North’s ♠K opening lead. He was certain that his partner’s ♠8 was a come-on signal and continued a low spade. I discarded the ♣A from dummy, won the ♠10 in hand and went on to cash eight clubs and the ♠A. Ten tricks and 630. Oh, I am sorry – maybe I should have asked what you did first.”
“No, you have every reason to be proud of your result. Indeed, I think that you will be the only ones to improve on our 5♣ bid and made,” said Mr. Careful.
The postman did not care about the rain, thinking about his nice 3NT. And his result on a difficult hand was better than that of Mr. Careful. Mr. Timid was not whistling any more – he was singing in the rain.
Somewhat disappointed, Mr. Careful went down the road to get his newspaper at the newsstand. Mr. Bad News handed it to him with a broad smile.
“You, too, must have been thinking about that monstrous hand from yesterday!” he almost cried. “A most difficult hand it was, and we nearly got too high. The most difficult bid in bridge is pass, but, as you know, ‘a pass in time saves the day.’”
Fearing the worst, Mr. Careful almost dared not ask but had to: “You mean that double-void hand, I presume. We bid that rather nicely to 5♣ and made it. What did you do?”