Breaking the saucer by Toine van Hoof (The Netherlands)

Some of you may remember that long, long ago, before Chanel, Guerlain and so many others appeared, 4711 was the most prestigious fragrance around. My father once surprised my mother with a huge bottle of the stuff, but it soon landed in a cupboard in our living room. Every time we had cauliflower or Brussels sprouts for dinner, which seemed like at least twice a week, and we expected guests that evening, for bridge of course, the bottle came out of the cupboard. My mother poured some of the eau de cologne into a little saucer and lit it to eliminate any unwanted odors. I was always fascinated by the small blue flame, dancing on the saucer and with a little luck, as an apotheosis, the over heated saucer broke with a sharp snap.

For us bridge players, 4711 just stands for a hand containing a seven-card suit, a four-card suit and two singletons. This not too common distribution tends to fascinate players and some of us cannot resist the temptation of overbidding on it. Enri Leufkens picked up this aromatic number:

               S T   H JT97653   D 7   C 9843

First in chair, all vulnerable, he opened 3H, which would not be everybody's choice (actually, I checked the records and it was nobody's). His LHO came in with 3S, Berry Westra bid 3NT and a dark-red card, from his RHO, hit the tray. Now what?  Biting the bullet, Leufkens bid 4H, which became the final contract, duly doubled by RHO. This was the full board:

Game All. Dealer East.

                           S 862
                           H KQ84
                           D 532
                           C 762
               S A973              S T
               H 2                 H JT97653
               D AKQT864           D 7
               C A                 C 9843
                           S KQJ54
                           H A
                           D J9
                           C KQJT5


South led the CK and Enri was shocked to see another perfume bottle in dummy, which probably would have provided nine easy tricks in 3NT.  After winning the first trick, he cashed SA, ruffed a spade, ruffed a club with H2 and cashed three high diamonds, throwing clubs from hand. South ruffed with the HA and continued clubs. Enri ruffed but could not escape the loss of three more trump tricks to North. In the other room West went two light in 6D for a push.

Further analysis shows that Enri had uncharacteristically missed a chance for a big swing: CA, SA, spade ruff, club ruff, SPADE RUFF, diamond to the Ace, DK and DQ would have brought home the contract.

Declarer is down to H JT976 and ruffs any black card South continues. Now he exits with a high heart and North's sure three trumps tricks are reduced to two.  Alas, our young world champion must have been hypnotized by the dancing blue flame burning in his hands and the sharp snap of an exploding saucer came too late to awaken him.