Simon Stokes reminded me of the wonderful Menagerie books by Victor Mollo as I sat down to play against him and his delightful partner, Verity Joubert. Some of the bridge in the books seems a bit dodgy by today's standards, but the characterisation of the individual players (The Hideous Hog, The Rueful Rabbit, Papa the Greek and Karapet the free Armenian, to name but a few) has never been bettered. So, without sounding at all like Karapet Djoulikyan, who constantly bemoans his appalling luck and even more appalling partners, it is nice to relate a board when something went right.
This was Board 5
East North West South
Pass Pass 1♥
3♥(1) Dbl 3NT(2) 4♥
Pass Pass 5♣(3) Pass
Pass Dbl(4) Pass 5♥(5)
Pass Pass Pass
(1) Stop-Ask. Requests partner to bid 3NT with a heart stop. By implication shows a 7 or 8 card solid suit (usually a minor) with little outside strength.
(2) Showing a heart stop
(3) Rightly judging that his side likely had, at most, three defensive tricks against 4♥, while partner was likely to hold two or more hearts. Therefore confident that 5♣ would not go more than two off and, if doubled, a likely score would be -300 against the -420 or -450 from a making 4♥ contract.
(4) My double was based on more than just heart support, partner
(5) South has to decide whether to take the medicine of a small penalty or push again for game. Feeling that she had something in hand and that the auction had not developed favourably, accepting the push to 5♥ does not seem unreasonable.
The bidding had been revealing. East could see that it was most unlikely that a club would cash at trick one, whereas partner might well have the ♥A, so he led his singleton spade. Declarer won on the table with the ace but when she played a trump, West won and gave East his spade ruff. Declarer still had an unavoidable diamond loser, so that was one off - giving E/W all the matchpoints.
I don't suppose that Verity has a drop of Armenian blood in her.
Victor Mollo: Bridge in the Menagerie: The Winning Ways of the Hideous Hog by Batsford (reprinted 2003)