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Play it Again Slam

Play it Again Slam

By In 46th World Bridge Teams Championships On 20th August 2023

Consistently voted one of the best films of all time, Casablanca features a scene where Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine is seen studying a game of chess. Bogart was a keen player, which may explain why the scene is included in the movie. Imagine he had been a bridge aficionado….

Rick Blaine’s plan to deliver Letters of Transit to Ilsa Lund and Victor Laszlo had hit a snag thanks to the arrival of Major Heinrich Strasser and Colonel Heinze who were intent on arresting Victor. To buy some time Rick had suggested a short bridge match. When the last board arrived, it was clear that Rick’s team needed a swing:


Hoping she might be able to give her partner a ruff Ilsa led the QuadriA which collected the four, jack and king. Reflecting that the king might be a false card, she continued with the Quadri5 only to see Victor follow with the six as declarer discarded a heart on dummy’s queen. Having recently read an article in The British Bridge World about developing the side suit before drawing trumps, Signor Ugarte cashed dummy’s CuoriK and noted the appearance of West’s Cuori10. He continued with a heart to the ace, but Ilsa’s ruff meant the contract was one down.

After an identical auction Major Strasser also tried the effect of starting with two rounds of diamonds and here too declarer first move after winning with dummy’s QuadriQ was to cash the ]K. When West followed with the ten Rick saw no harm in cashing dummy’s FioriA and was pleased to see the queen appear. Only then did he continue with a heart to the ace. When West discarded a diamond Rick ruffed a heart, cashed dummy’s top spades discarding a heart and could claim the last five tricks via a high-cross ruff.

That was enough to secure victory and the irate Major Strasser went over to the telephone, clearly intent on summoning troops to arrest Victor. Quick as a flash, a gun appeared in Rick’s hand along with a warning to the Major. When he ignored it Rick shot him. As Captain Renault’s men rushed into the room he calmly informed them, ‘Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.’
As Rick and Captain Renault left the café, Rick said, ‘Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful partnership.’

About the Author

Mark Horton
Mark Horton

Mark Horton British journalist and expert player, was Editor of Bridge Magazine 1995-2017 and now edits the online publication Bridgerama+. At one time, his business cards were inscribed: Have Cards will Travel, but following the death of his most famous sponsor, the Rabbi Leonard Helman, he has tended to concentrate on his writing exploits (in 2018 he had five books published!). Anyone wanting to discover how to lose at bridge on a regular basis (and pay for the privilege) should feel free to contact him. He currently lives in Shrewsbury with his wife Liz.