While the Griffin Club’s Ethics and Etiquette Committee was pondering the most recent charge against the Hideous Hog for alleged fast practice, a second complaint was brought aganst him by the Emeritus Professor of Bio-Sophistry, better known at the Griffin as Secretary Bird. On the deal in question, the professor was partnered by Walter the Walrus, while the Hog was paired with the Rueful Rabbit. This was the evidence presented to the committee:
|Dlr: South||♠ Q J 10|
|Vul: All||♥ K Q 7 5|
|♦ Q J 9|
|♣ 8 5 3|
|♠ 9 5 4 2||♠ A K 8 7 6 3|
|♥ 6 4 3||♥ A 10 9 8|
|♦ 4 3 2||♦ 5|
|♣ Q J 10||♣ 9 7|
|♥ J 2|
|♦ A K 10 8 7 6|
|♣ A K 6 4 2|
The Hog led the ♠2, and as the Professor reached for dummy’s ♠10, the Rabbit, who was rearranging his hand to make the black suits alternate with the red inadvertently dropped the ♠6, which struck the edge of the table and fluttered to the floor.
“Played card,” snapped the Professor as the Rabbit dived under the table to retrieve it. A jurist by training and inclination, the Secretary Bird was passionately devoted to strict adherence to the laws. “Kindly place the exposed card face upwards on the table as specified in paragraph 45 of the Laws,” he insisted.
“Shouldn’t you waive the penalty?” began Walter the Walrus. “After all. no one could see . . .”
“I name the ♠6,” the Secretary Bird went on inexorably, “and I insist it be played.”
“But if I couldn’t see the card,” persisted W.W., “I am sure that H.H. couldn’t see it either, so . . .”
The Hog who had been strangely quiescent, pensively stroking his chin, suddenly came to life. “I fear,” he said in his silkiest voice, “that I did catch a glimpse. Yes, I’m afraid that ♠6 is, as our friend says, is a played card.”
“I am only stating the law,” said SB defensively. He knew all about Greeks bearing gifts and his experience had taught him that Hogs were just as dangerous.
“That ♠6, dear partner, must be played,” commanded HH, the imperious note returning to his voice, and gathering the deuce, 10 and six of spades together, he presented them to the Professor.
The Secretary Bird hissed venomously. The wild tufts of hair over his ears, which looked like so many quills, stood up belligerently. He suspected something was afoot, but he had no inkling as to what it might be. The one certainty was it was totally uncharacteristic of the Hog to so charitably award an opponent a free trick. But now, what should he play on it from his hand? To throw a heart wouldn’t help, and a club discard would be pointless unless he could get rid of two more. Not long afterward, he conceded defeat.
The Hog winked meaningly at the kibitzers. “I am surprised, Professor,” he mocked, “that a scholar of your distinction should have been so persistent in trying to take advantage of the law. It was in your own best interest to have the Rabbit play the spade honor at trick one, as he obviously wished to do, after which you could have made your contract. You simply ruff his high spade, cross to dummy with a trump and lead the ♥5. If the