The other day, I opened a Christmas card showing Santa carrying a sack full of presents, and was immediately reminded of one of my favourite Boris Schapiro stories. Schapiro was famously mischievous, and here his victim was his partner, Terence Reese. He and Reese were, of course, a legendary pair for two decades from the mid-1940s, and won the world championships in 1955. But their personalities couldn’t have been more different: Reese was aloof and dispassionate, Schapiro cheeky and volatile.
For some reason, their many trophies were stored at Schapiro’s flat, and one evening, Reese popped round to collect some. Using a pillowcase as a sack, he set off home, but was stopped by a policeman who thought he looked suspicious. The policeman asked him to open the pillowcase, and there he saw the gleaming trophies. Reese told him impatiently that he had won them, and could prove it. He led the way back to his friend’s flat and rang the bell. ‘Will you please tell this policeman these trophies are mine?’ he asked when Schapiro answered. Turning to the officer, Schapiro said: ‘I have never seen this person before; why are you bringing a madman to my house?’ Reese purportedly spent the next few hours in a cell, highly unamused.
Luckily, they were always in harmony at the bridge table. This hand comes from a Masters Pairs tournament (there is no record of the bidding):
4♠ is a reasonable contract despite the 4–3 fit. Against many defenders, it would make; not these two. Sitting West, Reese led the ♥Q. Declarer lost two heart tricks and ruffed the third. Next, he played the ♦K… and Reese ducked! He ducked the ♦Q too, and the ♦J, which Schapiro (East) ruffed. Schapiro continued with a fourth heart, and try as he might, declarer could not escape another loser. Merry Christmas, everyone — and may all your finesses be right.