Life on the farm had not changed much, with " equality " still the norm.......except when it came to playing bridge. Here, there were two clear divisions : those who can play the game ......and those who can't. Indeed, all the animals took up big stakes rubber bridge as a way of enhancing their modest income, which of course came from an equal share of the farm's weekly profits. This year the farm was holding a winner-takes-all rubber bridge tournament, where the triumphant pair would walk away with all the booty. The last two pairs, who made it through to the final play-off were the much fancied Chicken Licken and Billy Boy Boxer, up against the rank outsiders Percy Pig and Orson Carte.
Now down to the last few boards, both pairs were level on 19500 points in the race to reach 20,000 first. One successful game bid and made could secure victory for either of them. Percy Pig was first to bid. He had been wallowing for some time in the glory of a remarkable come back from being several thousand down. He was now ready to bring home the bacon to please his wife, but the hand he picked up filled his head with both dismay and disappointment : xx....x...Q1098xxxx....QJ. Reluctantly, Percy elected to pass, as did Billy-Boy.
Orson, who was born on another farm not far from Canterbury, had come to regard his partner as " the hideous hog ". Trying to end up as declarer had been like flogging a dead horse......but Percy had been playing like a demon over the last few rubbers......pulling in one contract after another. Who the hell said pigs can't fly ? However, his hand was also bereft of HCPs except for two Black Beauties ( Aces ) : Axx...xx....Jxx.....Axxxx.
He too elected to pass.
In the fourth seat was Chicken Licken, who was now looking cock-a-hoop. His hand was almost a two-level opener : KJ10....AKQ10xx......A.....xxx, but 1H was his preferred bid. Again Percy passed, but Billy Boy suddenly had his tail up too. His Q10xxx....Jxxx....K......Kxx surely was enough to make 4H a simple formality. He wanted to go home top dog, looking to give some of the winning stake money to his girlfriend Kay Nine. So the 4H bid hit the table, followed by two more passes.
But Percy Pig had other ideas. He too wanted the money for his piggy bank.....and so a 5D sacrifice might well keep them in the match.....at least for a bit longer. Two more passes quickly followed. Chicken Licken was at the cross-roads. Aware his mind was tiring ( he was no spring chicken anymore ), he knew much depended on making the right call. He needed this tournament win to keep his place in the top of pecking order. He couldn't risk 5H, when a double might be far more profitable. To bid on could leave him with egg on his face. Laying down a " double " was his best option alright. And it was this bid that ended the auction.
Billy Boy pondered hard and long. " You to find a lead " said Orson, whose dry throat made his voice sound rather hoarse. Thinking that the jack of hearts seemed the best bet, he was pleasantly surprised when it won the first trick. On seeing a second heart in dummy, he decided to continue with the suit ! How wrong that turned out to be. This was ruffed by Percy, who prompted led out a small diamond felling both the stiff king and Ace. A belated switch by Chicken to a spade was taken in dummy with the Ace, and after a successful club finesse, followed by the suit being ruffed out, there was an established club set up in dummy to provide a parking space for Percy's losing spade. Contract made.
Percy Pig, despite having a stye in his eye, winked at his partner. This was the Trigger for Orson to rear up in delight. A quick gallop poll of the onlooking kibitzers certainly revealed how much they wanted Percy to win . Chicken Licken was now spitting feathers, unable to keep his pecker up. He knew his final bid wasn't up to scratch. Billy Boy then barked at him in no uncertain terms : " I have a bone to pick with you. Not only was it a foul double......but you could have overtaken my jack of hearts, switching to a spade before the diamonds had been played. " Chicken stretched out his neck and replied : " Don't give me that innocent hang-dog look.....my 10 of hearts was a command to you to lead spades, because if I wanted a heart continuation I would have surely over-taken your jack ....you fool. "
And while those two carried on arguing, the winners slipped away to stuff the prize money in their pockets as fast as they could. Would life on animal farm ever be the same again ?