Non-bridge players, look away now.

We sat down to a friendly Sunday afternoon rubber, and had already played four hands when Massimo declared, “I have only twelve cards”. Everyone counted, and everyone else also had only 12 cards. This was odd. We searched everywhere on the table, under the score pads, beneath ashtrays, everywhere. It seemed impossible for an entire trick to have vanished with no trace, but it had. After a little more looking, I suggested we look in the empty card box. And there were the queen, jack, ten and another club.

No-one understood how we had managed two entire 12-card hands entirely satisfactorily. And when we quizzed Massimo as to how he had realized, he replied that he had a perfectly balanced hand, only it was too balanced; 3, 3, 3, 3.

Oh, how we laughed.

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