|A Bridge is to a ship, what cockpit is to an aircraft (Pic courtesy: ww2db.com)|
On one such occasion, the Fleet Commander was embarked on a sister ship. We came alongside first on a naval berth in Cochin channel and the Fleet Commander’s ship was still a distance off from coming alongside our ship. It is customary for the Captain to receive the Fleet Commander’s ship but seeing that she would take some more time to make its approach, our CO suggested that we don’t waste any time in closing up on our other Bridge in the wardroom. In our foursome, I was partnering the Captain. The first two games went one each between our opponents and us. In the third game, we got very good cards, and between the Captain and I we arrived at a contract of Seven Hearts, a grand-slam. Captain had to play the hand and I was the dummy.
It was very exciting for us since it is not everyday that you bid and make a grand-slam. It required a great deal of concentration on the CO’s part; to make the bid at least two finesses were required, one each from the East and West players. In the meantime, there was an announcement from the gangway that the Fleet Commander’s ship was approaching and berthing party was required to close-up to assist that ship in coming alongside us. The announcement was clearly heard in the wardroom too but our Captain who had just made two tricks only with eleven more to go was in no mood to rush up on the quarterdeck to receive the Fleet Commander.
|Bridge game in progress (pic courtesy: en.wikipedia.org)|
The Assistant OOD came running down to the wardroom that a brow (gangway plank) between the two ships had been secured and the Fleet Commander’s Flag Lieutenant (the Navy equivalent of ADC) had sent a message that the Fleet Commander would be leaving for shore shortly; and, since he’d be crossing our ship to do so, not only that our CO should see him off (as is the custom) but, (seeing that our CO had made no attempt to receive his ship) the Fleet Commander had expressed a desire to see our CO.
The CO successfully made the eleventh trick and now a smile had started forming on his lips as he sighted the first grand-slam in our wardroom (the one that would, no doubt, be talked about for months). He dismissed the Asst. OOD with, “Just tell him I am on my way.”
As the CO made the next two tricks, we heard the four pips (quartermaster’s pipe being blown sharply four quick times) on the ship’s broadcast indicating that CO was required urgently as the Fleet Commander was crossing our quarterdeck.
He had triumph on his face for a job really well done in securing the thirteenth trick as he rushed up and back to the quarterdeck. This was an experience not to be missed. So as the CO went down to quarterdeck from the starboard (right) side, I rushed from the Port side.
He reached the quarterdeck, took in a glance the about-to-burst Fleet Commander, saluted him and said: “Very sorry, Sir; we were still closed up on the Bridge.”
I don’t know whether that bridged the gap between them or not but the Fleet Commander responded coldly, “In any case, it was nothing very important” and left the ship.
I am sure our Captain would have liked to tell him how important a Grand-Slam was to us.
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