The Thief and the Fire

Original tale by Paolo Enrico Garrisi  (translated by Carol Sims )

One night a thief broke into a house, forced open the safe and stole money, jewels and share certificates. Unexpectedly he heard a noise at the door: the owner had returned home, the thief had to escape.

 He ran to the library, took the six best books ever written about bridge, put them in his bag, jumped out of the window (he was only on the first floor), landed on the grass and fled.


When the owner of the house saw the open safe, he wasn’t really upset: money comes and goes and he was a good earner, he would make it up in a short time.


He called the police, filled the coffeemaker and put it on the stove, and then went into the library to get something to read while waiting for their arrival. It was then he realized that he had lost the six greatest books about bridge ever written. Devastated, he dropped to his knees and wept While he despaired the flame was burning under the coffeemaker: the coffee was ready, but no one turned off the gas. The plastic parts of the coffeemaker melted and ignited, the coffeemaker exploded, embers flew all over and the kitchen caught fire. He didn’t realize a thing because he was still wailing.


The fire reached the library and finally the man shook himself out of his prostration: his life was more important than six books, he had to escape. From the library he took the six best books about bridge which were left, jumped out of the window (he was only on the first floor), landed on the grass and fled from the burning house.


These are the six books which the thief took, the greatest ever written:

  • “Why You Lose At Bridge”, Skidelsky John Simon, 1948

  • “Contract Bridge Blue Book”, Ely Culbertson 1934

  • “The new Neapolitan Club”, Eugenio Chiaradia 1967 (not translated in English)

  • “Bridge total” (The complete bridge), Bertrand Romanet 1966, not translated in English. Reference December 2009)
  • “I Love this Game”, Sabine Auken née Zenkel, 2006

  • “The Official Encyclopedia of Contract Bridge”, various authors 2001, edited by Alan Truscott and Henry and Dorothy Francis (reference November 2009)


These are the six books saved from the fire, the greatest books after the first six:

  • “ Winning Bridge”, Helen Sobel, 1950

  • “Bridge Immortals”, Victor Mollo 1969

  • “Les cahiers du bridge” (Bridge notebooks), Roger Trezel 1969. Terence Reese has translated some Trezel’s works. Main titles are:

– Blocking and unblocking;

– Elimination play;

– Safety play.

  • “Play Bridge with Reese”, Terence Reese 1965

  • “The Blue Team in the History of Bridge”, Carl’Alberto Perroux, 1973 (not translated).
  • “Championship bridge”, José Le Dentù 1964

(original tale by Paolo Enrico Garrisi, translated by Carol Sims )

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2 Replies to “The Thief and the Fire”

  1. If I were a fireman, I would try to salvage some of the books that were left after the burglar and the owner had taken theirs: Adventures in Card Play by Geza Ottlik, at least one more of the Reese books, probably Master Play; All 52 Cards by Marshall Miles; and Forguet’s Bridge with the Blue Team (maybe Perroux’s book is better, but since I don’t read Italian…

  2. Dear Hanan, maybe you’re right about Terence Reese; however, I think that a Reese’s book which is more worth to read is “Story of an Accusation”. Marshall Miles was not there. “Adventures in card play”, by Geza Ottlik (and Hugh Kelsey), there was, but the owner didn’t yet read it, so he couldn’t recognize its value. The Forquet’s book is very fine, but Perroux told stories of players more than on playing.

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