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1600 Games XII: Dicky Wins Some Tricks

During his lunch break Bar wandered out to the organic garden, where 'Chelle was busily turning the soil around a row of plants. “Whatcha growin' there, baby?” he said, bending down to get a better look.

“Look all you want, you won't see anything. These are turnips, root veggies and they grow underground. The greens are good too, you musta had them as a kid.”

Bar pulled on his right ear, a sure sign of discomfort. “I never tasted turnip greens. Mom was more into mukimi or satay.”

'Chelle was puzzled. “Say wha? Never had that on the South Side of Chi-town.”

Her man's reply was professorial. “My mother tried to suit her husbands' tastes. Mukimi is a Kenyan dish of maize and beans, with potatoes or bananas mashed in. Very tasty. Satay, that's small skewers, dipped in a spicy sauce and cooked over an open fire. In Indonesia it is made with all kinds of meat. I never liked goat, and certainly not that other stuff they fed me. Which reminds me. Dicky and Patty are coming over tonight, did you tell them to bring Checkers?”

“Yes honey,” said 'Chelle. "I told them Checkers and Bo can have a romp on the South Lawn while we play cards.”

Bar seemed perturbed. “Just as long as those mutts don't dig up the Rose Garden,” he said. “And we'd better be ready, Dicky's dossier says he doesn't miss a trick.”

“Magic?” 'Chelle seemed surprised. “ I thought he was into home improvements, first thing he did when I called to invite them was ask about the plumbing.”

“Did he ask about bugs?” said Bar.

“Baby, you're so smart. How did you know? Second thing he wanted to know was if we'd brought in an exterminator anytime recently.”

 

A couple of hands into the match, Dicky found himself, again, in a tight situation. 'Chelle, in the West seat, had tossed some non-organic muck on an orderly auction by opening with a 3 preempt. After two passes, Dicky faced a vexing problem:

South
AQ2
65
K2
AKQJ76
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
?

He looked around the almost-familiar room. If only Haldeman, Erlichman, or even Barker were around to offer advice, or better yet, technical assistance. Punting 3NT seemed like a good idea, but maybe he was too strong for that. What about double, and then 3NT when Patty bid an expected major? That seemed best.

Dicky was surprised when Patty, who was so reliable, didn't bid three of either major. Instead she tried something she'd picked up from a local expert in the master point game in the San Clemente retirement home: a 4 cue bid, indicating a good hand with both majors and asking Dicky to pick his poison.

Unfortunately, both majors were poison to Dicky, who tried to extricate himself with 4NT.  Patty dutifully interpreted this as Old Black and bid 5.  An exasperated Dicky, unable to extricate himself gracefully, went all-in. “Six no-trump,” he said in a firm voice, hoping against hope that Patty had the tickets to bring him home.

West
North
10863
AKQ9
43
952
East
South
AQ2
65
K2
AKQJ76
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0
4
3
K
A
3
1
0
1

The opening lead was the 4 to the king and ace. Dicky frowned. Things did not look particularly promising: There were only 11 tricks available in the form of 6 clubs, 3 hearts and 2 spades, now that 'Chelle had led that suit. In different times, he might have tried to find the A on his right, a chance which ranged from slim to none after 'Chelle's vulnerable pre-empt in that suit.

He fumbled with the “fountain pen” left over from his days at 1600. But the blasted thing, which was supposed to activate a camera hidden in the room's elaborate chandelier, didn't work. “Couldn't Liddy afford better batteries!?” thought Dicky, who was left to his own devices. 

There seemed nothing better than running his winners, starting with the clubs, in the hope of getting some kind of count. Bar followed to four rounds in that suit, then discarded a diamond and a heart while 'Chelle's six pitches were one spade, one heart and four diamonds. On the sixth club Dicky, who had already discarded one spade and one diamond, got rid of the J, assuming that there was no future in that suit.

Now a heart to the ace was followed by the K, with 'Chelle discarding another diamond. The defeated look on Dicky's face, which some people had mistaken for five o'clock shadow, vanished. He was in with a chance. 'Chelle had led a small spade, probably from four in that suit. If one of those was the J, the last high heart would squeeze away a vital exit card and she could be endplayed in this position.

West
J9
AQ
North
108
Q
4
East
x
10x
x
South
Q2
K2
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

With this in mind Dicky called for the Q, discarding a small diamond from his hand. 'Chelle tried her best by discarding the Q, but Dicky had been watching carefully. A diamond to the king and 'Chelle's now-singleton ace forced the lady to lead away from her J9, giving Dicky the contract.

“You played that very well, sir,” she said, using a respectful tone due to the older gent. “Even though the opening spade lead was helpful, the credit is all yours. You read my cards as though you had eyes behind me and could see exactly what cards I held.”

Dicky smiled. “That would suit my tricky reputation. But in this case, the only tricks involved were the 12 that I managed to take.”

The full hand: 

West
J974
J2
AQJ10987
North
10863
AKQ9
43
952
East
K5
108743
65
10843
South
AQ2
65
K2
AKQJ76
W
N
E
S
3
P
P
X
P
4
P
4NT
P
5
P
6NT
P
P
P
D
6NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

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