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1600 Games XXI: Where are the stables?

Anny took her husband's hand as they stepped onto the helipad at 1600, and held her hair in place as the copter, a gift from the Caymans bank to all new depositors of $200 million or more, took off.

 

“I wonder where the stables are,” she said, turning to the man at her side.

Mitty seemed puzzled. “Stables?” he said. “Why in the world should there be stables?”

 

Anny shook her blonde tresses. “This house was built 220 years ago. There had to be horses. What did you expect them to have, garages?”

She looked around. “Bet they were over there, beyond that lawn. Which, come to think of it, would have made a nice place for Rafalca to graze when she's on home leave and not training for the Olympics.” Her voice trailed off: “If only Karl and Charlie Krauthammer were right about getting the lease to this place...”

 

Mitty looked at his watch. “No time for that now, my dear. Our hosts, who are still 1600's tenants, are waiting inside.”

 

Inside, 'Chelle was impatient. “Where are those people?” she said. “I heard their helicopter take off, and they should be here by now.”

 

Bar tried to soothe his high-strung missus. “Maybe his wife is looking at the grounds,” he said. “Or ever your organic garden.”

 

“Wife! I hope he only brought one of them. You know, he's one of those people. Out in Utah...”

 

Bar raised his hand to stop her. “Mitt only has one wife. His church formally renounced polygamy in the 19th century.”

 

“Good thing,” said 'Chelle. “They're here for bridge, which as I recall is a four-handed game.”

 

 

North
A5
987
AQ654
832
Mitty
KJ84
AKJ6
872
A5
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
 

 

The two men, who a couple of months before had gone eyeball-to-eyeball on national TV, seemed in an amiable mood as the game began. At least on the surface, their bitter rivalry was a thing of the past. It was Mitty, the guest, who got the first chance to strike. Holding the South cards, he opened a 15-17 no-trump; Anny, after dialing up Puppet Stayman to check for a five-card major and finding none, raise to game.

'Chelle's opening lead was the 7, old-fashioned fourth best, and Mitty surveyed his prospects. Somehow they reminded him of Ohio – not very good, but there seemed to be some chances for success. He ducked Bar's king but was compelled to win the A when his former and present adversary returned the J at Trick Two, nodding wisely as his media team had taught him to do when “Chelle followed with the 6.

Correctly surmising that his LHO opponent had started with a five-bagger, Mitty came to the conclusion that he needed nine tricks without losing the lead. And that he was going down in a hurry if the heart finesse didn't work. A successful hook and a 3-3 break would bring his trick total up to eight, leaving the fate of the contract hanging on the success of a finesse in one of the pointed suits.

With that in mind, he reached dummy with the A, was pleased to see the J hold next, and overjoyed when both enem..er... opponents followed to the third round. On the fourth heart everyone pitched diamonds – West the T, dummy the 4 and East the 3.

It was now up to his choice of a finesse. Should he try spades (entering dummy with the A) or diamonds? If only young Paul was here, to give him some advice. Then again, there were those who said that choosing that whippersnapper as his mate had put the focus in the wrong place, in the end costing him a four-year lease on this lovely old house.

No, he'd make the choice on his own. Was there any information he'd missed?

He slapped his thigh. Of course there was. 'Chelle's discard was the T. Would she do that from KJT? No way Jose” (Mitty made a mental note to pay more attention to the Latinos next time 'round. If there was a next time.) Of course not. So it was the spade finesse...

Leading a diamond to 'Chelle's jack and dummy's ace, Mitty suddenly had a better idea. 'Chelle had led the 7, fourth best and next played the six, so she'd started with five clubs, three hearts, two diamonds and..two spades. The hand was going to make, even if the lady on his left held the missing spade lady. “Eight of clubs,” he said. “Anny, please play the 8 next.”

He spread his hand. Madam, you have three club tricks to cash. But then you must lead a spade into my K-J, giving me the ninth trick. You or your husband may have the Q, but that card's location is immaterial. Game made.”

Anny was jubilant. 'That was great,” she said. “And you did it all on your own. If only you'd have followed your own instincts instead of listening to Karl or that high-roller from Vegas, Rafalca might be out there right now munching on that delicious green grass.”

The full hand:

 

'Chelle
Q32
1052
J10
Q10976
Anny
A5
987
AQ654
832
Bar
10976
Q43
K93
KJ4
Mitty
KJ84
AKJ6
872
A5
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
3
P
3
P
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

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