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1600 Games XXIX: The Rematch

 

The match against Anny and Mitty had gone well for Bar and 'Chelle, who defeated their visitors 332-206 when scored using an ACBL novice game on BBO. The win had only whetted 'Chelle's appetite for more competition.

“The tougher the better,” she told her husband the morning after. “Though I feel kinda sorry; they're a nice couple, but we simply had them outgunned.”

The statement by his wife (no one would call her his “little woman,” as one of their recent opponents reportedly had referred to his spouse) made Bar wince. “Outgunned! Don't ever ever ever use that term baby. It makes me think of those wimps on our side of the aisle who voted against what 90 percent of the country wanted, siding with the NRA instead. Were they thinking that the initials stood for FDR's National Recovery Administration, and if so where was the famous symbol of the blue eagle.”

Nuff of that history, baby. I'm talking about bridge,” said 'Chelle. “Have you any idea who we might invite.”

Bar rubbed his chin. “What about Hilly and Willy?” he said. “Pannetta tells me they've been polishing up their game since Hilly left her full-time job.”

A quizzical look crossed the face of 'Chelle, who was usually so sure of herself. “Are you sure they'll be around? Maybe they're off traveling somewhere, using Hilly's four years worth of frequent flier miles.”

“No problem there. Why would she want to go back to Dushanbe or Ulan Bator? There's not even a Holiday Inn in those places,” said Bar.

'Chelle wasn't convinced. “Somebody once told me that Ulan Bator was cool,” she said.

“Cool is not the word, baby. The average temperature there is zero degrees Celsius. That's 32 on the Fahrenheit scale.”

After checking their respective schedules, the former First Couple suggested Wednesday for the bridge evening. Bar, however, vetoed their suggestion.

“I can't make that evening,” Bar told 'Chelle.

“What is it baby? A meeting with the NSC or the CIA? Maybe its the ATF, the FBI, NASA, FEMA, HUD, TSA, ACBL or one of those other hunks of alphabet soup?”

“More important than that, baby,” replied her husband.

'Chelle: “There's a crisis in the EU? Again?”

Bar: “Even worse. It involves LBJ.”

'Chelle: “LBJ? He hasn't been around for years.”

Bar: “Not that LBJ, silly. I mean Lebron James. The Bulls and the Heat are meeting in the playoffs that night.”

Hilly and Willy presented themselves two weeks later, the next available date on their busy separate schedules. As usual, 'Chelle was there to greet them when they arrived at the South Portico.

“You're looking very good,” she said, turning to Willy. Looks like you've been outdoors. Have you been whitewater rafting? I understand you're a big fan.”

Willy shook his head vigorously. He seemed displeased. “I wouldn't say that. Let me make it clear again. I have had nothing to do with whitewater. Ever.”

Hilly nodded agreement, adding one last sentence. “Just as he never took bridge lessons from Kitty Munson Cooper.”

A few deals into the evening, it became obvious that Hilly had taken advantage of the time that was now on her hands to polish her own bridge technique.

Sitting South, she picked up !sAK AQ954 KT4 AQ5, a classic 2 game force if ever she had seen one. Bar, sitting West, bid 2, and Willy doubled to show his strength. After Hilly's 3 call, it was simple enough to check for aces and bid the small slam in hearts.

A spade was led and Hilly surveyed her prospects, which didn't seem very good. There was a sure diamond to lose and a probable club. Chances of finding the doubleton !cK with East were less than slim and none. But even if the club finesse lost, a 3-3 break in that suit would provide a parking place for the losing diamond in her hand.

Hilly started out by winning the top spade and drawing trumps in three rounds, ending up in dummy. She next called for a low club from dummy and was about to finesse when the had another idea. Putting up the ace on the first club trick, she then led a low club towards dummy's jack. Bar won the !cK, perforce, but that was that.

“The third diamond in my hand will go on the !cJ,” she said. “Making six.”

'Chelle cast an admiring glance at her guest. “Well played!,” she said. “Just what I'd expect from someone who was born in Chicago, like me. Have you been taking lessons?”

The question was greeted by a steely silence from Hilly. Just as the moment was getting awkward, Willy stepped in to calm things down. “She won't say. But I keep on wondering why she's been making trips up to Ithaca. She says she's lecturing at Cornell, but as I recall that's where Henry Bethe lives...”

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