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1600 Games XXX: Bridge and Nuclear Physics

There was no stopping 'Chelle once she set her mind to something. And right now, the first woman of 1600 (Bar sometimes reminded her that she was also the 44th) was bound and determined to find the truth behind Hilly's mysterious trips to Ithaca. Was she really lecturing at Cornell, as she persisted in saying. Was there some other purpose, hidden away behind her deadpan expression? And where, oh where, did she suddenly acquire all that bridge expertise?

“I'm gonna find out, by hook or some other means,” she had told her husband. And now, with the rematch between the present and once-removed residents of 1600 already under way, she was trying some of the cross-examination tricks she'd learned at Harvard Law on her still-unsuspecting guest.

“You know, Hilly,” she said, “Bar is dead set on implementing the health care reform. He say's it's one of the major national projects of the last century, comparable to building the Hoover Dam or,” she said, pausing to emphasize her point, “or the Manhattan project.”

“Manhattan Projects?” Hilly looked puzzled. “I was a Senator from New York, so I know all about them. Tough places to live...”

'Chelle shook her head. “I don't mean those projects. I'm talking about the 40s, when a bunch of scientists, including refugees from Germany, were out in the Nevada desert.”

“Now I understand,” said Hilly. “But what relevance does that have now?”

“Well, I thought with all those trips you have been taking up the Hudson River, to lecture at Ithaca on diplomacy or something,” 'Chelle said, glancing at Bar to make sure he realized where she was heading, “you might have heard about it. Seems to me that there's someone up there with intimate knowledge of one of the people involved.”

“Really?” Hilly was doing her best to look puzzled.

'Chelle: “For sure. Henry Bethe lives in Ithaca. A man with the same last name, Hans Bethe, was a nuclear physicist who immigrated from Germany before WWII and worked at Los Alamos.”

Hilly (deadpan): “Henry Bethe? I can't place the name.”

'Chelle (earnest): “You should. He plays bridge very well. You can learn a lot from him, if you happen to have some spare time between lectures.”

Hilly (innocently): “As I've said before, I haven't taken bridge lessons from that Mr. Betty or whatever his name is, or anyone else.”

A few minutes later, Hilly faced a challenge. Holding

74 KQ AT9654 AT9

She opened the bidding 1, heard her partner's 2nt response and was considering what to bid when Bar, in the West seat, intervened with 3. Hoping her partner's 10-12 points included a spade stopper, she went on to game. “I hope the diamonds provide you with the tricks you need in 3 no-trump,” she said as she put down dummy. 

Bar
QJ952
A109
KQ632
Hilly
74
KQ
A109654
A109
'Chelle
K1083
87643
J83
5
Willy
A6
J52
KQ72
J874
W
N
E
S
1
P
2NT
3
3NT
P
P
P
D
3NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 Willy saw that the diamonds would surely run, but even with them he had only eight top tricks. There was nothing better to do than win the A at Trick 2 and begin cashing diamonds. And he was overjoyed to see West under extreme pressure on the play of the sixth and last diamond. Here was the position at Trick Eight:

Bar
J92
A
KQ
Hilly
KQ
4
A109
'Chelle
K10
876
5
Willy
J52
J87
D

 

When the last winning diamond was led from dummy Bar was squeezed. He certainly couldn't discard the A, but the other options, getting rid of one of the top clubs or pitching the third remaining spade and limiting himself to two more spade tricks, was no less appealing. Finally he pitched a spade, won the A and conceded the last two tricks to dummy's Q and A.

“Well done partner,” said Hilly.

“Thank you, but I don't deserve much credit. All I did was play off my long-suit winners.,” replied Willy, with an aw shucks smile on his face. “You don't have to be a nuclear physicist to do that.”

Hilly chuckled. “Or take bridge lessons,” she said softly.

 

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