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1600 Games XXXI: Running and the Value of Patience

Hilly wouldn't fess up to her bridge lessons. After lots of abortive attempts to cajole a confession out of the lady using every ruse she could imagine, 'Chelle was finally convinced about that. Determining what her guest's plans were was a different question, one she was determined to get answered. Was she planning to run in '16?

She started out obliquely. “Your old job required a lot of travel,” 'Chelle said. “Did you find time to get any exercise.”

“Not a lot,” said Hilly. “There was never time, with all the plane travel, all the time zones. When I had spare time, I would try to catch up on the sleep I lost.”

'Chelle gave a sympathetic look. “But the Elysee and the Kremlin have very nice gyms.”

Hilly: “Never got close to them.”

Chelle: “And you never went, say, for a run? The Bois de Bolougne, Gorky Park and Hyde Park all have great trails.”

Hilly: “Running is the farthest thing from my mind.”

'Chelle: “But when you lived here, you would sometimes go jogging with Willy in Rock Creek Park...”

Hilly: “Not very often.”

'Chelle: “And what about now. You have more time, and running is the best exercise.”

Hilly: “I prefer taking my time. I may take up running sometime later, but for now I prefer taking my time. I'll run when I'm ready, not beforehand.”

Back at the bridge table, Willy picked up a hand he'd be happy to see anytime at all:
AQT5 AKT9 J65 A2

Counting points was one of the lessons Willy had missed in the bridge course he had never taken, but he was still able to make a quick calculation: 17, 'nuff for a strong no-trump. “One no-trump,” he called in a firm voice. Hilly hesitated after hearing Bar pass, considering the prospects. Shaking her head as as if to confirm her calculations, she bid 6NT.

That was, of course, passed around to Willy, who decided that a recount was called for. “Let's see,” he thought, “the ace and queen of spades, the ace and king of hearts seven more. That makes 13, plus one for the jack of diamonds and four for the club ace. That makes....wow, 18!”

He considered the implications of his miscalculation. If Hilly was willing to bid 6NT opposite what might have been 15....there seemed to be a good chance for a grand.

He looked across the table, where Hilly was waiting for him to pass. “Honey chile,” he said, “I'm goin' for the gold. Seven no-trump.”

On the lead of the 9, with the jack falling, Willy could count 12 tricks – four spades, three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs. A favorable division of the clubs would produce the 13th – and for that matter, the 14th as well.

North
K64
Q
AK84
KQ865
South
AQ105
AK109
J65
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
6NT
P
7NT
P
P
P

Willy decided to settle matters quickly, playing off the three top clubs. When West discarded a spade (he had plenty of those) on the third club, Willy was left with little recourse. He pitched a heart on the Q, ran his top hearts and spades and played off the ace and king of diamonds, in the vain hope that someone, anyone, had started with the Q doubleton. When that failed he conceded down one.

West
98732
74
Q1092
J7
North
K64
Q
AK84
KQ865
East
J
J86532
73
10943
South
AQ105
AK109
J65
A2
W
N
E
S
1NT
P
6NT
P
7NT
P
P
P
D
7NT South
NS: 0 EW: 0

Hilly cleared her throat and used her mildest tone, one she used to avoid any accusation that she was no longer standing by her man. “The club division was crucial, but there was no reason to be impatient. Just cash the winners in the other suits, including the A and K. Here's the position, on the play of the last spade.”

West
8
4
Q
J7
North
8
KQ86
East
J
10943
South
A
10
J
A2
D

“On the last spade, you discard a diamond from dummy and East is squeezed. He cannot keep both the master heart and four clubs. And if West has four clubs, in addition to his original six spades, he will be squeezed when you cash the top two hearts. In that theoretical card ending, he cannot protect both the diamond and the clubs,” she said. “It can't lose, so long as the master red cards – the jacks of hearts and diamonds – are in different hands.”

Hilly turned to 'Chelle. “It proves the point I tried make a few minutes ago,” she said. “Bide your time before making an important decision, in bridge and in other aspects of life.”

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