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1600 Games XXXII: The Name of the Game is Preparation

In between hands, there was always time for a little idle conversation. For Willy, who in some ways still missed the times when he lived in the big house on Pennsylvania, that meant talking shop.

“I hear you're still trying to get something done in the Middle East,” he said. “I tried that for years, offered all kinds of plans and suggestions and even a tad of pressure together with a few financial inducements. But nothing ever worked. Those are some pretty stubborn dudes over theah, sure thing.”

Bar could do nothing but shrug his shoulders. “Problem is you never know what to expect. You may think you're getting somewhere but they'll come and surprise you. You never know what to expect."

“Take that new cat over there in Eye-ran,” he continued. “One minute he makes noise like a moderate, next thing you know he's a militant.”
Willy nodded in agreement. “And that means you've always gotta be prepared. Yeah, I said it once and I can say it again...”

“And again and again and again,” muttered Hilly, half under her breath.
“And again.” Willy continued as though he hadn't heard his wife's comment. “Preparation, that's the name of the game.”

A few minutes later, Willy found himself in a tough 4 contract. After opening the bidding with 1, Bar in the West seat had doubled, followed by Hilly's 1, 'Chelle's 2 and his own 2. After Bar upped the ante with 4, Hilly's 4 closed proceedings.

Hilly
Q9654
A984
Q106
7
Willy
J10
K10
AK8752
J106
W
N
E
S
1
X
1
2
2
4
4
P
P
P

Bar led the 3, won by 'Chelle's A, who promptly switches to a spade. Bar won the ♠K and cashed the ♠A and then played a club, ruffed in dummy.

Willy had no more tricks to lose, and realized that the hand was a cinch unless someone had all four outstanding trumps. Rather than test that suit now, which might be fatal, he tried a different line -- Q, on which East discarded a heart and he ruffed with a small diamond. Next came the heart king and ace, in that order, and another heart from dummy on which 'Chelle again tossed a club and he ruffed, small of course. That was followed by the J, ruffed with dummy's small diamond.

At this point, the tall Arkansan faced his hand. “It's clear that you have all four diamonds, pretty lady,” he said, turning to 'Chelle. “I'm going to lead a spade from dummy, and you can play any card you want. If you ruff low, I''ll play a diamond that's higher than yours and the last three tricks will be mine with the top three trumps. If you ruff high, I will overruff and enter dummy with the Q. That will give me a tenace over any card you play.”

For once Hilly seemed impressed. “Very well done, sweetheart,” she said. “But how did you figure it out? At first I thought that maybe the surveillance cameras in this room were still working, but then I remembered that you had them removed when all the interns came to work here.

“It was deduction, not snooping,” said Willy. “When Bar led a low club, I figured that he didn't have any kind of honor sequence. And if 'Chelle had, say, the ace and queen of clubs, then he didn't have a lot of high-card points for his take-out double. So he probably had an exotic distribution, which to me indicated a diamond void. Add to that 'Chelle's minimum of four clubs, and there was little harm shortening my own trump holding, to get ready for the eventual trump coup. As I said before, preparedness. That's the name of the game. And not only for the Scouts.”

And the ending:

Bar
4
3
85
Hilly
96
8
Q10
'Chelle
J943
Q
Willy
AK87
J
W
N
E
S
1
X
1
2
2
4
4
P
P
P
D
4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

 

Department of True Confessions: This hand may look familiar to “our” Kit Woolsey, as well it should. He and his then-pard, Ed Manfield, were the victims of this neat piece of analysis and preparation perpetrated by Lesniewski of Poland in the 1984 World Championships.

 

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