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1600 Games XX: Gerry Runs into a Truck

After many years together, Betty was well aware of her husband’s strengths, and his limitations.

“The conventional wisdom is that he can’t do two things together, like chew gum and walk down a flight of stairs,” she told Roz in a confidential tone. “That’s not true, you know. He’s okay on the stairs, as long as he puts one hand on the railing.

“And when he puts his mind to it, he’s very good at lots of other things,” she continued, sipping on the pink lemonade ‘Chelle had ordered specially for her. “He was a great leader on the football field in Ann Arbor, and showed those talents to the best advantage when he got the job over there on the other side of town, on the Hill.”

Mention of That Place brought a frown to ‘Chelle’s usually placid visage. “The Hill! I don’t like that place at aaaalllll. It’s where my husband, Bar, gets in all kinds of trouble trying to make a deal with those guys. Reckon their symbol is the elephant, cuz their hides are as thick as a pachyderm’s.”

The older woman tried to reassure her. “They’re not so bad,” said Betty. “Many of them are just nostalgia buffs.”
‘Chelle shook her head so hard that her carefully coiffed hair flew in all directions. “Nostalgia! Don’t they know it’s a thing of the past? In this new world, being connected is what counts. Those guys aren’t into Twitter and Facebook and reality. Bet they spend evenings watching reruns of ‘Gunsmoke.’”

“Not all of them,” said Betty. “Gerry and me, we never miss Cronkite. And lately ‘Mad Men,’ though I don’t recall that at all from back in the Seventies. That Don Draper is a real cutie. Maybe we were too busy on the Hill, or arranging things when we suddenly moved into this house, after the unexpected departure of the previous tenant.”

Gerry’s concentration was put to the test on this layout. As South, he opened a non-vulnerable weak 2. After Jim overcalled in diamonds Betty propelled her husband into 4.

“Stop scratching your head and focus on the cards, dear,” said Betty, sipping on her icy beverage. “And don’t worry about the drive home, remember they sent a chauffer. And, er, good luck partner, as they say.”

4 South
NS: 0 EW: 0

The opening lead was the A. Was there another club to cash, wondered Jim. Then he noticed that his partner had played the deuce on this lead, indicating that she held an odd number of cards in the suit. Wondering if Roz was indicating three or five clubs, Jim decided to delay his decision in that suit. Instead he tried to establish something in diamonds, the suit in which he had overcalled, by leading the K.

Gerry was pleased. With the likely success of the heart finesse he had only three losers – two in diamonds after taking the ace, and the already-gone A. He called for dummy’s ace and was unpleasantly surprised to see Roz ruff that trick.

Gerry ruffed the club return but his fate was sealed. The two unavoidable diamond losers in his hand left him a trick short.

Betty was furious. “You blew that one, darling. The hand’s cold on a club lead. Don’t fly the ace on the K shift, just duck,” she said. “West is now hopeless. If he leads the diamond king you just cover. Roz ruffs, but your jack is established. A small diamond, on the other hand, runs to your jack. Roz can ruff if she pleases, but it’s playing a trump on air, so to speak.”

Gerry could only begin to stutter a reply as his wife went on with her rant. “What were you doing, thinking about the Wolverines’ game with the Spartans next week. How many times have I told you to concentrate on the problem at hand. If you don’t, you’re likely to be hit by a truck, as you were on this hand.”

Unable to do anything but nod in agreement, Gerry concurred. “Hit by a truck. I hope that it was a domestic vehicle, not one of those cheap imports that have been giving our friends in Detroit fits in recent years. Perhaps it was a Ford.”

As usual, Roz tried to play peacemaker. "You got the benefit of imperfect defense," she said. "If the opening lead is the K, the hand always goes down. East ruffs the ace, returns to partners hand with a club, and the defense gets two more tricks, the high diamond and another ruff."

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