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The Dirty Aces
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The rain turns the dust into mud as I walk into the Dirty Aces. I give my weapon to the doorman and pass him a tenner. "Your last night?", he asks. I nod. Cleaning the pockets of the same crowd for three nights straight is already pushing it. "Alright, I'll keep an eye out." When you expect there may be a fight, it's good to have the one guy you can't beat on your side.

I draw the fat guy I named Lazy. Learning the names of these suckers just for robbing them for a couple of nights doesn't strike me as a good investment. Despite the cigar stub hanging out of his mouth and belly hanging out of his shirt, I could have done worse. True, no subtleties are to be expected, but at least he won't care if I hog all the hands.

On my right sits Lady Tight. Apparently taking all her money on the previous night hasn't made her like me any better. Convinced not to let me make a fool of her again, she grinds her teeth and eyes me angrily over her glasses.

The loser on my left is the weakest player at the table. Besides his habit of giving away money when you least expect it, he also has a knack for making his partner play worse than usual. Clearly I've drawn well.

Tight deals, and I pick up AJ654 Q953 KQ3 K. She opens a club and my spade overcall runs back to her. She calls a notrump.

Passing out 1NT fresh at the table doesn't strike me as winning bridge. With a different partner I might have doubled, but with Lazy I keep it simple and bid 2, passed out.

The loser on my left leads a trump, and Lazy tables his hand:

Loser
Lazy
3
J862
J105
Q9874
Tight
Me
AJ542
Q953
KQ3
K
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
K
3
2
0
1
A
5
7
6
2
0
2
4
9
2
3

Tight wins the king and ace of hearts and plays a third round. Her 1NT bid marks her with both minor aces, so the spade honors have to be split. My best chance is to hope for a defensive slipand a favorable lie of the clubs.

Loser pitches a diamond on the third trump. I win in dummy and lead a club to my king, which wins the trick. Now my chances are good.

I duck a spade and the opponents have several options. If they return a spade or a diamond, I am in control and can set up the fifth spade, assuming that they split 4-3.

Loser
Q986
107
9842
1063
Lazy
3
J862
J105
Q9874
Tight
K107
AK4
A76
AJ52
Me
AJ542
Q953
KQ3
K
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
K
3
2
0
1
A
5
7
6
2
0
2
4
9
2
J
1
1
2
4
2
K
3
3
2
2
2
6
3
7
2
2
3
K
A
8
4
3
3
3
4
9
8
10
1
4
3
J
6
3
4
1
5
3
5
7
K
8
3
6
3
5
Q
10

(Follow the suggested line of play in the diagram by clicking on NEXT.)

Either by accident or in a rare moment of clarity Loser goes up with the 8 at trick 5, and plays a club through.I have to ruff the club jack withthe last trump in my hand,and now cannot afford to set upa spade trick, as I would end up losing 2 spades, 2 hearts, and both minor aces.

In the layout envisioned earlier I can remove Tight's spades and play diamonds, finishing the hand by smothering Loser's 10.

Loser
Q986
107
9842
1063
Lazy
3
J862
J105
Q9874
Tight
K107
AK4
A76
AJ52
Me
AJ542
Q953
KQ3
K
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
K
3
2
0
1
A
5
7
6
2
0
2
4
9
2
J
1
1
2
4
2
K
3
3
2
2
2
8
3
7
0
2
3
6
7
J
Q
3
3
3
A
6
8
10
3
4
3
4
9
8
K
1
5
3
5
7
K
4
3
6
3
Q
8
10
A
2
6
4
6
3
9
J
1
7
4
Q
12

On this line of play I would go down though if Tight started with 4 spades and 2 diamonds.To guard against this holding, I first play the king-queen of diamonds. If Tight winsone of these, I have enough entries to dummy to set up a club trick.

Loser
Q86
107
98742
1063
Lazy
3
J862
J105
Q9874
Tight
K1097
AK4
A6
AJ52
Me
AJ542
Q953
KQ3
K
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
K
3
2
0
1
A
5
7
6
2
0
2
4
9
2
J
1
1
2
4
2
K
3
3
2
2
2
8
3
7
0
2
3
6
7
J
Q
3
3
3
K
4
5
6
3
4
3
Q
8
10
A
2
4
4
K
A
6
4
3
5
4
3
7
J
9
1
6
4
Q
A
4
10
2
6
5
11

When Tight ducks both the king and queen of diamonds, I know to play her for a 3=3=3=4 distribution, as I simply cannot make the hand if she is 4=3=3=3.I could of course play along the same lines as before, but instead I eliminate her spades and throw in Tight with the third diamond.

Loser
Q986
107
9842
1063
Lazy
3
J862
J105
Q9874
Tight
K107
AK4
A76
AJ52
Me
AJ542
Q953
KQ3
K
W
N
E
S
1
1
P
P
1NT
2
P
P
P
D
2 South
NS: 0 EW: 0
10
2
K
3
2
0
1
A
5
7
6
2
0
2
4
9
2
J
1
1
2
4
2
K
3
3
2
2
2
8
3
7
0
2
3
6
7
J
Q
3
3
3
K
4
5
6
3
4
3
Q
8
10
7
3
5
3
A
6
8
10
3
6
3
4
9
8
K
1
7
3
J
11

With this line I also make the hand in case Tight started with AJ102. In that layout she should of course have won the ace of diamonds earlier, but I've learned through the years never to expect much from my opponents.

While Loser starts berating his partner for ducking the club at trick 4, and Tight is carefully looking at all the possible endings, I start dealing the next hand. I've drawn first blood, but the night is young and their wallets are far from empty.

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