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The 1600 Games VI: Bar Knows a Trick or Two

Hillie and 'Chelle were powdering their noses when the subject of conventions came up.

Hillie: “As you know, I've been traveling these last few years. And I've been trying to get Willie to add some of the new systems I've picked up on the road to our convention card.”

'Chelle: “I've heard you talking to Bar about the Geneva Convention.”

Hillie: “Not that one 'Chelle. I mean bidding conventions. I learned the Multi 2 from Dave, that new guy on Downing St. in London, canapé from the even newer garcon at the Elysee...”

'Chelle: “Little sandwiches at the bridge table? Those Parisians are so sophisticated.”

Hillie: “Not sandwiches, just a way of bidding shorter suits first. That's one of many possibilities, which include the Roman or Neapolitan or Polish clubs, something the Brits use that was named after a street in London, and systems where strong hands pass and weak hands open, can you imagine?

“Chelle: “Me and my baby had best stick to the local product. There's enough trash talk goin' on about Kenya or Indonesia. For us, it's Standard American all the way. Maybe we'll give it a name, though, like the State Street system or after Daley...”

Hillie: “Daley? Abe Lincoln was also from Illinois.”

“Chelle: Yeah, and he freed my folks. But honey, remember that he was a Repub...”

Before the R-word could pass his woman's lips. Bar poked his head through the door. “Bet old Honest Abe would be on our side if he were around today. He was much more of a socialist than I am. Now let's get back to the game.”

 

A few hands after play restarted, Bar got a chance to show that Willie wasn't the only one who had mastered end-game technique. He and 'Chelle reached the 4 game after an adventurous auction that, with the light opener from Willie in the West seat, seemed to be from the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

West
J6
KJ762
K6
K1042
North
AK7
Q83
Q10942
75
East
Q82
10
AJ8753
983
South
109543
A954
AQJ6
W
N
E
S
1
P
1NT
2
P
4
?
D
 

Willie, at a loss on what to lead, tried a club, greeted by Bar with undisguised pleasure. So much so that after the customary “thank you partner,” he was tempted to add a word of thanks to his normally slick opponent for the helpful start to proceedings.

Winning the Q, Bar continued with a trump to the ace, reentered his hand with the club ace and crossed to dummy with a second high trump. Now came a diamond ruff, a club ruffed with dummy's last spade and another diamond ruff. Noting the fall of Willie's king, he now had an accurate count: Willie had started with two spades, two diamonds and four clubs. In the clear knowledge that Willie had been dealt five hearts, Bar now exited with a club to Willie's known non-heart card, the K.

When Willie exited with a low heart, Bar considered the possibilities. If his opponent had begun with KJ10, it seemed best to play low from dummy; this, however, would lose if Hillie's known singleton was the J or, as was slightly more likely, the 10.

If he had KJ10, Bar thought, Willie might have led one of the honors. On that assumption he played dummy's Q, nodding in satisfaction when Hillie's singleton turned out to be the 10.

Now he was able to run the 8 to the jack, endplaying poor Willie yet again as Hillie helplessly withheld her high trump. (If she were to ruff in she'd be endplayed, forced to give up the game-going trick to dummy's Q after cashing the A, as the defense scored three tricks – a club, a diamond, and a spade, but no heart.)

Willie, still anxious to show off some of his new-found technical skill, congratulated Bar on his slick play. “The club lead was helpful, of course, but then there's another cute line to make the contract,” he said. “After winning the first club you can cross to a trump, ruff a diamond, and then get back to dummy with the other master trump. Now a club to the ace and a club ruff. Since you know my shape at this point you can play the Q from dummy, ruff when that is covered, and exit with the last club. I'm endplayed, just as I was before.  Hillie can ruff when she wishes but if she does must give up a diamond to dummy in the end. In that variant you make six spade tricks including the ruffs in both hands, two clubs and two tricks in the red suits...”

The expression on 'Chelle's face barely concealed how impressed she was with Willie's analysis. Reaching for the scorepad, she scribbled a note to her husband: “I know he says that he didn't take bridge lessons from Kitty Munson Cooper, but we could certainly do with some ourselves. Ask him for her phone number.”

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