Main   Puzzle 8N79 by Richard Pavlicek  

Bridge with the Abbott

In my continued efforts to stop David Bird from stealing my titles, I remind him that spelling counts. One ‘t’ doesn’t cut it; anyone with half a brain knows there are two, and I could claim three in “Hey Abb-b-o-t-tt.” And don’t think for a minute that adding ‘Monsignors’ to your stories changes anything! My attorneys have issued a cease-and-desist order, so be warned. Keep your beak off my puzzles! If these thefts continue, you may be the next Birdman of Alcatraz.

Click for a list of successful solvers

While surfing the Internet I came across the transcript of a 1938 radio broadcast from San Francisco — just a stone’s throw from Alcatraz, so pay attention, Mr. Bird. It was a half-hour comedy show featuring Abbott and Costello. About midway through my interest was piqued by the following dialog, highlighting Bud Abbott’s penchant for bridge:

[Bud] Lou! Let me give you a hand.

[Lou] We’re friends; no need to clap.

No, you nitwit, I mean a bridge hand.

Thanks! I get nervous on the Golden Gate.

You hold S A-J-10 H K-J-10 D 10-7-5-3 C 10-9-2.

That’s too heavy. I can’t even hold my breath.

What do you lead against six notrump?

First a right cross, then an uppercut.

No, no… which Card do you lead?

Diners Club is all I have.

Never mind. It was cold.

I knew that!

Scribbled in Abbott’s handwriting in the margin was a Yarborough, presumably partner of the above. Beneath it was the note “no long suit in dummy, no accidents,” but that was it. No other bridge information existed, though one could surmise that whatever the missing hands were, Lou would be the perfect dummy. A partial construction shows:

6 NT South  ?
 ?
 ?
 ?
S A J 10
H K J 10
D 10 7 5 3
C 10 9 2
Table S 8 6 4 3
H 9 8 7 3
D 9 8
C 8 6 4
West leads  ?
 ?
 ?
 ?

Having occurred some 80 years ago, and with all parties long passed, hopes of further recovery are slim. Aside from Abbott’s allusion to 6 NT being cold and his curious note, which I’ll interpret as “no 5+ card suit in dummy, and no singleton or void anywhere,” the actual deal may be lost for eternity. Unless… unless… you can help restore this piece of history.

Construct a South hand with which 6 NT can be made against any defense.

Many solutions exist. Because Abbot loved high cards (and the dummy Costello couldn’t tell an ace from a deuce) tiebreaking goal is to make the South hand as strong as possible, first by HCP, and secondarily by the sum of all card ranks.


6 NT South North will
get what
remains

 
S A J 10
H K J 10
D 10 7 5 3
C 10 9 2
Table S 8 6 4 3
H 9 8 7 3
D 9 8
C 8 6 4
Available cards:
West leads S   
H   
D   
C   
S K Q 9 7 5 2
H A Q 6 5 4 2
D A K Q J 6 4 2
C A K Q J 7 5 3



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Apologies to David Bird, and acknowledgments to
Lou Costello (1906-59) and Bud Abbott (1897-1974)
© 2018 Richard Pavlicek