In my continued efforts to stop David Bird from stealing my titles, I remind him that spelling counts. One t doesnt cut it; anyone with half a brain knows there are two, and I could claim three in Hey Abb-b-o-t-tt. And dont 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.
While surfing the Internet I came across the transcript of a 1938 radio broadcast from San Francisco just a stones 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 Abbotts penchant for bridge:
[Bud] Lou! Let me give you a hand.
[Lou] No need to clap; were friends.
No, you nitwit, I mean a bridge hand.
Thanks! I get nervous on the Golden Gate.
You hold A-J-10 K-J-10 10-7-5-3 10-9-2.
Thats too heavy. I cant even hold my breath.
What do you lead against six notrump?
First a right cross, then an uppercut.
which Card do you lead?
Diners Club is all I have.
Never mind. It was cold.
I knew that!
Scribbled in Abbotts 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:
Having occurred some 80 years ago, and with all parties long passed, hopes of further recovery are slim. Aside from Abbotts allusion to 6 NT being cold and his curious note, which Ill interpret as no 5+ card suit in dummy, and no singleton or void anywhere, the actual deal may be lost for eternity. 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 Abbott loved high cards (and the dummy Costello couldnt 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.
This puzzle contest, designated March 2018 for reference, was open for over a year. Participants were limited to one try, unlike my usual contests allowing entries to be revised with only the last one counting. Participation was abundant, of which 37 solutions were correct. Tiebreakers were (1) most South HCP, (2) greatest South rank sum, and (3) earliest date-time of submission, in that order of priority.
Congratulations to Duncan Bell, who was first of six solvers to submit the optimal solution (South with 29 HCP and 153 rank sum). Duncans victory is no surprise, having previously won The Twelve of Spades, Just Another Zero and High Stakes Rubber, besides regular high placings when he didnt win.
The most common theme of successful solvers is represented by this construction:
Carl Heinz Rosenthal: On a minor-suit lead, win in hand and run the 9 through West, North covering with the queen; then run both minors to strip-squeeze West. If instead West rises with the A over Souths nine, simply preserve the J as an entry to win the Q.
Curious that Carl includes his middle name
a solution with 57 varieties?
Improving the rank sum to 151 were Tom Slater and seven others:
Unblocking diamonds, followed by a spade to the queen, leads to the same strip-squeeze against West.
Improving the HCP and rank sum a notch were Nigel Guthrie and two others:
In this case West can win the first spade to avoid the throw-in; but with clubs 3-3 declarer has 11 tricks, and West is eventually squeezed in the major suits. Note the Vienna coup at Trick 9.
Gordon Ho: The 9 must be in dummy to execute the squeeze.
The optimal solution, found by our winner Duncan Bell and five others, increased the rank sum to 153.
Dan Gheorghiu: Declarer succeeds with a repeating triple squeeze.
After cashing four clubs and the Q (Vienna coup) the following ending is reached:
At Trick 9 West is triple-squeezed. Suppose he lets go a heart as shown; the A then drops the king, and the Q squeezes him in the pointed suits. If West instead unguarded diamonds, declarer would overtake the J with the queen; then the 6 squeezes West in the majors. Similar if West unguarded spades.
The Abbot: What a pathetic attempt to capitalize on my fame! Do you really expect anyone to believe this, when you cant even spell Abbot correctly?
Brother Xavier: How dare you plagiarize my partner! Mr. Bird will see you in court!
Mark Raphaelson: Whos on first?
Apologies to David Bird, and acknowledgments toLou Costello (1906-59) and Bud Abbott (1897-1974)© 2021 Richard Pavlicek