Bob Mackinnon

Deception in Plain View

Greetings from stodgy old Blighty! What exciting lives you and Betsy must be leading, if I read correctly between the lines. Thanks for the thought re the yellow necktie, but I can’t imagine an appropriate occasion for wearing it, unless The Queen were to declare a National Holiday, call it Baboon Day, where people could do anything they liked as long as they did no harm to others. Bankers could rub soot on their faces, put on head lamps, and fulfill a boyhood dream of working in a coal mine without wage. Shopkeepers could close up shop and go shopping themselves to their heart’s content, although I’m not sure how that would work out. As for me, picture the headlines in the News of the World: Naked Man on Blackfriars Bridge Wearing a Yellow Necktie. On page 3 there would be a photo of me (backside view only – not my best side, I hope you agree) with an insert of the yellow tie you gave me, and besides that a close-up shot of Dianna Dors feigning a shocked look. As usual the NOTW gets the details wrong, for I would be wearing also a bowler hat and would be carrying a brolly in case of rain, as we always must do.

I have asked Sensei for his advice to Betsy in her time of confusion. In short, he advises she should press the snooze button on her biological alarm clock. Here is how to go about doing that. Find a hot spring hotel that allows you to bath naked, that last part is most important. (It seems obvious that bathing with your clothes on is a bad idea, but there are spiritual implications as well.) Book for three nights during a full moon. Around midnight soak in the waters up to your neck and watch the moonlight play on the rippling waves. Reject all interruptions of the sort, ‘Hi there. I’m from Toledo and I couldn’t help noticing you tattoo.’ No, concentrate on the shimmering light patterns for several minutes, then close your eyes and try to recall the scene for several minutes more. Repeat the operation for an hour over three days. After you return to New York take the time to get off by yourself, close your eyes, and imagine the moonlight. You can do this at any time during the day when the stress level is high, but not, of course, when you are driving in heavy traffic.

Sensei continues to teach me bridge tactics, especially on topics you won’t find in the bridge books, like deception. I don’t know how he gets away with it. Here is a hand to think about.

 
None
East
N
Jeffrey
K863
KJ63
AK105
K
 
W
James
109
A2
9862
J9875
 
E
Hisashi
QJ2
Q1074
QJ73
Q6
 
S
Ronald
A754
985
4
Q10432
 
W
Me
N
Jeffrey
E
Hisashi
S
Ronald
1
Pass
1
Pass
3
Pass
4
All Pass
 
 
 

I don’t often lead an unsupported ace, but, as they say, it looked like a good idea at the time. I was not happy with what I saw in the dummy, but I continued with my 2 for lack of anything better as the damage had already been done. Declarer took the K and decided that he would try to make as many small trumps as possible, it being a pairs game. He cashed the K, played the top diamonds, and ruffed to hand (Hisashi playing the Q an obvious false card.) The 6 went away on the A, and a club was ruffed in dummy with the 3, overruffed by Hisashi with the Q. He could have given me a heart ruff at this point, instead he led his last diamond. Here was the position.

 
None
East
N
Jeffrey
K86
J6
 
W
James
109
10
J9
 
E
Hisashi
J2
Q10
J
 
S
Ronald
A75
9
10
 

Declarer ruffed with the 7 and cashed to A, Hisashi following with the 2 which seemed to satisfy declarer’s assumption that he had started with Q2. Ronald led his last club ruffed with the 6. What a shock it must have been when Sensei over-ruffed and led the Q promoting my T for the setting trick, and a top score.

It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Mankind is not prepared to face the unexpected.

Terrence Reese was right when he said that stolen fruits are the sweetest, or was it stolen kisses? No, I’m sure it was fruit. Anyway, we British prefer not to act underhandedly, unless as a last resort when it’s necessary in order to achieve our ends. Here is my deceptive play made in plain view of everyone, but effective nonetheless.

 
E-W
East
N
Reginald
A762
J108
J10
K1082
 
W
James
4
AK9732
Q743
J5
 
E
Hisashi
KJ1095
64
K8
A964
 
S
Margaret
Q83
Q8
A9652
Q73
 
W
Me
N
Reginald
E
Hisashi
S
Ronald
Pass
Pass
1
Pass
2
Pass
3
Pass
3
Pass
Pass
Pass

It appears the bidding got somewhat out-of-hand on this one, as it often does playing with Hisashi. He could hardly have been thinking of a possible 3NT, and as for the possibility of South balancing over 2, forget it, as the Reverend Forsythe is not the forgiving type when things go wrong.

The J was led to A and a diamond returned to the K in the dummy. The situation was critical but not hopeless. With nothing better to do I led the J. Margaret gave count and the Reverend gave this much thought.

‘What sort of play is that, Jack from King-Jack-Ten?’ he demanded.

‘It’s either stupid or clever,’ answered Sensei, ‘or so very stupid it’s clever.’

The Reverend was displeased as he was not accustomed to having his rhetorical questions answered. After a considerable pause, he ducked. Now I had the timing to make 10 tricks on a hand where I should be held to 8. Of course, it was Margaret who accepted the blame, apologizing profusely for not covering the jack with her queen. As my hope had been to steal a trick by looking like a man with the A doubleton, I don’t see that she could be held to account.

So that’s British-style deception made in plain view giving everyone a fair chance of getting it right while maintaining the capacity of misleading the gullible. The Japanese are more subtle. From feudal times they have been taught to avoid public confrontation as many truths are necessarily unpleasant. Imagine this conversation taking place in 1944 when it was obvious to most that the war situation was hopeless.

‘Good morning Mrs Sato. I hear our navy has won a great victory in the South Pacific.’

‘Good morning Mrs Kato. Yes, and our army continues to advance into Burma.’

‘By the time of the Emperor’s birthday, the Americans will be begging for mercy.’

‘I am looking forward to a joyful celebration with meat and soba to feed my family.’

‘I think of all the money I’ve saved by not being able to buy kerosene and sugar.’

‘It’s a blessing in disguise. Lucky for us Prime Minister Tojo is in total command.’

That’s the way they would obliquely communicate their complaints without the danger of having their heads chopped off. Sometimes Japanese actually tell the truth as protection knowing they will not be believed. Well, I suppose that’s not much different from false carding. If you false-card every time, the opponents will soon catch on, thus sometimes you must give the correct count so you won’t be believed. Maybe the mild-mannered Margaret is not as reliable on the count as one would assume and that’s why the Reverend didn’t take his ace, thinking she held a doubleton although she had played the lowest card available. Interesting hand.

Bye for now. It’s late and I’m off to spend the evening in Piccadilly and Leister Square.

God, I wish you were here to come along so I wouldn’t be licking stamps in the cab on the way.

Yours always,

James

Leave a comment

Your comment