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Crouching Beaver Hidden Double

“Buy a suit? Come see my shop? Only a minute! Just look – you don’t have to buy.”

A friend once told me that when he moved to Hong Kong, an innocent Australian lad, just 18, and unwise in the ways of the world, his parents informed him that Chung King Mansion was off limits. Amid the splendor of Nathan Road, some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, there it stood, a dozen little ghettos, all under one roof. What was it his parents feared would happen to him there? Would they hook him on drugs? Would they steal his passport, and then sell him a counterfeit? Would he exchange his allowance for fake Rolexes? Contract cholera from contaminated curry? As near as I could tell, the gravest danger was from the tailors. Break stride, and they’d have you. Tied up with measuring tape, buried under bolts and swatches, your last words: “I hate double-breasted!”

“No thanks. Another time.” That time being about when they start building igloos in Hell, or we Chicagoans celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series. The Sheraton loomed ahead, and I turned off Nathan.

“I wrote down that I turn on the middle road, but what’s its name?” I asked Robin Swaffield. “Middle Road.” So it was. At the end was the Mariners Club.

Once upon a time, a few hundred meters away, British frigates, Chinese junks, and assorted dhows, dories, sloops, and triremes, for all I know, scudded and tacked through Hong Kong harbor. A place had to be made for the sailors coming ashore, and here on the Kowloon side one such place was the Mariners Club.

“You’re not a sailor,” I protested to Robin.
“No, but they have a swimming pool, so I joined.”

Good thing he had, as we were looking for a game. Mondays the Hong Kong game is at the Ladies’ Recreation Club, up on Old Peak Road. Otherwise, it’s usually at John Simon’s house, or possibly at the American Club, where Steve Nelson is a member. But this was Friday, and John was in Manila, and Steve in America, and we were desperate for a place to play. Proof of our desperation may be seen in these specimens.

Which of these should not be taken? Careful, the answer is tricky. I’ll let you think about it awhile.

“Seen that movie?” Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may have been a critical hit in the States, but in Hong Kong they were not impressed.
“I’ve been watching them fly around like that for 20 years, ever since I moved here.”
“And that’s just the Evening News!”

We had our own aerial acrobatics. Here, the wrong play let our opponent sail through the air, to smite us with his Blot of Fury.

Our Captain, Melody Rae, wanted to hit 3/2*, then continue 2/1, and stack the remaining blot 10/8. I was not opposed to leaving blots, but since we would have no direct covers, I persuaded her to make the “safe” 3/2*(3), 10/9. Melody’s play was both correct, and better, as the Box, Max Modesti, sailed in from the bar, and up over our prime, hitting with a 3-6.

I did better with this one.


I was in the Box. The lone taker was Max. Melody had simply dropped when I cubed, but Robin offered an extra – “drop and give” in the local parlance – which Max had to take if he wanted to play it out. Extra givers are not allowed to consult, but once my dice were up after 8/2*, 4/2, Robin wondered if I hadn’t been hasty. “You could have had a six-prime.” True enough, but if I closed him out before he could move again, Max would need 14 crossovers to save the gammon, worth a little risk, I thought. In fact, pointing is quite a bit safer than priming and hitting loose. If White hits back he may easily win a priming battle. Priming without hitting is safest of all, but the gain is about 3.5% wins, trading away nearly 16% more gammons!

While we are playing “crazy 8s,” what about this early game 6-2?

Four good choices. There is the super safe 24/18, 10/8; the somewhat safe 24/18, 13/11; the in some ways safe 18/10; and the certainly not safe 10/4, 6/4. With the enemy 5-point made, reject the plays that do not make his barpoint. The difference between the two safest plays is small, but the flexible 13/11 is an acceptable risk, and the slightly better choice.

BZZT! Times up. You have had sufficient time to decide on your answer to the question I posed earlier, and I’ve a chouette to get to. Which of the three cubes shouldn’t you have taken? If you noticed that none of the three were proper doubles or redoubles, you were pointed in the right direction. Of course none are drops, but the second position is the only non-take. You should beaver it!

 

 

 
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