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"What it adds up to," he said, "is that dogmeat does have a chance. We can't win, maybe, but we can draw good cards and scare 'em." Ray said that from now on we were going to be tigers. We were not going to shake and tremble. "If we're gonna lose," he said, "let's lose through ignorance, not cowardice."
Ogust is an international player who will clobber you at the bridge table in the morning, kill you on the tennis court in the afternoon and embalm you at gin rummy in the evening. Russell's calm exterior belies his several championships and a competitive drive as strong as Ogust's. After two hands and an opposing slam, we were 1,600 points down, and if we had been tigers, they had been tyrannosauruses. But Cave dealt us a slam of our own, made a doubled contract and suddenly we were back in the match. We even had the satisfaction of seeing the other partnership arguing. After a round of bidding in which they had failed to reach game, the soft-spoken Russell said, "Harold, with me that three-spade bid is forcing."
"With me? With me?" erupted Mr. Ogust. "What is all this with-me stuff? We're playing partnership bridge! You're always saying, 'With me this is forcing!' Well, with bridge it isn't!"
By the time the explosion was over, we were down to the last hand and all Cave and I needed was a game to win the match. We didn't get it and, to make matters worse, Ogust and Russell explained how we could have won if we hadn't made certain key mistakes. They were only trying to help us, they said. Thanks a lot, we said. Until then we had been living in a fool's paradise.
We lost our next match so badly that we had to concede again after the seventh hand. So now we came into the last four matches of the qualifying round, and all we had to do to qualify was win four in a row.
"Well, what the hell," I said. "We've sure had fun."
"That was the whole idea," said the wise old Cave.
Playing our cards with gay abandon, we won our next match against a whistler and a hummer who should be banned forever from whistling and humming in a $20,000 event. In a $10,000 event, O.K., but not in a $20,000 event.
Then we beat a professional tournament director and his millionaire partner and thereby removed their last chance to qualify, and we followed up this accident by knocking out another pair who had been on the edge of elimination. That made three miracles in a row and brought us into our last match needing one more miracle to qualify for the knockout finals and a chance for the money. "Who're we playing?" I asked.