"You mean Tobias Stone?"
"You'll get yours!"
We got ours the next day, against the husband-and-wife team of Howard and Bee Schenken. Not long ago Bee (Gale) Schenken was reckoned one of the best female players alive, and her husband, a bridge columnist and author, had been in the world's top 10 for almost three decades. We never had a chance against them. Or did we? On the third hand of the 12-hand knockout match, Howard Schenken bid and made a small slam in clubs. He made the slam because the king of hearts was in my hand. Had it turned up in Cave's hand instead, Schenken would have been set and dogmeat would have won the match. Hooray for dog-meat! They laughed when we sat down at the bridge table, but let me tell you who eventually wound up playing head-to-head in the grand final match:
?The Schenkens, who had beaten us by an offside king.
?Erdos and Stone, who had beaten us by 10 points.
The two pairs played 32 hands for the money, and the Schenkens were in the game until the very last hand, when they had to make a little slam and couldn't come up with the cards. Erdos and Stone collected $13,360 and the Schenkens $5,680. There were congratulations all around, and the Stones invited Cave and me to dinner and a show. At dinner I told Stony that frankly I thought he had been lucky to beat us and that we would be glad to play him and Erdos anytime, anyplace. "You experts have been hoaxing the world for years," said the Beaujolais and I. "Cave and I will take you on and beat you right now."
"What exactly is it you are suggesting?" Stone said.
"I suggest we play a simple match, four hands, for a substantial side bet. And if you don't understand the game, we'll be glad to explain it to you."
At 2 o'clock in the morning we went to the now-darkened bridge room and settled into the black leather chairs in the now-hushed fishbowl, while dozens of imaginary kibitzers rushed for position. Stone dealt the cards, 13 to me, 13 to Cave, 14 to Erdos and 12 to himself. "What's the matter, Stony?" I said. He redealt without comment.