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The Dogmeat Was Hard to Swallow
Jack Olsen
November 14, 1966
Being both a topical essay describing the adventures of two neighborhood-type bridge pigeons who find themselves among a field of wolfish Life Masters in the richest tournament ever held and an illuminating commentary on the vanity of man
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November 14, 1966

The Dogmeat Was Hard To Swallow

Being both a topical essay describing the adventures of two neighborhood-type bridge pigeons who find themselves among a field of wolfish Life Masters in the richest tournament ever held and an illuminating commentary on the vanity of man

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Ray grabbed me before I sat down. "Now, listen," he said in the avuncular manner he sometimes affects. "Just forget all about that last match. We followed suit, didn't we?"

"Mostly," I said.

"And we didn't do anything wrong, did we?"

"No. But they said we did."

"Well, never mind. Just settle down and have fun." His voice sounded on edge. "Just have fun!" he commanded.

We wobbled over to the table and shook hands with two of the most nondescript-looking opponents you ever laid eyes on. I didn't get their names, but I could tell instantly that they were a long way from the genius level. One of them wore a sort of hangdog look, a la Buster Keaton, but he did manage an occasional forced friendly smile, like a puppy at the vet's. The other had longish hair, curling at the back, like a 17th century professor of philology at Heidelberg. He, too, seemed to be going out of his way to act pleasant. Buster Keaton began a long explanation of their "deviations." Neither Cave nor I could follow him, although we kept nodding our heads in frantic agreement. When Buster was finished, the professor chimed in with something about the "Astro" convention. "Of course," he said, "we play Roth-Stone, and our club bids tend to be forcing and artificial." This gave me the terrible temptation to say, "Ours tend to be stupid and inaccurate," but I restrained myself. We were off.

At the beginning Cave and I picked up practically every picture card, and we jumped into a quick and solid lead. But what sportsmen our opponents turned out to be! Once I led out of turn, and they simply told me to put the card back in my hand. When Cave and I put up what seemed to me to be a singularly poor defense and I commented, "Nolo contendere" Buster Keaton said, "Well I thought you defended very well."

The professor mentioned that they had lost their first match, and something about his modest manner touched my heart. The poor fellows. Here were Cave and I, playing just for the hell of it, and we were about to inflict a second straight loss on these fellows who, no doubt, took their bridge very seriously and yet were being so sportif about losing. They weren't dressed very well (one of them wore shower clogs), and maybe they had spent all their money getting to Las Vegas to play. I almost felt like taking a dive. But, as luck would have it, they picked up a good hand and scored a game. Now we were coming into the eighth and final deal, with our side still enjoying a diminished but comfortable lead. The professor did some figuring, and it developed that the only way they could beat us was to rack up at least four no trump, an extremely unlikely happening. I dealt the cards.

NORTH
( Buster Keaton )

[9 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[x of Spades]
[x of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[x of Clubs]
[x of Clubs]

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