by Kiran Kedlaya




First of all, here are the answers to the clues. There are some patterns that make it easier to solve these; more on those below.


point, net, bid, made

coccyx, Arctic Circle, results, imps

diddle diddle, old fuddy-duddy, final examination, Great Barrier Reef

"rose is a rose is a rose is a rose", Mississippi state park system, tax assessors, guerrilla warfare

idee fixe, Adam Bede, double, Portrait of a Lady

West Sussex, Brussels sprouts, Sex Pistols, petroleum jelly

Just So Stories, Sargasso Sea, cicatrix, calico cat

"Wherefore art thou Romeo?", hula hoop, Cracker Jack, cable car

xerography, faith healer, Heigh Ho, hit the hay

ExxonMobil, bon vivant, lotus-eater, trespasses

European Union, non-vulnerable, Black, calamari

sassafras, Swiss system, Mexico City, Time After Time

as slow as molasses, "a kiss is still a kiss", Learning Annex, veggie burger

nitrogen fixation, nineteen ninety-one, lead dioxide, two-by-four

Annie Get Your Gun, Brownian motion, vox populi vox Dei, bridge


This table is to be interpreted as a scoresheet for a two-table game of

duplicate bridge (as suggested by the title and a number

of the clue answers). In each of the normal and parallel universes, the

first and second columns represent the number of tricks bid and made,

respectively (as suggested by the answers BID and MADE in the top

row of the parallel universe). To keep this simple, we are assuming that

the same pair of positions plays all of the contracts at both tables (so

that the scores in the two columns represent the scores earned by the

two different teams).


The way this works is that each clue answer in the first column contains

exactly one of the letters C, D, H, S, N, repeated some number of times.

That answer represents a bid of that many tricks in the corresponding suit: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades, notrump. If the answer contains one or two Xs, the bid is doubled or redoubled, respectively. For instance,

the bid "coccyx" in the second row of the normal universe represents a bid of 3 clubs doubled. The adjacent answer in the second column contains the same one of C, D, H, S, N some number of times, possibly zero (and none of the others); this represents the number of tricks made above "book" (the first six tricks, which are included implicitly in every bid).


For instance, in the example above, the answer "Arctic Circle" represents

4 clubs made, so the contract was made with one overtrick. Note: in the

normal universe, all contracts are made, but in the parallel universe,

some contracts are made and some are not.


To score each row, find a duplicate bridge score chart online, e.g.,

and work out the raw score, positive or negative, earned by the declaring

partnership at each table. (There are explicit rules for these, but it is

easier to use a score chart that lists the exact score for every possible

outcome; since these are used in real life, they are not hard to find.)

To do this correctly, you must account for vulnerability: the declaring

partnership is vulnerable on a given hand if the clues in the corresponding row are printed in red, and black otherwise. (Besides being a reasonable guess, this is suggested by the clue answers "non-vulnerable" and "Black" in line 11.)


Once you have done this, take the difference between the scores on each

hand in the normal and parallel universes (this difference is always positive) and convert it into International Match Points (IMPs), as suggested by the clue answers in the first two rows. These give numbers from 1 to 26; converting these to letters as usual yields ANSWER DECKHOUSE.


For reference, here are the scores and IMPs for each hand.

non: 1N making 1N  = 90; 1D making 1D = 70; net 20 = 1 IMP

vul: 3Cx making 4C = 870; 2S making 1S = -100; net 970 = 14 IMPs

vul: 6D making 6D = 1370; 3Nx making 0N = -800; net 2170 = 19 IMPs

vul: 7S making 7S = 2210; 5Sx making 0S = -1400; net 3610 = 23 IMPs

non: 1Dx making 2D = 240; 1D making 1D = 70; net 170 = 5 IMPs

vul: 4Sx making 5S = 990; 3Sx making 0S = -800; net 1790 = 18 IMPs

non: 4S making 4S = 420; 2Cx making 3C = 280; net 140 = 4 IMPs

vul: 2H making 2H = 110; 3C making 2C = -100; net 210 = 5 IMPs

non: 1HX making 2H = 260; 3H making 3H = 140; net 120 = 3 IMPs

non: 1NXX making 2N = 760; 1S making 4S = 170; net 590 = 11 IMPs

non: 3N making 3N = 400; 1C making 1C = 70; net 330 = 8 IMPs

vul: 4S making 5S = 650; 2Cx making 0C = -500; net 1150 = 15 IMPs

vul: 6S making 6S = 1430; 4Nx making 0N = -1100; net 2530 = 21 IMPs

vul: 3Nx making 6N = 1350; 3Dx making 0D = -800; net 2150 = 19 IMP

non: 3N making 3N = 400; 1Dxx making 1D = 230; net 170 = 5 IMPs