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Wishful Tricking

Only 42% of you know that a wish trick is A, 2, 3, 4, according to the results of our Playful Poll. "That's disturbing," said world champion Nick Nickell, an ardent wish-tricker. Nickell went on to explain some of the finer points of wish tricking.

"Some people believe a wish trick is only a wish trick if the cards are played in order: Ace, two, three, four," he said. "I'm not that much of a purist." Nickell also described the variations of a wish trick: multi-suited, multi-colored and the very rare case of a wish trick on the third round of a suit. Another oddity is the "reverse wish trick"---two, three, four, five. The first player at the table to call, "Wish trick," gets their wish.

Some players believe in what is known as the high wish trick: A, K, Q, J -the choice of 9% of the Playful Pollsters. More than 700 voted in the poll. Thirty-three percent guessed that a wish trick was a trick won with a deuce; 14% said the first overtrick.

Nickell recalled a midnight Swiss long ago with teammates Lynn Deas and the late Norb Kremer, both wish trick proponents.

"Norb was dummy in 7NT doubled and redoubled with the lead of the ace of clubs, followed by the 2, 3, 4," Nickell said. "Norb said, 'Look, it's a wish trick!' He was delighted."

Deas---the ill-fated declarer in the contract on an auction she remembers to this day---calls herself the queen of wish tricks. Her first dog was named Wish Trick, and she and Kremer once went to a Halloween party "dressed" in aces, twos, threes and fours.

She recalled a hand she played in a Montreal regional. "It took me forever because I wanted to figure out a way to bring dummy and my hand down to wish tricks."

The quest for wish tricks can brighten up an otherwise dismal session, Deas added. "If somebody has a bad game, I'll ask them, 'Well, how many wish tricks did you have?'"

Expert wish- trickers also have a signal to take the pressure off partner. If dummy is holding the ace and king of a suit and declarer leads the 2, followed by the 3, declarer will call for the king rather than the ace to let dummy know that no wish trick is possible-declarer has the 4.

Nickell announces his wish tricks whenever possible. "It keeps you even, balanced and relaxed," he said. He admits to some strange looks from foreign players-"unfortunate, uninformed souls"-at world championships. During a U.S. team trials, he once held the A, 2, 3, 4 of spades. His friend and fellow wish-tricker Dave Smith was operating the vugraph computer. "Look," Nick whispered to Dave, "I have a wish trick in my own hand."

When told that the term "wish trick" was missing from the ACBL's Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, an affronted Nickell snapped, "That is a blatant omission that must be corrected in the future."