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                         SANDY SANDFORT
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This week's episode, "Code Name: Stalemate," was a two-parter.

The Team goes to Venezuela to protect Andre Sokal, an ex-KGB
agent, who is playing in a big chess tournament.  Andre in now
part of the Russian reform movement and Communist hard-liners
want to assassinate him.

H.E.A.T.'s archenemy, Strake, is hired to do the job.  Strake is
a violent but sensitive megalomaniac who eschews a simple bullet
to the head because a good assassination is "a theatrical
performance that must show the genius of the assassin" or
something like that.

Strake first shoots one of the real chess players in the back,
which shows curiously little genius.  He then replaces him with a
surgically altered double.  It goes downhill from there.

The crypto and hi-tech angles are many.  Ashley (Catherine
Oxenberg, who I have been told was *not* Ringo's wife) replaces
one of the other chess players.  (No, she doesn't shoot her in
the back, they were old friends.  Ashley just happens to play at
the grandmaster level and anyway, Chrissie will be feeding her
computer generated moves via a radio receiver in Ashley's
eyeglass frames.  Strake's ringer is also strategically impaired
and so Strake is helping him with a laptop with a screen that
only the double can see because he is wearing special glasses.
(Why not just use an LCD screen?  Nobody can read those things

Unfortunately, Strake has brought in an electronics communication
expert from Russia (Ivan something-or-other).  Ivan spoofs the
H.E.A.T. computers and satellite communications uplinks.  When
the Team discovers their communications have been compromised,
Mike tells Ashley not to use their normal communications until
the system is secure.  When she asks how should communicate, Mike
tells her to "use the phone."  (Now *that's* secure!)

Ivan is available to Strake, because his research funding dried
up when the USSR went belly up.  Too bad, because "he was on the
verge of developing a microchip which would have been able to
decrypt any secure computer."  Yeah, right.

To be continued next week.

 S a n d y