Please ID this SF story....

Back when I was in high school, I had this collection I’d gotten from the SFBC. It was two volumes, and was an anthology of Golden Age SF. I ditched it during one of my many moves, but I got to thinking about one story I read in it, and it’s bugging me now that I don’t know who wrote it or what it’s called.

As I recall, the crew of some ship were champs at a game that involved bouncing light rays off mirrors they wore into goals of some sort. They’re forced to fight the enemy aliens, they’re unarmed for some reason, and they use the mirrors to win a laser battle. Absolutely the only reason I remember the story was the punchline, which was a groaner. I imagine if you recognize the story, you won’t have forgotten it (the punchline, I mean).

I don’t think I’ve ever read that story, but I do know that Asimov (RIP) was very, very fond of short stories ending in awful puns. They were great. So, can’t promise, but it might narrow the field a bit…

The story is titled Bullard Reflects and it is by Malcolm Jameson from 1941. All of the Bullard stories were collected in Bullard Reflects published in 1951. A fun collection but most of them didn’t end in the horrible puns.

Okay, since almost none of the Teeming Millions will be buying the story, spoil it for us: What was the punchline?

The punchline was something like “Upon reflection, the enemy retired”. Not worth waiting up for.
I have to point out that tthe game in this story was a little absurd. It should have been obvious when it was written. It certainly should have been by the time I read it, and lasers were around. The idea was that team members wore curved mirrors on their wrists and ankles, trying to send a light beam by reflecting it, from person to person if necessary, into the opponent’s goal.

If I give you a mirror and I take a laser pointer and ask you to redirect a beam that I’m constantly moving into a designated spot, what are the odds that it’ll get there? How likely if you have to bank it off a friend;s moving mirror? I’m not satying it’s impossible, especially if it doesn’t have to “dwell” there. But it’s unlikely.
The earth guys weren’t “forced” to play the game in the story – they improvised playing equipment from a material they found that would reflect the rays of the bad guy’s new ray, and used their team skills to redirect the bad guys’ beams back at them.

Yeah, that’s it!!! Thank you so much. I can’t explain why it was bothering me, it was just one of those things, but now it’s a load (or at least a minor irritation) off my mind.

All right, here goes. After winning the battle, the leader (Bullard, one presumes) sends a message back to HQ–“Upon reflection, the enemy surrendered.”

Ooops–you posted while I was writing mine.

I couldn’t remember the exact circumstances of their using their game skills in the battle. My dim memory told me they were outnumbered, or unarmed, or something that required them to be inventive to win the battle, but I can’t remember anything more specific. I haven’t read the story for some twenty years. The punchline stuck in my head, though, couldn’t get rid of that if I tried.

I can’t believe I did that. The actual title of the collection is Bullard of the Space Patrol. I screwed up the C&P.

The stories are not great, but they are okay. Especially considering they were written in the early 40s.