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HOW GOOD ARE YOU?

Oct. 14, 1957
Oct. 14, 1957

Table of Contents
Oct. 14, 1957

Acknowledgments
Events & Discoveries
Football: Third Week
  • While the football fans above were going wild over this 72-yard run by Minnesota's Dick Larson (15) as his team beat Purdue 21-17, others divided their concentration between football and the World Series in Milwaukee—as told below

Roosevelt Raceway
  • Bringing harness racing into the big time, the pioneers of nighttime trotting at Roosevelt Raceway in suburban New York made a sensationally successful investment in COMFORT AND COLOR

Preview
Antelope Hunt
Cards On The Table
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

HOW GOOD ARE YOU?

As a bridge player, the author contends, your main aim should be to get fun out of the game, which is a competitive sport. But he also has a cheerful—and revolutionary—method of evaluating your own rating

In taking up this very pleasant assignment, I have realized a lifelong ambition. At a time when most lads yearn to grow up to be cops, I was seized with a burning desire to become a sportswriter, an urge which grew almost irresistible when it became apparent that I lacked the talent to become a successful competitor.

This is an article from the Oct. 14, 1957 issue Original Layout

Up to now, the closest I ever came was when I was a student at McGill University (where, some while later, four young ladies were to lure me into my very first game of bridge). I had been assigned to cover one of the important hockey matches of the season. My selection for this task was of doubtful wisdom, for I had never before seen so much as a single chukker of ice polo.

I have a vague recollection of treating the spectacle as though it were the Easter Parade, but I was disappointed when a painstaking perusal of the next editions failed to reveal a trace of my masterpiece in the sports columns or anywhere else. When I summoned up courage to inquire if my story was bad, the editor was consoling. "Not bad at all, Goren. In fact, it was reasonably good," he soothed, "even though it had no relationship to hockey."

In recent years I have tried to scramble onto the sports page by pointing out to hardheaded sports editors that bridge has its heroes and its goats, its rabid rooters and its second-guessing quarterbacks, plus a fierce competitive element equal to that found in more active sports. They continued to report doings at the billiard table, the ping-pong table, even the chess table—but the bridge table? No, that would be carrying things too far.

At last, using the gifted pen of Somerset Maugham as a springboard, I am about to hurdle the long-standing barrier that has kept contract bridge off the sports page where it really belongs. I confess to a bit of stage fright, but I intend to write about bridge as a sport and expect to report anything which I believe the reader will find diverting.

Occasionally we shall dig into our personal archives for an unpublished hand of the nature of the one shown today. It was a perpetration of Hal Sims, who, despite his 300 pounds, could afford to play high-stake golf in a foursome with three professionals provided they would in turn play a few rubbers of high-stake bridge. The story has been filed under the caption "The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye." The tournament involving this hand—a National Championship at Asbury Park, New Jersey—produced an offstage sensation in the shape of a bout of fisticuffs between Sims and another of the game's top-weights.

To a bridge player there is one thing more frustrating than bidding a grand slam in no trump lacking an ace. That is to hold an ace against a no-trump grand slam and never win a trick with it. In this remarkable deal East was victimized by Sims's neat bit of hocus-pocus. But he first fell victim to his own greed.

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[6 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubes]
[5 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

WEST

[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[— of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

EAST

[Queen of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[— of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[9 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

With both sides vulnerable, South (Sims) dealt. The bidding went:

SOUTH

1 [Heart]
3 [Spade]
6 no trump
Pass

WEST

Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass

NORTH

3 [Heart]
6 [Spade]
7 no trump
Pass

EAST

Pass
Double
Double

Perhaps South's cue bid in spades was unwise, especially in view of his partner's weird leap to six in that suit, and his unrealistic push to a grand slam after Sims bid six no trump, trying to extricate himself from six spades.

East was guilty of avarice when he doubled six spades. He was to pay dearly for it. From the sound and fury of East's doubles, West's lead of a spade was entirely logical.

Sims counted 12 tricks: five hearts, five clubs and two spades. A successful spade finesse would produce the 13th—but it was impossible that the spade finesse could succeed. Sims had to find another way of pulling a rabbit out of the hat.

He took dummy's ace of spades and king of spades, discarding diamonds from his hand. Then, playing swiftly as he always did, Sims cashed his five club tricks, discarding a low spade and the lone diamond from North's hand. Now he was ready for the hocus-pocus. He cashed his heart ace, "accidentally—on purpose" playing dummy's 4. He played his heart jack, overtaking with dummy's queen. And he continued leading down the hearts until dummy remained on lead with the lowly 3.

East knew, of course, that South had another heart. He knew, too, that South did not have a spade. So he threw away the queen of spades in order to hold his ace of diamonds, expecting that South would win the last heart trick.

But East had taken his eye off the ball. When South produced his last heart, instead of being one that would win the trick and force him to surrender a diamond to East's ace, it was the lowly deuce—small enough to crawl under dummy's 3. So North, not South, won the 12th trick. And North, not East, won the vital 13th that brought home the grand slam.

It would be an appalling task to remember all 52 cards in every deal, and it is seldom necessary to do so. Let's see, for example, how East might have concentrated his attention upon the trey and deuce of hearts.

After the very first trick East could forget about the spades except for those he could see in North's hand, because South had already shown out. The next three tricks eliminated his concern about clubs. And from South's discards on tricks one and two, it was obvious that the only diamond of any consequence to East was his own ace.

Skillful deception

That left his mind free to concentrate upon hearts. The reason he was led astray, however, was that it did not seem important to him—since he did not have a heart in his hand—to pay much attention to that suit. Against the skillful deceptive tactics of an operator like Sims, even a foremost expert might have been taken off guard. It's all very human, which makes contract bridge such great fun.

Now let me offer a few suggestions that may serve to jog your memory.

First: Take a good look at the cards that have been played, for it will be impossible to recall what you have not seen. A careful concentration on each trick before it is turned may serve to imprint a photograph in your mind, one that you can pull out of the files later, if it should become necessary. However, in many cases you will find that it won't be necessary.

Second: It is the height of futility to try to remember all the cards that have been played. Start by remembering only what card is now high. Suppose, for example, the first two leads of a suit have slaughtered the six highest cards. Instead of remembering that the ace, king, queen, jack, 10 and 9 have been played, you can catalog the same information by remembering that the 8 is high.

Third: Make a special effort to remember the discards. Most tricks in bridge consist of four cards in the same suit. If you remember those tricks in which some player fails to follow suit and recall how many times the suit was led, it will be a relatively simple task to calculate how many of that suit have already been played.

Can you then be confident that you will know the 3 to be high? Probably not. But you will rarely run up against the kind of legerdemain to which East was subjected in that deal.

No one knows exactly how many bridge players there are in North America, but 50 million would be a reasonable guess. Of these, perhaps 35 million actually play or have at some time played a real game at the bridge table. The other 15 million are "napkin" players, who like to figure out the bidding and the play of hands shown in bridge columns although they never actually sit down and play with a deck of cards and three other players. Their analyses are recorded in postprandial discussions in which the table napkin serves as the blackboard.

Of these 50 million, perhaps only 5 million play regularly, and fewer than one million play well. Perhaps 100,000 are good enough to take part in tournaments; somewhat over 1,000 have done extremely well in these bridge events and have earned the American Contract Bridge League's top rating of Life Master; fewer than 100 are recognized by their peers as experts; perhaps a dozen are the caliber of superstar who would rate All-America if there were such a class in bridge.

Where do you stand in this army? To get a good idea, try your bidding skill on the following quiz. Take a pencil and note the bids you would make with the 14 hands shown on the facing page, after that I shall give you a score for your bids. But—always remember—your score is not important if you have fun playing bridge or working out bridge problems.

THE PROBLEMS

1 You are dealer and vulnerable. What is your opening bid?

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

2 You are dealer and vulnerable. What is your opening bid?

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]

3 You are dealer and vulnerable. What is your opening bid?

[Ace of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

4 Both sides vulnerable. Your partner bids one no trump, your right-hand opponent passes. What is your bid?

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubes]
[King of Clubes]
[Queen of Clubes]
[6 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[9 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]

5 Both sides vulnerable. Your partner bids one no trump, your right-hand opponent passes. What is your bid?

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

6 Both sides vulnerable. Your partner bids one no trump, your right-hand opponent passes. What is your bid?

[Ace of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubes]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

7 Both vulnerable. Opponent bids two clubs over your partner's opening no-trump bid. What is your bid?

[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Clubes]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

8 Both vulnerable. Opponent bids two clubs over your partner's opening no-trump bid. What is your bid?

[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

9 Both vulnerable. Opponent bids two clubs over your partner's opening no-trump bid. What is your bid?

[King of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

10 Neither vulnerable. Opponent bids two diamonds over your partner's one spade. What do you bid?

[Queen of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[9 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubes]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

11 Neither vulnerable. Opponent bids two diamonds over your partner's one spade. What do you bid?

[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubes]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

12 Neither vulnerable. Your right hand opponent opens the bidding with one heart. What is your bid?

[5 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubes]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]

13 Neither vulnerable. Your right-hand opponent opens the bidding with one heart. What is your bid?

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubes]
[King of Clubes]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

14 Neither vulnerable. Your right-hand opponent opens the bidding with one heart. What is your bid?

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

Note your bids—and then check your bridge rating

HERE ARE THE ANSWERS

Awards for various bids range from 5 points, for the best answer, down to 0.

1

One no trump 5 points
One heart 3 points
Two no trump 1 point
Two hearts 0 points

The winning bid on this hand is one no trump. The hand is evenly balanced and contains 17 high-card points. Note that only 3 points are allowed for the bid of one heart, for the reason that future bidding is much more difficult if the hand is opened in this manner. If, for example, partner responds with a bid of one no trump to the opening bid of a heart, it will be difficult to decide whether or not to go on. The other two calls are actually not worth considering but are included for the sake of completeness. One point is allowed for the bid of two no trump only because it is superior to the opening bid of two hearts.

2

One diamond 5 points
One club 4 points
One no trump 1 point
One spade 0 points

The best bid is one diamond, the suit below the singleton, though an opening bid of one club might work out just as well. However, we allow 1 point below perfect for this answer. One point is allowed for the reply of one no trump simply to recognize the human desire to cash 150 honors. We allow no credit for the bid of one spade, which would make it rather difficult to develop the bidding.

3

Two no trump 5 points
Two clubs 4 points
Three no trump 2 points
One club 1 point
One no trump 0 points

The perfect bid is two no trump. The hand is worth 22 points when we add a point for possession of all four aces. The next best call is two clubs, which is forcing to game, and so would not work out quite as well if partner had a complete blank. Three no trump is allowed 2 points simply because it might prove the winning procedure with a timid partner. One point is allowed for the bid of a club merely because there is little risk of a pass-out, but no credit is given to an opening bid of one no trump, which will almost surely be passed by partner.

4

Two clubs 5 points
Three no trump 4 points
Three clubs 3 points
Two no trump 1 point
Two spades 0 points

The maximum award is given for the bid of two clubs. This is conventional and requires the no-trump bidder to name a four-card major suit if he has one. If that situation develops, then surely a contract of four spades should be superior. The next best score is awarded for the bid of three no trump. The hand contains 11 high-card points and the partnership possesses at least 27. A bid of three clubs is acceptable because as a jump bid it is forcing to game. But it has the disadvantage of divulging too much information to the adversaries. We reluctantly award a point for the bid of two no trump simply because it is better than the call of two spades, for which we award the booby prize.

5

Four spades 5 points
Three spades 3 points
Two spades 2 points
Pass 0 points

Full credit is given to the bid of four spades, which is a sound gamble supporting a 16-point hand. Next in line comes three spades, which is forcing to game and is therefore equivalent to four spades, but it has the disadvantage of promising greater high-card strength than the hand contains. The slightest award is given to two spades simply because the holder took some action, but the pass with this highly unbalanced hand receives no credit at all. In fact, in a more severe moment, we might charge a demerit.

6

Three no trump 5 points
Three spades 4 points
Two no trump 1 point
Two spades 0 points

Full credit goes to the bid of three no trump with this hand, which is evenly balanced and contains 10 high-card points. The next best bid is three spades, forcing to game, but we prefer not to resort to this call with such an evenly balanced hand. A take-out to two spades, which more or less obliges the opener to pass, is given no credit whatsoever. The award of 1 point to the bid of two no trump is charitable, but at least there is some hope that the partner might carry on.

7

Double 5 points
Pass 3 points
Two diamonds 1 point
Two no trump 0 points

The 100% bid is double. While the game is doubtful, a penalty is assured. The pass is awarded second-best score because the hand is not quite good enough for two no trump. We give no credit for the raise of the original no-trump bid with 7 points and a balanced hand. A slight award is given for the bid of two diamonds, which is construed as a weakness call.

8

Two no trump 5 points
Double 2 points
Pass 1 point
Two diamonds 1 point

Full award for the bid of two no trump. A stopper in the adverse suit is not necessary when partner opens with one no trump. The hand contains 9 points in high cards, and even a bid of three no trump might be acceptable in view of the texture of the five-card suit. An award of 2 points is made for the penalty double, since it is doubtful that the opponents can win eight tricks against an opening no trump. The award of 1 point for the bid of two diamonds is rather more than the bid deserves. Giving 1 point for a pass displays a liberal streak in this department's nature.

9

Three clubs 5 points
Three no trump 4 points
Double 3 points
Two hearts 2 points
Two spades 2 points

Full credit is given for the bid of three clubs, a postgraduate call. A cue bid forces the partnership to an eventual game contract. It is made in the hope that partner will name a major suit. The next best call is three no trump, for with 13 high-card points game is assured. An award of 3 points is made for a double because the adversaries should be overwhelmed on sheer power. Minor awards are given for the bids of two hearts, two spades, which with some luck might pan out. However, these calls are not recommended.

10

Two spades 5 points
Pass 3 points
Two no trump 2 points
Double 1 point
Three clubs 0 points

The best bid is a single raise to two spades. Our second choice is the pass. Slight credit is given for the call of two no trump, which on this sequence should be based on a somewhat better high-card holding. Award of 1 point is made for the double, just to pay respect to an enterprising nature. The bid we should like to reprimand is three clubs. Showing one's five-card suit does not justify the risk involved in launching a bidding campaign. A three-club bid would force partner to speak again and could readily lead to an unmanageable situation.

11

Double 5 points
Pass 3 points
Two hearts 2 points
Two no trump 1 point
Three clubs 0 points

Double. Opposite a partner who has opened the bidding, this should be profitable. The pass is our second choice. And slight credit is awarded for the bid of two hearts, which in some cases might work out well. We take a dim view of the bid of two no trump for the purpose of showing the diamond stopper. However, we allow a consolation 1 point because it is superior to a bid of three clubs.

12

Pass 5 points
One no trump 3 points
One no trump 2 points
Double 2 points
Two diamonds 1 point

Top billing goes to the pass. There should be no anxiety to bid; your best prospect for a profit is to set the opponents. If the urge to bid does exist, the only reasonable call is one no trump, but this lacks by 2 points the standard requirement. We allow slight credit for the double for the benefit of those who could not hold their peace. Award of 1 point for the two-diamond call is made for the purpose of recognizing determination. This is a sure way to impair one's credit in the community.

13

Double 5 points
Double 4 points
One spade 3 points
Two clubs 2 points

A double is the clear form of action. This is for a take-out. Our next choice lies between a pass, awaiting developments, and an overcall of one spade. The overcall of two clubs is least favored in our scheme. Minor-suit over-calls have so little to gain. However, since this is a reasonably sound hand, a limited award is made for competing.

14

Two hearts 5 points
Double 4 points
Two spades 2 points
One spade 1 point

The cue bid of two hearts, forcing to game, receives a full award. The next best call is a double. We allow only 1 point for the overcall of one spade, which is drastically inadequate. The award of 2 points for the bid of two spades is made out of consideration to those players who have not yet become familiar with our new pre-emptive jump overcall.

YOUR RATING

EXPERT 63 to 70
TOP RANK 56 to 62
GOOD 42 to 55
AVERAGE 28 to 41
UNDER 28 You need a few lessons

NINE PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONSDAN WEINERPHOTODAN WEINERLOCKER ROOM VISITOR to pregame Dodger bridge set is Charles Goren (in civvies). Playing the hand is Billy Herman (22), while Ed Roebuck (37) and Gil Hodges defend.