Uruguay was bulging at the seams when a Regency Club bridge team, representing the U.S., arrived there to play in the first Pan-American championships at Punta del Este, beginning on Washington's Birthday, February 22.

Americans found a warm friend at court in the person of Miguel Paez Vilaró of Montevideo, proprietor of a chain of movie theaters and the self-appointed unofficial good-will agent of the Uruguayan people. A bridge player of some stature himself, he has done much to promote the sport in Uruguay—where, according to him, it has increased at least tenfold in the past two years. Expressing himself very cordially on the subject of my teammates, Paez Vilaró felt that the tournament made an important contribution in the field of good will, since the U.S. team, he said, was comprised of men so eminently suitable for the promotion of friendly relations between the U.S. and South American countries. He referred, of course, not only to the conduct of the individual players, but to the personification of international amity reflected by the fact that our team included Boris Koytchou, a former French champion, Constantin Platsis, shipping magnate and former ace in the Greek air force, and Ivan Wichfeld, a native of Denmark. Only half our U.S. team was native-born: Peter Leventritt (who with Koytchou was a member of my 1957 international team), Wingate Bixby, president of the Regency Club, and, of course, your reporter.

The local press was quite generous in its allotment of editorial space to the bridge championship, particularly since we dovetailed with the European Film Festival. Our final round was played amidst the arrival of movie-star delegations from France, Germany and Italy, who shared our headquarters at the beautiful Cantegril Country Club of Punta del Este.

There were five teams opposing us—one each from Argentina, Brazil and Chile and two from Uruguay. In a round-robin series of contests the U.S. team succeeded in winning all of its matches to take the undisputed championship of the Pan-American Union. The title, however, was not decided until the conclusion of our final match against an Argentine team that was very much still in the running.

At the start of the tournament the Argentines were regarded as co-favorites. Many observers rated their lineup of Alejandro Castro, Alberto Blousson, Hector Kramer, Luis A. Schenone, Alfredo Saravia and Carlos Ottolenghi as more impressive than the team which had just returned from playing against Italy and the United States in the World Championship. Two of Argentina's strongest players, Kramer and Schenone, due to illness had been unable to play in the World Championship in Italy.

An Argentine victory in the final match would have thrown the tournament into a tie. However, the U.S. team finished strongly, in a match consisting of 60 deals and won by a margin which is roughly equivalent to 4,500 points.

The first of two crucial hands from this final match is the one presented below:

North and South vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

[8 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

WEST

[9 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

EAST

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

EAST
(Kramer)

1 [Spade]
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Goren)

DOUBLE
2 NO TRUMP
3 NO TRUMP
6 [Diamond]

WEST
(Castro)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Leventritt)

2 [Diamond]
3 [Diamond]
5 [Diamond]
PASS

East opened the play with the king of hearts.

Leventritt, sitting North, became declarer at a contract of six diamonds. The bidding may appear to be a little exotic, particularly East's opening bid of one spade. This Argentine pair were experimenting with the Italian method which ruled out a club opening, for in their system such a bid designates a hand containing at least 17 points in high cards. East therefore chose to open with his rather emaciated holding in spades. Your reporter held the South hand and felt that East was trying to engineer a bit of highway robbery. It was close point whether or not to make an immediate cue bid, but the ultimate decision was in favor of a take-out double.

Leventritt dutifully bid two diamonds, and your reporter restrained himself with a bid of two no trump, feeling that no stronger bid was acceptable if it turned out that North had nothing. North did not take kindly to the no-trump bid and went on to three diamonds, hoping that partner would subside. I was in no mood to give up and, trusting to a favorable diamond break, went on to three no trump. Leventritt then decided to contract for game in diamonds, and, inspired by the holding of four aces, your correspondent went on to six diamonds.

An opening lead of the king of clubs would have scuttled the ship, but there is no fault to be found in East's choice of the king of hearts. This was won with the ace, and a heart was ruffed in the North hand, and the queen of diamonds led. When East showed out Leventritt went up with the ace of diamonds and trumped the remaining heart. A diamond placed the lead with West, and the 10 of clubs came back. This was won with the ace and, as Leventritt ran all his diamonds, East found it impossible to hold on to his club trick and also protect dummy's spades.

The score recorded for the Americans was 1,370 points and represented an enormous swing, inasmuch as the Argentine North-South pair in the other room played the hand at three no trump, to which South had leaped and which North was reluctant to disturb. A heart opening by West established the suit at once, and the king of diamonds afforded West a sure re-entry to cash the balance of the heart suit for a two-trick set and another 200 points for the U.S.

In the next deal, a daring defensive play by Boris Koytchou defeated what appeared to be an invincible game contract and further increased the U.S. score.

North, holding only 12 points and an evenly balanced hand, elected to pass. South's bid of one spade in third position is acceptable procedure and, though North's jump to four spades with only three trumps is somewhat irregular, the final contract of four spades is irreproachable.

The king of hearts was opened and ruffed by declarer. When the spade finesse lost to East, a heart came back, and declarer chose to discard one of his losing clubs to avoid being forced too early. West won and led a third round of hearts which South ruffed. Declarer then led a trump to the ace and led the 9 of diamonds for the finesse. Without the sign of a tremor, Koytchou played low despite his doubleton. The finesse was repeated, of course, and West won. Now Koytchou led a fourth round of hearts, putting declarer out of business. If he ruffed in the closed hand, West's 9 of spades would become established; if he ruffed with North's low spade he would have no way of exiting from dummy without permitting West's spade to score.

Now for a holiday from bridge I shall take myself to Buenos Aires, where just 10 years ago I made my first South American bridge tour, with two of my current teammates, Peter Leventritt and Wingate Bixby. During that trip we became friends with Alejandro Castro, then (as now) the Argentine bridge captain. Then back to "winter in March" for the spring national championships in Atlantic City, climaxed by the Vanderbilt Team of Four event that will help to decide next year's World Championship entry.

PHOTO PHOTOVICTORIOUS U.S. PLAYERS take a breather in the South American sun, showing off their summer finery outside Cantegril Country Club. They are Ivan Wichfeld, Peter Leventritt, Charles Goren, Boris Koytchou, Wingate Bixby, Constantin Platsis.

Both vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

[Queen of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Hearts] none
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[6 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

EAST

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

NORTH
(Blousson)

PASS
4 [Spade]

EAST
(Leventritt)

PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Ottolenghi)

1 [Spade]
PASS

WEST
(Koytchou)

PASS
PASS

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)