The small-club incident

October 05, 1958

I watched thishand played at the Cavendish Club," my good friend Sonny Moyse reports."I'd write it up for The Bridge World," continued the editor of thatjournal for the bridge elite, "if I thought anyone would believe me. Butsince everybody accepts your writings as gospel, I think you ought to tell thestory."

Thus challenged,how could I refuse?

The cast ofcharacters fully accords with the action. East was the charming Rhoda Montorci,whom you may have admired during the weeks while she spelled her way to a smallfortune on the TV program, Top Dollar. West was the international star, BorisKoytchou. North was one of our brilliant younger players, David Strasberg. AndSouth, the eventual declarer, was Mrs. Joseph Gale, present holder of thenational mixed pair title.

The East handmeets many of the requirements for an opening two bid: game in hand, threesuits with first round control, it even has enough points—20—for a hand with an8-card suit and a good five-card suit. Strategically, however, the two bid isnot to be commended. There is no danger that this hand could pass out at acontract of one spade. There is danger that partner will carry the bidding toohigh with the wrong aces, or that the opponents will be warned of East'sfreakish distribution—as indeed they were.

North's threeno-trump bid was the "unusual" no trump—a call for South to choosebetween the two minor suits. When South found enough materiel to show thediamonds in spite of the intervening four-spade bid, North knew she held realdiamond length. East's five-heart bid confirmed North's suspicion that East hadan extreme freak, and her pass to six diamonds was further evidence of no clubor diamond losers. So, when West went on to six hearts, North decided that hispartner would be short in that suit and that the finesses in clubs or diamondswould be "on."

I admire North'sreasoning; but not nearly so much as I admire East's courage in allowing thedouble of seven diamonds to stand. She could hardly be confident that West'sclubs included the 5 spot! Yet it was upon just that lowly card that the grandslam depended.

The heart openingwas won with dummy's ace. With a grand slam hanging in the balance, Bea Galetook plenty of time to analyze her chances. Eventually, she reached the sameconclusion that led Strasberg to bid seven diamonds although he was reasonablysure he could defeat six hearts. She decided that East was void in both theminor suits. So she did her best to put a fast one past Boris Koytchou.

Dummy's ace ofdiamonds won the second trick, and a low diamond put South in with the king.Here South led the innocent-looking 6 of clubs. Had West put on the 5, declarerintended to let the 6 spot ride for the essential deep finesse that would havemade the contract. But Boris Koytchou is well known as an insomniac whileseated at a bridge table—especially when the contract is a grand slam. Hecovered the 6 of clubs with the 7 forcing dummy's jack. Thereafter, by coveringeach club led by South, West established the 5 of clubs as the thin littletrick that saved a fat bundle of points.

EXTRA TRICK
A two bid is best reserved for a hand which can be properly described in noother way and with which there is danger you will be passed out if you openwith a bid of only one. Without an overwhelming share of high cards, a two bidis seldom necessary and rarely advisable.

Neither side vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]

EAST

2 [Spade]
4 [Spade]
5 [Heart]
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

PASS
5 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

WEST

2 NO TRUMP
PASS
PASS
6 [Heart]
DOUBLE

NORTH

3 NO TRUMP
PASS
6 [Diamond]
7 [Diamond]
PASS

Opening lead: heart 2

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

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)