Saved by a psychic

July 12, 1959

Hard luck," the losers' overworked alibi, won't stand up in a team match thanks to the way the players sit down. The two tables look like this:

A
B
A
B

B
A
B
A

If the North-South cards of a deal have a potential grand slam, a pair from team A gets the opportunity to bid it at one table; at the other, the same big cards will be held by a pair from team B. Lady Luck plays no part in the deal; what the players do is what decides.

Suppose team A bids that grand slam in no trump and makes it for a score of 2,220. Then, at the other table, team B bids the grand slam in hearts and gets set one trick, giving team A another 100 plus. In a total-point match, team A would gain 2,320 points. But some tournaments include board-a-match team events. Each deal represents a match which is won, lost or tied, exactly like each hole in match play at golf.

In this type of competition it would make no difference whether team B made the grand slam; playing it at hearts, they could score only 2,210 points. Losing a board by 10 points or losing it by 2,320 would cost the same one point.

All of which sets the stage for this deal:

East-West vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

This deal first saw daylight in the Florida State Championship. It will serve no purpose to recount how my partner and I got to a two-heart contract with the East-West cards, resulting in a three-trick set that cost us 300 points. It seemed impossible for our teammates to tie this board by scoring 300 points against the more logical two-spade contract we assumed would be reached at the other table. A double-dummy opening of the diamond ace would need to be followed up by play that insured three diamond ruffs by South and a club ruff by North, in addition to collecting the two aces and the king in the black suits. This was too much to expect, so we chalked up the board as irretrievably lost.

However, I had not counted on my irrepressible teammate, Harry Harkavy of Miami Beach. Holding the South hand against vulnerable opponents, he opened with a psychic bid of one club, and the auction went:

SOUTH

1 [Club]
PASS
3 [Heart]
PASS

WEST

2 [Spade]
DOUBLE
PASS
PASS

NORTH

3 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS
DOUBLE

West's two-spade bid was pre-emptive. North came in with three diamonds, and West, when this was passed around to him, realized that South had perpetrated a fraud. His double was passed around to South who, in desperation, ran to three hearts. This looked to East like money from home and he took appropriate action.

West opened the king of spades. Harkavy won the trick with dummy's ace and embarked upon a crossruff. He played the ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamond. He cashed the king and ace of clubs and ruffed a club in dummy. He ruffed another diamond in his own hand and then ruffed the fourth club in dummy. This brought his total to eight tricks, and East, who had helplessly followed suit thus far, retained his five trumps headed by the three top honors.

South had left only three trumps headed by the 10, but a diamond lead from dummy assured him of winning a ninth trick. If East trumped low, South would overruff; when East trumped high, South discarded a spade and waited to make his 10 of hearts on the third trump lead.

EXTRA TRICK
Let me warn adventuresome readers that psychic and rescue bids seldom turn out so well. Risking a big disaster is permissible only in board-a-match play where the biggest loss in any deal is a single point.

PHOTO

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)