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Pity the poor prognosticator

Aug. 17, 1959
Aug. 17, 1959

Table of Contents
Aug. 17, 1959

The Big Four
Millions At Stake
Report From Valencia:
Horse Racing
Tip From The Top
Food
Baseball
  • By Robert Boyle

    The Giants' newest Willie is more than just a thunderous hitter. He's cool, man. If the fried chicken and shoot-'em-ups hold out, big league pitching doesn't figure to bother him a bit

Part I: The Great MacPhail
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Pity the poor prognosticator

In recent weeks I find myself increasingly in sympathy with the weather man.

This is an article from the Aug. 17, 1959 issue Original Layout

In connection with the series of championship bridge matches which will be televised over the ABC network beginning Sunday, October 18, part of my role is to predict what I think is going to happen on each deal. It seems to me that the deals on which I issue storm warnings often turn out rather calmly, while those I forecast as rather routine turn out to be as stormy as this combination which produced a violent swing in a team-of-four match. This, of course, was not a television hand (the TV matches are strictly pair-against-pair at rubber bridge); but it aptly illustrates the perilous role of the would-be prognosticator.

If you looked over this layout and were asked to predict the result, you might make the conservative forecast that either side could make some part score. How wrong you'd be. At the first table where the hand was played, the bidding went:

SOUTH

PASS
DOUBLE
PASS

WEST

1 N.T.
3 [Diamond]
PASS

NORTH

PASS
PASS
PASS

EAST

2 [Diamond]
3 N.T.

North opened his best suit, but unfortunately for him it turned out to be the best lead for declarer. His lead of the 4 of clubs brought out South's queen and West's ace. West cashed the ace of diamonds, went to dummy with the diamond jack and led back the 8 of clubs. South covered with the 10 and West's jack forced North's king. North shifted to a low heart, won by South's ace. But on South's low heart return, West played the six and the suit blocked. The contract could not be defeated after the club opening.

As predictors, you and I are already discredited, but there's worse to follow when the hand is played at the other table. There the bidding goes:

SOUTH

1 [Spade]
2 [Heart]
PASS
4 [Spade]

WEST

DOUBLE
2 N.T.
PASS
PASS

NORTH

REDOUBLE
DOUBLE
3 [Spade]
PASS

EAST

2 [Diamond]
3 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS

Here the teammates of the players who had bid and made game with the East-West cards at the other table were now playing for game with the North-South hands. What's more, as the result of a beautiful play by South, they made it!

West won the first trick with the ace of diamonds. South ruffed the diamond continuation, and led trumps, West winning the second round. South trumped the third diamond and, before daring to draw West's last trump, took a heart finesse to dummy's 10. When this succeeded he drew the rest of the trumps, incidentally exhausting his own, and ran the rest of the heart suit. Now dummy, the declarer, and—fortunately for the success of the contract—West were left with nothing but clubs.

This was where South made the winning play. Figuring West for the jack of clubs as well as the ace, South led the queen of clubs from his hand. If West ducked, declarer would simply lead toward dummy's king. It did no good for West to win the first club lead, however. He now had to lead away from his jack, and declarer captured the last two tricks with his club 10 and dummy's club king.

That "part score" hand of ours turned out to produce game both ways of the table and a swing of 1,220 points!

EXTRA TRICK
Notice the advantage of opening the bidding with a light hand that includes distributional strength and both majors. Much of the swing on this deal can be traced back to South's pass at the first table.

PHOTO

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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