License to kibitz

November 30, 1959

My customary design for living provides few opportunities to engage in my favorite pastime, kibitzing. In my Sunday afternoon television shows however, not only am I cast as a kibitzer, but by the very nature of things I am expected to comment on every hand instead of maintaining a dignified and, I might add, difficult silence.

When the series was filmed I had the fun of watching far more hands than are shown on your TV screen. There were practice matches before the camera started rolling. There were hands played to wile away the time when the electricians, stagehands and cameramen were performing essential technical chores. And, of course, there were the hands played after the show.

I wish that some of the hands I watched off camera had been part of the filmed matches. This one, for example, played by Kay Rhodes with Margaret Wagar, the partners who set an alltime record by winning four straight National Women's Pair Championships.

Sitting behind Kay in the South position, I felt that she held herself well in check during the auction. Margaret Wagar, however, had suddenly burst into a grand-slam bid with the North hand, despite a spade holding that made such an undertaking extremely hazardous. I must agree, however, that Margaret's optimism had some points to commend it. When South jumped in diamonds and then showed club support North hoped that her partner's holding included no more than one spade. If she had two spades there was still the finesse to try if the club suit failed to provide a discard.

Finally there was Margaret's unanswerable argument: "I'm practicing for that $500 grand-slam bonus on TV."

West opened the queen of hearts, and when dummy was put down I, as kibitzer, figured out my line of play. My idea was to win the heart, come off dummy with a trump, ruff a low heart with a high diamond in North's hand and continue trumps until the opponents had no more. Next, I would cash three top clubs, ending with the queen in South's hand. If the club suit did not split, I would take the spade finesse.

As you will see, I would have been defeated. The clubs didn't split and the spade king was offside. But Kay made the hand without the slightest difficulty.

She came to her hand with a trump and ruffed a heart in dummy; then came back with a trump and drew another round to exhaust West. Next she led the jack of spades.

When West failed to produce the king, Kay went up with dummy's ace, cashed the ace of clubs and came back to her hand with the queen of clubs. Next, she cashed her two good trumps and the king of hearts, discarding the remainder of dummy's spades.

East was hooked. He could see that it would be fatal to discard a club, so he let go the king of spades and hoped that partner would hold the ten-spot. But Kay produced that card to win the 12th trick and dummy's high club won the 13th and grand slam.

After paying my sincere compliments, I asked why Kay had chosen her complex line of play instead of the comparatively simple one which seemed to offer just about the same chance of success.

"Anybody can take a finesse," Kay answered honestly. "But just think how good it would have looked on the air to make a grand slam via a Vienna Coup."

EXTRA TRICK
The first mention of the fourth suit to be bid by a partnership (in this case, North's heart bid) can usually be read as forcing—even when made at the game level. With a real heart suit North would have bid it over two diamonds, instead of her bid of three clubs.

PHOTO

Both sides vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

NORTH

1 [Spade]
3 [Club]
4 [Heart]
7 [Diamond]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

2 [Diamond]
4 [Diamond]
5 [Club]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: heart queen

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)