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Pierre Albarran

March 21, 1960
March 21, 1960

Table of Contents
March 21, 1960

Yesterday
Negro Ballplayer
Spectacle
Cow Palace
Richard
Baseball
Basketball
Tip From The Top
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Pierre Albarran

Europe lost her most widely followed bridge authority late last month when Pierre Albarran died in Paris. American tennis fans will recall Albarran as a member of the French Olympic tennis team of 1920 and the Davis Cup team of 1921. Bridge followers will remember him as the star of the French team that won the European Bridge Championship in 1935.

This is an article from the March 21, 1960 issue Original Layout

Nineteen times champion of France, Albarran originated the "canapé" theory (bidding the shorter suit first and longer suit second, so that partner may pass the second bid with a weak hand) which is much followed by Europe's experts, including the world champion Italians. He was the author of several successful bridge books and translator of my own book into French.

Shortly before his death he had submitted to me the manuscript of a book which we were to publish jointly in the U.S. This week's hand is from that book. It is one that we played as partners when we were teammates at Cannes only a few years ago.

Albarran chose this hand to make an important point: watch your opponents carefully. His bidding was reasonable enough and offered him the outside chance that the opposition might decide to make the sacrifice bid of four spades. In his own system the opening bid would have been one spade.

It seemed to Albarran, playing South, that if he trumped a low spade in dummy and gave up one trump, one diamond and one club he could make his contract. But West had chosen to lead into the teeth of South's spades, and East, a somewhat demonstrative type, far from looking displeased had squared himself comfortably in his chair with a tranquil and satisfied look on his face. So Albarran deduced that East could twice overruff dummy—which would place him with the king and 10 of hearts!

So far, so good. But how to make the best use of the deduction? South won the first trick with the spade jack, cashed the ace and led the king, discarding a club from dummy. East ruffed as Albarran expected and back came a club. Albarran rose with his ace, led his losing 8 of spades and once again discarded a club from dummy, the loser-on-loser play which he used to call the Nameless Coup.

South still had a sure diamond loser, but, by having discarded two clubs while surrendering two spades, he was able to trump his low club in dummy. This gave him back a trick he had given away, and also provided the essential entry to dummy with which to take the heart finesse. When that finesse succeeded, Albarran had brought home an "impossible" contract—the kind that always gives the expert the greatest pleasure. For Albarran, who delighted in guessing from their actions what his opponents held, the hand was doubly satisfying. As he often said, "The advantage of a poker face is not confined to poker."

I never had the pleasure of playing with Albarran in his halcyon days, but they must have been something. When we played together at Cannes, Albarran was supposedly past his prime, but he was still the master. He temporarily abandoned his system and conferred upon me the courtesy of playing mine. This didn't ruffle his game in the least. He played with the grace and judgment of a man who had been born into the method and left the gallery fully persuaded that we were a partnership of long standing. The bridge world is the poorer for his loss.

PHOTO

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH

1 [Heart]
4 [Heart]

WEST

1 [Spade]
PASS

NORTH

PASS
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: spade 4