A gallery of new stars

Bright newcomers join U.S. veterans in world title play
April 11, 1960

Losing sides always squawk, and since the U.S. has lost to Europe's champions in contract bridge's world title play for the past five years, the squawks on this side of the Atlantic have been loud, varied and long—five years long, to be exact.

We picked the wrong team; our players were too old; they were too young; we played the wrong system; we took our opposition too lightly; we should have fixed partnerships instead of pairing versatile players on a catch-as-catch-can basis; some of our players broke training.

None of these complaints arose while U.S. teams were winning the first four world championships. They may not again after the coming World Bridge Olympiad, which begins on April 23 in the exhibition building of the Society for Promoting Fine Arts in Turin, Italy.

For the first time the competition will involve all the countries of the world that wish to enter. The U.S. again meets its most familiar rival, Italy's formidable three-time world champions: Walter Avarelli, Giorgio Belladonna, Eugenio Chiaradia, Pietro Forquet and Guglielmo Siniscalco, with Giancarlo Manca replacing Massimo D'Alelio of last year's team. Twenty-seven other countries will compete in this contest sponsored by the World Bridge Federation, of which I happen to be a founder.

And the U.S. will be meeting them, not with a single team, but with four: two automatic selections—the winners of the 1959 Vanderbilt and the Spingold knockout team championship; the other two made up of three pairs each, as selected by a committee of past presidents of the American Contract Bridge League. (There will also be a women's team, which will play a round-robin for the women's championship.)

Why four teams? The U.S. is entitled to them and more under World Federation rules, which state that each member league may enter one team for every 15,000 members. There are 100,000 persons in the American Contract Bridge League.

The veteran teams are substantially those that battled it out in the finals of the 1959 Vanderbilt—the Becker team, which won, and my own group, whom they defeated in a hard-fought match. The winners' lineup was virtually the same that lost to Italy at Lake Como in 1958: B. J. Becker, George Rapee, Sidney Silodor, John R. Crawford and Tobias Stone. The only change is the addition of Norman Kay of Merchantville, N.J., replacing Alvin Roth of Washington, D.C.

Three of the members of my team also have represented the U.S. and were defeated by Italy in New York in 1957: Helen Sobel, Harold Ogust and myself. We have been reinforced by the addition of Howard Schenken and a strong California pair, Lew Mathe of Los Angeles and Paul Allinger of Alameda.

Since the veterans of the U.S. teams are as familiar to my readers as they are to international play, I will concentrate here on the younger performers. Paul Allinger is the youngest. He is far from a newcomer to important tournaments, however, numbering among his achievements a victory in the knockout team championship in 1958. Just to reassure those who may have heard little of him, here's a hand he played recently against Lew Mathe, who reported it to me.

The final contract was entirely reasonable, but the bad break in diamonds made it extremely difficult to fulfill.

However, Allinger was equal to the occasion. He played low from dummy on the opening spade lead and won East's king with the ace. The low spade lead made it almost sure that Mathe (West) held the spade jack, so until East gained the lead, the suit could not be continued without giving declarer a second stopper via dummy's spade 10. But if declarer were to duck a diamond—the normal play to establish the diamond suit—it would mean giving East the lead too soon. (Allinger had counted on winning four diamonds, two spades, two hearts and one club—and knew he would have to bring in a club trick before the spade suit was established against him.)

His first play, therefore, was a low diamond to dummy's ace, followed by a club to his king. Mathe played the 4 without a moment's hesitation. Now, with the needed club trick in the bag, South turned back to the diamond suit. But when he led the king, West showed out, discarding a small heart.

Obviously, the diamond suit would not provide the essential tricks, so Allinger led a heart to dummy's king and continued the suit, finessing the jack and losing to West's queen. Unable to continue the spades profitably, West exited with a heart.

Allinger took his two good hearts, and Mathe (West), who could not afford to throw the jack of clubs, let go a spade on the last heart. From Mathe's selection of discards, Allinger inferred that it was his left-hand opponent who had the burden of protecting the club suit. He therefore cashed the spade queen and got out with his last spade, putting West in. West cashed another spade trick, on which South threw his last diamond. At the end West had to lead from his ace-jack of clubs, and declarer's queen of clubs furnished his ninth trick, closing a brilliant duel between the two players who will shortly be playing as partners.

The winners of the Spingold Trophy for the M aster Team championship for 1959, who automatically qualified to play for the U.S. in the Olympiad, include only two veterans, Sam Stay-man and Oswald Jacoby. The other four, Morton Rubinow, Vic Mitchell, Bill Grieve and Ira Rubin, are comparative newcomers. None plays an especially exotic system. But judge their skill for yourself.

Here is a hand played by Rubinow, paired with Vic Mitchell in a recent practice team-of-four match.

After opening the king of clubs, West shifted to the deuce of diamonds. It was tempting for declarer to take the free finesse and let this lead come up to his hand, assuring that the diamond queen would be picked up. But Rubinow deduced that the diamond shift was a singleton and that the safe way of playing the diamond suit was the dangerous way to play the hand. Instead of letting the lead run to his hand, therefore, he went up with dummy's ace of diamonds to lead the queen of clubs and discard the heart 2. This play insured that West could not immediately put his partner in with a heart to get the diamond ruff needed to set the contract.

On winning the club, West played a heart. South trumped, cashed the ace of spades and led the 8. When West took his king, South ruffed the next heart with an honor, got to dummy with the spade 9 and led the diamond 10 for a winning finesse against East's queen.

Here is a hand that showed the other young pair, Bill Grieve and Ira Rubin, in action. They won the Men's Pairs event in the 1958 Summer Nationals. The bidding was complex but the play was simple. Or was it?

East's no trump was "unusual"—having passed originally, he wanted partner to choose between the red suits.

West opened a heart, and when the dummy was spread it was clear to declarer that he would have to bring in the spade suit without loss in order to take care of his losing diamonds. When East followed to two rounds of trumps, Grieve decided that East's unusual no trump must include five cards in each of the red suits and a singleton spade. After cashing the spade ace, Grieve put through the 10. West ducked—it would have availed him nothing to cover; South would get back to his hand and finesse against the 9—but South let the 10 ride and the grand slam was home.

Our youngest team is comprised of two youthful pairs and one veteran pair—the latter consisting of Don Oakie, San Francisco and Meyer Schleifer, Los Angeles. The "youths" are Harmon, Stakgold, Hanna and Lazard, and of these six players, only Schleifer and Hanna have never had previous experience in international contests.

Leonard Harmon of New York and Ivar Stakgold, formerly of Washington, D.C. and recently moved to Evanston, Ill., where he is a professor of engineering science at Northwestern University, played for the U.S. in 1959; as did Sidney Lazard of New Orleans, whose partner this year is William Hanna of Los Angeles. Oakie was a member of the U.S. team which defeated France for the Bermuda Bowl, emblematic of the world title, in Monte Carlo in 1954.

Since Harmon and Stakgold are already well known to many of my readers, I will go on to the Lazard-Hanna partnership. These young men use a rather dashing style, with powder-puff opening bids, daring penalty doubles and spectacular bidding sequences that would make them the favorite of the gallery were it not for their excruciatingly slow play. They sometimes drive their opponents, as well as their kibitzers, mad. But what matter? In international, or any other play, it isn't how you do it. It is what you do—and how well!

So much for the American youth movement. To return to the entry list for the forthcoming Olympiad, it is truly worldwide. One team comes all the way from Australia. Seven are from Asia and Africa. The four teams from South America include Argentina's champions of that continent in 1958 and 1959, who competed in the last two world championship matches. In addition to four teams from the U.S., North America is also represented by a strong and impressive entry from Canada.

But the biggest entry comes from Europe. Her 16 teams representing 15 countries (Sweden is sending two teams) include an entry from behind the Iron Curtain, Poland. Also included are the three nations, which, with the U.S., are accorded the best chance: the Italians, of course, the British and the French, who were second in the recent European championships. France will be represented this time by Gérard Bourchtoff-Claude Delmouly and by four members of France's 1956 World Champions, Pierre Ghestem-René Bacherich and Pierre Ja√Øs-Roger Trézel.

The English select their team by holding trials and permitting the winning four to advise on the selection of another pair. The first trials ended in a tie, but the runoff was easily won by England's perennial strong pair, Boris Schapiro and Terence Reese, playing with Nico Gardener and Albert Rose. To complete their team, they chose Ralph Swimer and Jeremy Flint. Unlike most other teams, which play as three set pairs, the English selection puts Swimer in to pair with Rose or Gardener and Flint to pair with Reese or Schapiro.

You will be hearing about these people and many more experts at Turin. This is the tournament which without doubt will bring together the greatest number of worldwide experts in the history of contract bridge.

PHOTOVETERAN EXPERT GOREN STUDIES A HAND PHOTOMEYER SCHLEIFER IS NEW TO WORLD PLAY

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Allinger)

1 [Club]
2 N.T.
PASS

WEST
(Mathe)

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

1 [Diamond]
3 N.T.

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: spade 3

Both sides vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

[9 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[Queen of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

— [Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[10 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

WEST

1 [Club]
DBL.

NORTH
(Mitchell)

PASS
PASS

EAST

1 [Heart]
PASS

SOUTH
(Rubinow)

4 [Spade]
PASS

Opening lead: club king

Both sides vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

EAST

PASS
1 N.T.
PASS
PASS
PASS
DBL.
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Grieve)

1 [Club]
DBL.
3 [Diamond]
4 N.T.
5 N.T.
PASS
7 [Club]

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Rubin)

1 [Spade]
3 [Club]
3 [Spade]
5 [Club]
6 [Heart]
REDBL.
PASS

Opening lead: heart jack

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)