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A waiter's dividend

April 18, 1960
April 18, 1960

Table of Contents
April 18, 1960

Yesterday
Marcel Cerdan
Mink And Men
Carin Cone
Spectacle
Track
Basketball
Trotting
Baseball
Food
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

A waiter's dividend

Sooner or lateralmost every successful player publishes a bridge book. Harry Fishbein is therare exception who postponed his debut as an author for nearly a generationafter he introduced his own convention for coping with preemptive bids.(Briefly: A double is for penalties; the bid asking for partner to take out isthe cheapest possible suit overcall—for example three diamonds over threeclubs.)

This is an article from the April 18, 1960 issue Original Layout

I am not going toreview The Fishbein Convention, published this week; I am going to review theauthor.

It is rare that asexagenarian can stay at the top of his game; yet at 61, "Fishy"captained the U.S. team in the 1959 world championship. Outside of hisconvention, flashy berets are his trade mark; he has more than 200 of them. Heis one of the world's best bridge players, and if you don't believe me, studythis hand:

Both sidesvulnerable South Dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]

EAST

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

SOUTH

2 [Club]
3 [Club]
4 [Diamond]
6 [Club]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

2 [Heart]
3 [Heart]
4 [Heart]
7 [Club]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead:heart king

The bidding isstraightforward enough to require little explanation. South's strong openingtwo-bid of course showed a powerful holding. North, possessed of a six-cardsuit and two aces, was amply justified in his positive response.

South, Fishbein,was quite uninterested in North's hearts, which he did not expect to be solid,but he assumed that North would furnish a trick somewhere, to enable him tobring home a slam in clubs.

Look at it fromNorth's viewpoint. His partner, by leaping to six clubs, had contracted to loseno more than one trick. And North had in his hand the one card which surelySouth must be figuring to lose—the ace of trumps. So North allowed that card tonudge him into the grand slam.

The heart openingpresented Fishbein with an opportunity for an immediate discard. His hand wassolid with the exception of the jack of spades and the 10 of diamonds. Whichwould you discard?

Mathematically,the choice is clear-cut. There is a better chance of dropping the jack ofdiamonds in three leads than of dropping the queen of spades or of winning afinesse for that card. So if you discarded the jack of spades on dummy's ace ofhearts you would apparently be playing the percentages.

However, you wouldlose your grand slam!

Fishbein made itby postponing his decision until he had acquired a little more information andgiven himself that vital extra chance which the shrewd performer constantlyseeks. He didn't play the ace of hearts on the first trick. Instead, he ruffedin his hand to win the trick and immediately cashed the ace and king ofspades.

This play ran theslight risk that an opponent could trump the second round of spades. But if oneopponent held six spades, that fact would increase the danger that diamondswould not break and the grand slam would probably be doomed to failureanyway.

The extra chancepaid a big dividend. East's queen of spades dropped. So, when Fishbein went todummy with the ace of trumps he was in no doubt what to discard on the ace ofhearts. He pitched the 10 of diamonds, and returned to his hand with a diamondlead. After he drew the rest of East's trumps, the grand slam was alaydown.

EXTRA TRICK
If you are reasonably sure you can take the chance, postpone a crucialdecision. This way you can learn better the location of the cards againstyou.

PHOTOILLUSTRATION