Goodby to kid gloves

May 08, 1960

It was with considerable misgiving and a violent attack of butterflies that I went into TV last October. There had been many tries in the past to broadcast bridge, and all had failed. I wasn't sure Championship Bridge would not fail, too, after I read the reviews.

I was criticized sharply for treating the experts with kid gloves. Producer Walter Schwimmer took me aside and observed tactfully, "Charlie, if Mickey Mantle dropped an easy fly ball or Willie Mays stumbled rounding third base the announcer could hardly ignore it."

I took the hint. In the new ABC series I shall try to demonstrate that I am made of sterner stuff. And just to get into the swing, here is a delayed call on a bad TV play. At the time, the error—and it, gulp, was an error—seemed unimportant, but it had a vital effect upon the result of the match.

East was flirting with disaster in reopening the auction with his bid of three hearts. A double would have cost 300 to 500 points, and there was the further chance that the opponents might have pulled themselves together in time to bid and make three no trump.

West led the king of hearts and continued the suit. Dummy's 9 forced East's ace, and declarer ruffed. A diamond was led to the king and dummy's last diamond returned. Declarer made the first of her unfortunate guesses when she played West for a singleton diamond and finessed the jack. A pardonable misguess, I observed, in light of West's take-out double of one diamond.

West took the queen of diamonds and returned the queen of spades. Again declarer guessed wrong and let the lead come up to her ace. After a couple of rounds of trumps, she led her king of clubs, won by West with the ace. West exited with another club, taken by dummy's queen, and eventually the contract hinged upon a finesse against West for the spade jack. When East turned up with that card, the contract was defeated.

Which one of declarer's plays should I have criticized as an error? The answer is: a play she failed to make. There is usually some reason why a player misjudges a hand. But the only possible excuse for overlooking this sure-fire play is that the declarer became uneasy before the camera kibitzer. It is difficult to play your best with a TV camera leering over your shoulder and ready to reveal your errors to millions.

Declarer should not have had to worry about the spade situation. After trumping the second heart lead, she had a sure play for her contract. She should have led the 10 of clubs toward dummy's queen. If West rises with the ace, South makes her king and dummy's queen and gets a spade discard. But West is almost sure to duck the trick. Now the queen wins (as it was certain to do, since West's take-out double marked him with the ace). Next dummy leads the jack of hearts, and declarer discards her king of clubs, allowing West to win the trick with the queen of hearts, but establishing the 10 as a certain winner.

Now, even if declarer misguesses the trump situation and loses a trick to West's queen, the contract cannot be lost. South's losing spade goes on dummy's 10 of hearts and the contract cannot be defeated.

EXTRA TRICK
Few players perform at their best under pressure. When you feel tense, relax for a moment before you play. You will fall into fewer errors.

PHOTO

Neither side vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

[Queen of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

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

EAST

[Jack of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[7 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]
[10 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

EAST

PASS
1 [Heart]
PASS
3 [Heart]
PASS

SOUTH

1 [Diamond]
2 [Diamond]
3 [Diamond]
4 [Diamond]

WEST

DOUBLE
2 [Heart]
PASS
PASS

NORTH

PASS
2 N.T.
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: heart king

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)