The man who likes to lose

October 23, 1960

Alex Dreier, my good friend with whom I share 11 duties in the commentators' booth during my TV show, is a man who likes to lose—but not at the bridge table. Dreier is a huge man who not long ago weighed well over 300 pounds. Currently he likes to lose weight. He has lost 80 pounds but not a bit of the good nature that makes it such a pleasure to work with him.

On Championship Bridge, which on October 16 began another season of Sunday afternoon telecasts over ABC, Dreier represents the average player. The questions he asks on the show sometimes make him seem less than the adept player he is. Do not be deceived. Here is one of the hands he played in a warmup game with the stars a few minutes before they went on camera.

The bidding was a bit optimistic, which is not unusual in TV bridge or in any game where a short time of play often encourages bidders to shoot for good scores on every hand. Playing South, Dreier bid the diamond suit after rebidding the clubs, hoping that North might be encouraged to try three no trump. But, even after North had raised diamonds, South returned to his seven-card club suit. But North's preference was too decided to leave the club bid in, despite South's having made it obvious that there was a great disparity in the length of the two suits. Dreier accepted his partner's final judgment, and then proceeded to vindicate it.

After winning the first trick with the ace of spades, West continued the suit on the theory that it would do him less harm than any other. Dreier won with the spade king and led the 2 of diamonds. West played the 7—a troublesome false card—and dummy's 8 was won by East's 10. East returned the 3 of hearts, and South, having already lost the only two tricks he could afford, trumped this trick, cashed the ace of clubs and trumped a low club with dummy's diamond 6.

Now Dreier had to play so that he would not lose another trump trick. In view of the fall of the 7 from West on the first lead of the suit, it was tempting to play the queen through, hoping that East held the king-4 and West the blank jack. If that were the case and East covered the diamond queen with the king and the jack dropped, dummy's 9 would be high.

The trouble with this line of play was that in order to draw East's supposed remaining diamond, declarer would have to play another round of trumps. This would leave the lead in dummy and South would have no way to get back to his hand. Thus there was really only one way the diamonds could lie that would let the five-diamond contract be made. Dreier accordingly led a low diamond, East played the king and Dreier's faith was justified. He won the trick with the ace and abandoned trumps, leading out good clubs. Whenever West chose to ruff, dummy could overruff, and South's hand remained with the 5 of trumps—the only one outstanding—as an entry to the good clubs.

EXTRA TRICK
When there is only one possible distribution that will permit you to make your contract, play the hand as if that distribution existed. You will be surprised how often the cards will fall into line for you.

ILLUSTRATION

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[King of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

EAST

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

SOUTH

1 [Club]
2 [Club]
3 [Diamond]
5 [Club]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

1 [Heart]
2 [Heart]
4 [Diamond]
5 [Diamond]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: ace of spades

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)