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Rematch in New York

Nov. 07, 1960
Nov. 07, 1960

Table of Contents
Nov. 7, 1960

Cards
At The Top
Pros' Choice
Battle
Horse Racing
Fishing
Hockey
Pro Football
Motor Sport
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

Rematch in New York

Los Angeles is coming East to prove its victory was no fluke

On November 16 and 17, shortly before the start of the Fall National Championships, a team of top New York bridge players will compete against a team from Los Angeles for the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED trophy. The New Yorkers will be out for revenge. Last August in California the Angelenos beat them in an exciting 80-board match. Most insiders considered the result an upset. This time, however, the New Yorkers will be bidding on home ground, the Statler Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.

This is an article from the Nov. 7, 1960 issue Original Layout

The two nonplaying captains—Kelsey Petterson of L.A. and Waldemar von Zedtwitz of New York—have arranged their lineups just as Casey Stengel or Danny Murtaugh might if he were running things. Von Zedtwitz, the loser, will field a revised team: Howard Schenken and George Rapee; Harold Ogust and Boris Koytchou; Ralph Hirschberg and Richard Kahn; John Crawford and B. Jay Becker, plus, as a reserve pair, Tobias Stone and William Root. Petterson, the winner, is standing pat. When the spectators assemble before the Bridge-O-Rama electric playing board at the Hilton they will be watching virtually the same Western team that won in August in L.A.

Petterson is making one change. Morris Portugal, who with his wife won the Life Master Pairs Championship, will replace either William Hanna or Meyer Schleifer, one of whom may find it impossible to get to New York. The others on the Los Angeles team will again be Lew Mathe, Ivan Erdos, Ira Rubin, Oliver Adams, Harold Guiver and Edwin Kantar. Warren Blank and Mike Shuman have been named as reserves.

It doesn't make the nonplaying captain's task any easier to realize that in choosing eight players he is eliminating another dozen capable of the kind of play that could win a match. For example, here is a hand defended by former New Yorker Milton Moss and former Chicagoan Art Baron, members of the 19-man Los Angeles squad from which Petterson had to make his choice.

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH

PASS
2 [Diamond]
3 N.T.

WEST
(Moss)

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH

1 [Club]
2 [Diamond]
PASS

EAST
(Baron)

PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: 5 of clubs

Certain card combinations are played so automatically that the good player can virtually make the book play in his sleep. For example, with East's club holding, the correct card to play on the first trick is the jack; the return lead is the queen. But in this case, neither East, Baron, nor Moss, his partner, was asleep.

Declarer ducked the jack of clubs, playing the 9, and East stopped to sort out all the facts which the bidding and the play of the first four cards had put at his command. With the 3 and 4 of clubs in plain sight, East knew from his partner's lead of the 5 that declarer had begun with three cards in the suit. If he had the king, he would not dare duck the first club and have the continuation come through, so South was marked with the ace. From the bidding and the cards in his hand and dummy, it was almost a certainty that West could not have an outside entry. Thus, if declarer held up his ace until the third club lead, the suit would be dead and so would the defenders unless—and this was the big word—unless West could be made to win the second club and shift to spades before East's diamond ace was knocked out.

So, instead of making the automatic return of the queen of clubs, Baron returned the 4. South ducked again as expected, and now it was West's turn to reason. South could not have the queen of clubs or he would have won the first trick with that card. Neither could East have four clubs, because South was marked as still holding up the ace. Then why hadn't East returned the queen? Obviously, it was to direct the defense to a shift that would surely set the contract.

One look at dummy was enough to show what that suit must be, so Moss won the king of clubs and shifted to a spade. Dummy's queen was covered by East's king. With the spade ace' knocked out, the defenders were sure to win three spades and a diamond in addition to the two clubs already taken. Declarer went down two.

Of course, Moss could have achieved the same result if East had led the queen of clubs, declarer had ducked and he had overtaken with the king in order to shift to a spade. And perhaps Moss would have done so—but Baron made it easy for his partner to find the winning play.

New York's nonplaying captain, Von Zedtwitz, had a problem complicated by an even greater embarrassment of riches. It is only fair to point out that there would have been changes in the New York team if it had taken the first challenge match. Indeed, had New York won in Los Angeles, it is quite possible that an entirely different eight would have been selected—to demonstrate to the bridge world that New York had not only the best team but the two best.

But, when his first selection failed to win, Von Zedtwitz had to find the strongest possible lineup to meet the aggressive game of the Angelenos.

No one could fault Von Zedtwitz for his team selection or his captain's work in the first match. This time, he has done another creditable job by selecting a team specially designed to have the qualities most likely to succeed against Los Angeles.

It makes sense that, instead of dipping into his star-loaded squad of more than two dozen New Yorkers and coming up with an entirely new team, he has built his new lineup around the pair that gave such a consistent performance last time out, Howard Schenken and George Rapee. He has added three all-star partnerships designed to be aggressive while, at the same time, least likely to be accident-prone. Partnerships not likely to incur disasters are of utmost importance.

Numerous hands in the first match provided confirmation for the adage that team matches are not won, they are lost. This one, from the first session in which Los Angeles piled up a 21 International Match Point lead, was a blow to Ivan Erdos—who otherwise played an important part in his team's victory.

Neither side vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

— [Spade]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[10 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]

WEST

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

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
— [Diamond]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

EAST

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

EAST
(Erdos)

1 [Diamond]
PASS

SOUTH
(Crawford)

4 [Spade]
PASS

WEST
(Rubin)

DBL.

NORTH
(Stone)

PASS

Rubin opened a diamond. North's jack forced East's ace and declarer ruffed. Crawford led the king of spades hoping to drop a singleton queen or jack in East's hand, but East's singleton was the ace. Now all Erdos had to do was cash the ace of clubs and West's spade honors would set the hand. Instead, he underled the ace. South won with the king, overtook his king of hearts with dummy's ace and discarded clubs on the queen of hearts and the king and queen of diamonds. Thereafter, he lost two more trump tricks to West's queen and jack but made his contract.

The four-spade contract was doubled in the closed room, but Los Angeles actually gained on this deal.

There, West led the diamond and the jack forced East's ace. Schleifer ruffed and led the spade 10. Knowing that Schleifer was good enough to lead the 10 from ace-king-10, West didn't dare withhold his jack. He covered, and East overtook, perforce. Now East made the same play of underleading the ace of clubs—with the better reason that, once the jack of spades had been played by West, winning two club tricks was the only hope of setting the hand. But South won the trick, discarded his three remaining clubs on dummy's good cards, and lost only one more trick to West's queen of spades, making an overtrick. That added another 2 IMPs to L.A.'s lead.

One more hand—the last one played in the August meeting of the two cities—will emphasize still another factor in any match between two powerful teams.

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[4 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]

EAST

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

At both tables, South played three no trump. Against the L.A. declarer Schenken led the 2 of spades. Dummy's queen won the trick, and Rapee signaled with the jack.

Mathe led dummy's diamond 10 and passed it. West took the jack, cashed the spade ace and conceded another trick to South's king. Now if declarer had trusted to miraculous luck, he could have made his contract by finding the ace of hearts with West, and playing for a club split or a diamond finesse. Mathe, knowing his team was ahead, refused to risk a big set. He cashed the diamond ace and when the king did not drop, he surrendered another diamond. The spade 10 and heart ace set the contract.

Against Stone, West opened the 2 of hearts. Dummy ducked and East took the queen. On the heart return, West made the ace and conceded a trick to dummy's king. Dummy played a low diamond, East played small, declarer finessed the queen. Since cashing the entire diamond suit had depended on finding East with king-jack alone, that left only one chance.

South cashed his top clubs and led a spade. The ace was right; the queen was an entry; the jack of clubs fell under dummy's king and nine tricks were assured. The gain on this deal brought New York's rally to an uninterrupted run of 25 IMPs. But Los Angeles retained 9 IMPs of its lead.

The other ingredient in winning a match between two strong teams is, as you see, a little bit of luck. When the bridge tale of two cities is retold this month, it may have a different ending. But as a strictly neutral observer, I hope that luck will be on the side of the most skillful team.

PHOTORICHARD KAHN JOINED NEW YORK TEAMILLUSTRATIONPHOTOMORRIS PORTUGAL IS NEW COAST PLAYER