This week bridge teams from Argentina, France, Italy and the U.S. will meet in Buenos Aires for the world championship. Four of the Americans—Howard Schenken, Sidney Silodor, Norman Kay and Peter Leventritt have opposed the other teams in international play before. The other two Americans, John Gerber of Houston and Paul Hodge of Abilene, Texas, are newcomers to the international field but are already well known in the bridge world. Gerber is the originator of the four-club convention, widely used today (particularly in no trump bids), that shows aces in the Blackwood manner. Now he and Hodge are working on bidding variations that they hope will act as an antidote to the distinctly artificial flavoring of Italian bidding. I am not sure they will succeed, but the following hand demonstrates a universally accepted bidding convention the Texans used in a practice match before leaving for Argentina.

Gerber and Hodge employed this artificial two-club convention in response to an opening no-trump bid. Their object was to arrive at a reasonable game contract in spades. A perfect defense would have given them considerable trouble, but fortune smiled on the Texas pair and Gerber got away with his enterprising commitment.

Hodge's two-club bid asked his partner to show a four-card major, which Gerber dutifully did. North raised directly to four spades. With his holding, he was quite justified in expecting to produce a game, especially with Gerber at the controls. Hodge's hand had the textbook valuation of 12 points in support of a spade contract.

Dummy's king won the first diamond lead, and the deuce of spades was led. If East had put in the spade jack he would have been well on his way to setting the contract, but with no knowledge of the quality of South's spades it was reasonable for him to play low. After all, West might have held the singleton 10 of spades.

However, it was Gerber who won the trick with that card, and he did not fail to note the fall of West's 9. This was a warning of the adverse distribution. Abandoning the trumps at once, declarer cashed the ace-queen of hearts and the ace of diamonds. Next he trumped a diamond in dummy, cashed the king of hearts, discarding a club, and led dummy's last heart, trumping with the 3 of spades.

At this stage each hand had been reduced to five cards:

NORTH

[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
— [Heart]
— [Diamond]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]

EAST

[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
— [Heart]
— [Diamond]
[Ace of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
— [Heart]
— [Diamond]
[Queen of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]

WEST

— [Spade]
— [Heart]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

Gerber exited from his hand with a club. The defenders could take the two high clubs and one trump trick, but sooner or later East would have to lead away from his king of spades, giving declarer two more trump tricks and the game.

EXTRA TRICK
Watch the spots on the cards played by your opponents. Since defenders must be careful about false-carding lest they fool their partners, their plays are usually trustworthy. And sometimes, as in the hand described here, the size of the card (which can be presumed to have been played honestly) is conclusive evidence of adverse distribution.

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Gerber)

1 N.T.
2 [Spade]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Hodge)

2 [Club]
4 [Spade]

EAST

PASS
PASS

Opening lead: 6 of diamonds

TWO ILLUSTRATIONS
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)