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HEAVY THOUGHT AND AGONY

May 01, 1961
May 01, 1961

Table of Contents
May 1, 1961

Championship Bridge
Derby Preview
The New Boss
Harness Racing
Baseball
Rowing
Boating
Boxing
Track
Baseball's Week
Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

HEAVY THOUGHT AND AGONY

When the four top bridge teams of the world met in Buenos Aires, the strain was awful—but solid, oldtime tactics ultimately brought victory for the once-extravagant Italian players

People who saymodern life is characterized by quiet desperation must have been watching abridge tournament. The pressures that build up on the players seem minorcompared with the kickoff of a Rose Bowl game or the opening bell of achampionship fight. But the pressures go on for days and toward the end thefaces of everyone-the players, the captains, the judges and commentators and,sometimes, even the spectators—are contorted with the strain of wary dueling. Amissed signal, an overlooked implication, a forgotten minor card can meandefeat and, what is undoubtedly worse for all bridge players, a feeling ofmental inadequacy.

This is an article from the May 1, 1961 issue Original Layout

Last Sunday inBuenos Aires, the four best bridge teams in the world played through the ninthand final day of the world bridge championship, and the tired, drawn faces ofthe players were predictably anguished. Photogenic Roger Trézel of the worldchampionship French team, smiled, puffed, wheezed and nervously jammed aclenched fist into an expressively unbelieving face. Massimo D'Alelio of Italysank a thoughtful, weary head into a fork of fingers, and pondered, even as histeammate Walter Avarelli quenched a dry throat with demitasse after demitasseof Argentine coffee. It was the same wherever you looked: Sidney Silodor of theU.S. team sighing in his quiet, sensitive way; Alejandro Castro, theArgentine's captain, puckering his lips, then accepting with stoicism the lossthat he had hoped would be a victory. But in the end it was the Italians whowon, the same marvelous Italians who have now carried off the worldchampionship in four of the last five years.

In the past theItalian team's victory has been variously attributed to new, intricate systemsof bidding, to a strong, unyielding captain who substituted fresh players whenhe thought his first stringers were tiring, or to a consistency of play that noother team could match. One year, scandalously, it was even intimated that theItalians had a weakness for taking certain unfair advantages of an admittedlyvulnerable policing system. In Buenos Aires none of these accusations could bemade. The Italians won because they played solid, conservative bridge. Wherethey had once resorted to exotic bidding systems, they tended toward naturalbidding this year and they waited for other teams to make mistakes.

The measure oftheir success was their record. They swept all three matches to take theBermuda Cup, emblematic of the world title, away from France after a short stayof a year. The margins by which they won were not overwhelming—139International Match Points against Argentina, 110 against France and 119against the U.S.—but they pointed to the solidity of Italian play. The Americanteam of Silodor, Howard Schenken, Peter Leventritt, Norman Kay, Paul Hodge andJohn Gerber played extremely well and came in second, ahead of France andlast-place Argentina.

The one newItalian player, Benito Garozzo, took the place of Guglielmo Siniscalco, anengineer who had been called off on a building project. Garozzo played steadilyand well. The rest of the team included—in addition to D'Alelio andAvarelli—Giorgio Belladonna, Eugenio Chiaradia and Pietro Forquet. Again, theywere a well-disciplined team, they bid only what was in the cards and, as theydemonstrated in a critical and somewhat extraordinary hand played againstFrance on the next to the last day of the tournament, they proved that theywere a team which could afford to wait (see first hand).

Claude Deruy, alawyer from Lille, along with his teammate Jose LeDentu, a Parisian lawyer, wasone of the two new stars discovered at Buenos Aires. They took the places ofGérard Bourchtoff and Claude Delmouly who, for undisclosed reasons, weresuspended from international play by the French team for a year. Unfortunatelyfor Deruy, on this hand he was able to take only three tricks. In reading thebidding, it is easy to see how the French got into so much trouble and easy tosee how the Italians managed to stay out. Garozzo's double was the warning. Thepass by Pierre Ghestem, a French businessman and remarkably successful amateurplayer, was a definite signal of weakness and his redouble, after Garozzo'ssecond double, was a desperate cry to his partner to, for heaven's sake, get usout. Deruy's two diamonds was, under the circumstances, a reasonable reply, butit was no save. At the other table the hand was passed out. In justice to theFrench it must be remembered that in this type of tournament, in which eachteam must meet each of the others, there is apt to be a dogfight for plusscores. It is obvious that when Ghestem started the bidding he knew that he wastaking a chance.

Second badguess

West's openinglead was the 2 of diamonds, which East took with his king after declarer hadplayed low from dummy. East then led back a low diamond, which South took inhis own hand with the queen. It is here that he made the second of two badguesses on the deal. He led the singleton 4 of spades and played his king indummy. East took the king with his ace. Had declarer played the jack of spadesinstead, he would have forced East's ace and could have made his king good,saving one trick. But in bridge when things are bad they are often very, verybad. On this hand the French went down 1,400 points. By a better guess theycould have cut their loss to 1,100 points. But in the IMP method of scoring thedifference between losing 1,100 points and losing 1,400 is only 2 IMPs. TheFrench would have been much better off, of course, in passing the handentirely, as the more conservative Italians did.

One of the mostexciting boards at Buenos Aires was the one, which, with the fantasticallycomplex relay system played by one French pair, got everyone confused (seesecond hand). This included Howard Schenken, whose penalty double was based ona misapprehension but turned out quite profitably for the U.S.

North's first fivebids were artificial—with the result that South had bid diamonds twice beforeNorth ever mentioned his seven-card suit. The one-spade bid—a bid of thenext-higher rank—was a "relay," asking partner for more informationabout the strength of his hand. South's no-trump rebid showed a minimum. Twoclubs—again the next-higher bid—was another relay request for furtherclarification of South's hand. South thereupon showed his four-card spade suit.Once again North relayed with two no trump, and South now showed his threecards in diamonds. One more relay by North, three hearts, got a further minimumresponse from South. North's four-club bid now asked for aces, South'sfour-diamond answer denied any aces at all, whereupon North signed off at fivediamonds. Schenken felt that the hand would be a misfit for the opponents, sohe doubled, and North promptly redoubled.

North's ace wonthe spade opening and, after taking the ace of diamonds, declarer promptlyreturned a spade. West won and, having observed East's high-low discard, he leda third round of spades. North discarded a club and East ruffed, returning thejack of diamonds. Dummy won with the queen and led the 9 of clubs. IfLeventritt (East) had ducked, the redoubled contract could have been made. But,after a brief study of the hand, during which the audience held its collectivebreath, he went up with the ace of clubs and the contract went down atrick.

In the other roomNorth opened the bidding with one diamond after two passes. The final contractof five diamonds was played by North, and East opened a trump. Declarer wonwith dummy's king to lead the king of hearts, discarding a spade from his hand.Another trump lead would have wrecked the hand, but East hastened to shift tospades. North won with the ace and led a club. Later he ruffed one club indummy, discarded another on the queen of hearts and made five-odd for a scoreof 400 points and a gross total of 600 on the combined result worth 12IMPs.

Observers atBuenos Aires were not sure whether Giorgio Belladonna was a better player thanPietro Forquet of Italy but none ever doubted that Belladonna was the bolder ofthe two. He proved it in the following deal against France (see thirdhand).

Belladonna's fourno-trump bid was a form of take-out double asking partner to choose a suit. Hewas fortunate to find Avarelli with the balance of power, while Ghestem hadvery little. As it turned out, one of the most important cards in South's handwas the 8 of hearts.

East, reasoningthat another spade lead ruffed by North might safeguard one or more trumptricks for the defense, played the 9 on the opening spade lead. But Bacherichshifted to the king of clubs—which neither helped nor harmed declarer'schances. The club ace won the trick and the heart ace dropped West's king. Onthe next heart lead, East played the 7 and South successfully finessed the 8.The jack of hearts forced East's queen and, when East returned a club, Southwon with the queen to draw East's last trump with the heart 10. Thereafter,declarer easily won the balance of the tricks.

In the other roomD'Alelio also opened with four spades on the West hand. Trézel of France,however, followed the conservative course (usually correct in a team game) anddid not bid four no trump. He opened the ace of diamonds and continued thesuit. Declarer ruffed and then lost a trick to the ace of hearts. Later on hewas able to enter dummy with a trump and discard one club on dummy's heartqueen. But he still had to surrender two club tricks and was down one. His lossof 100 points, deducted from the 650 which Italy won as North-South at theother table, gained 550, or 11 IMPs for the Italians.

FIRST HAND

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Deruy)

PASS
PASS
1 N.T.
2 [Diamond]
PASS

WEST
(Garozzo)

PASS
DBL.
DBL.
DBL.

NORTH
(Ghestem)

1 [Spade]
PASS
REDBL.
PASS

EAST
(Forquet)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: 2 of diamonds

SECOND HAND

East-West vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[8 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[10 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

SOUTH

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

EAST

[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

SOUTH
(Bacherich)

1 [Heart]
1 N.T.
2 [Spade]
3 [Diamond]
3 N.T.
4 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS

WEST
(Schenken)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
DBL.
PASS

NORTH
(Ghestem)

1 [Spade]
2 [Club]
2 N.T.
3 [Heart]
4 [Club]
5 [Diamond]
REDBL.

EAST
(Leventritt)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: king of spades

THIRD HAND

Both sides vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

WEST
(Bacherich)

4 [Spade]
PASS

NORTH
(Belladonna)

4 N.T.
PASS

EAST
(Ghestem)

PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Avarelli)

5 [Heart]

Opening lead: ace of spades

PHOTOFRANCISCO VERAITALIAN MASTER MASSIMO D'ALELIO, MEMBER OF THREE OTHER WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS, BROODS OVER DIFFICULT HANDPHOTOFRANCISCO VERAFRANCE'S BRILLIANT ROGER TREZEL, EUROPEAN AND WORLD CHAMPION IN 1955, WINCES AS TITLE PLAY GOES AGAINST HIS TEAMTHREE ILLUSTRATIONS