Turnabout at Summer Nationals

August 20, 1961

The old familiar faces were much in evidence at the American Contract Bridge League's Summer National Championships but at the tournament's end, refreshingly enough, most of the victors were new.

The turnabout began in the first major event decided, the Mixed Team Championships. It was won by ex-Quiz Kid Dickie Freeman (as a youngster, he was actually on that popular radio program of the 40s), playing with Mrs. Louise Robinson of Hendersonville, N.C. and Gloria Turner and Emanuel Hochfeld of Chicago.

Later, New York Diamond Merchant Philip Feldesman teamed with Marshall Miles, an attorney from San Bernardino, Calif., to win the Life Masters pair event. When Feldesman took the Men's Pairs too, it was generally conceded he would win the trophy for the best individual performance in the tournament. That honor, as Miles soon demonstrated, was bestowed prematurely.

Competing on a team captained by Edwin Kantar of Los Angeles and including only two other players, William Root of New York and Andy Gabrilovitch of Washington, D.C., Miles won the more important Masters Knockout Teams championship. The Kantar team went through the 11 rounds of play—396 hands—using only four members. For his play, Miles was named the outstanding performer in the Summer Nationals.

The team championship might have come to an earlier—if not different—conclusion had my own team not pinned a first defeat in the quarterfinal round on Johnny Crawford's hitherto all-winning combination. Our chances looked bleak when, after a disastrous start, we trailed by 33-3 at the end of the first nine hands. Then came hand No. 10 (see right), which in the exhibition room was played by Peter Leventritt and Howard Schenken of my own team.

A double at the four level gives partner a choice of bidding or, if he does not have good game-going chances or length in the other major, of remaining silent. Crawford, as West, might have responded with four no trump to ask Rapee to take his choice of the minors. Had he done this, and had East responded with five diamonds, against the normal opening of the king of hearts Crawford and Rapee might have escaped with a set of only one trick, or at most two.

Leventritt took dummy's ace of spades and led the 9 of clubs. East went up with the ace and attempted to collect the king of diamonds before giving his partner a spade ruff. The contract could not have been defeated, but this maneuver cost an overtrick. South trumped the diamond, discarded one of dummy's spades on the king of clubs and conceded a spade trick. Declarer made the rest of the tricks with a crossruff for a score of 990.

In the other room, where my teammates Harold Ogust and Boris Koytchou were East-West, East bid four spades instead of doubling the four-heart bid. South bid five hearts, was doubled, got the spade opening and went down a trick, adding another 200 points to our team's plus, for a comeback of 16 International Match Points. This put us back into the match, which we eventually won by 17 IMPs, 94-77. It caused a three-team round-robin final in which our two teams were joined by the Kantar group. In that final we were decisively defeated by both the Kantar and Crawford teams and wound up third.

That left the title decision hanging on the result of the Crawford-Kantar match. With the lead changing sides as fast as Peter Lorre does to save his neck, the Kantars won out by 11 IMPs, 92-81, but it was Miles who stood out.

ILLUSTRATION

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Leventritt)

1 [Heart]
PASS

WEST
(Crawford)

PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Schenken)

4 [Heart]
PASS

EAST
(Rapee)

DBL

Opening lead: spade 7

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)