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The general sits north

Sept. 18, 1961
Sept. 18, 1961

Table of Contents
Sept. 18, 1961

Point Of Fact
Thoroughbred Racing
College Football 1961
Conzelman
Baseball's Week
Preseason Football's Week
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back
Departments

The general sits north

When General Alfred M. Gruenther first gained prominence as General Eisenhower's chief of staff in World War II, he already had an international reputation as a contract bridge personality. During the '30s, for example, when he was only a lieutenant, he was the referee of the Sidney Lenz-Eli Culbertson "Battle of the Century," which was reported on the front pages of American newspapers for weeks. I suppose it was to be expected, therefore, that when he finished second recently in the Charity Pairs, the opening event at the American Contract Bridge League's summer national championships in Washington, he was featured in newspaper headlines over the winners, Louis Kelner of New York and Robert Freedman of Buffalo; Even his partner, Charles Solomon of Philadelphia, got obscure billing.

This is an article from the Sept. 18, 1961 issue Original Layout

Gruenther, of course, is an excellent player, both vigorous and cautious, as you can see from this hand that he played with Solomon:

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Solomon)

1 [Spade]
3 [Heart]
4 [Diamond]
5 [Diamond]
PASS

WEST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(General Gruenther)

3 [Diamond]
3 [Spade]
5 [Club]
6 [Diamond]

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: ace of hearts

Solomon, sitting South, opened with one spade, and the general, with slam definitely in the offing, followed with a jump-shift to three diamonds. Solomon had a choice of raising the diamonds or showing his other major suit, hearts. He bid hearts, and Gruenther returned to three spades, presumably to fix that suit as the eventual trump. Solomon then showed his diamond support, and the general, with big things in view, cue-bid the ace of clubs. Solomon returned to diamonds, and General Gruenther went to six.

This was a happy choice, for at spades declarer would have to lose to the queen of trumps as well as the ace of hearts. Gruenther reasoned, soundly, that a diamond contract would be possible, since the bidding indicated that his partner had a singleton club. That proved to be the case. The general won the trump shift, drew two more rounds of trumps, cashed the two top spades, discarded the deuce and 7 of spades on his clubs, and then ruffed a spade with dummy's last trump. He still had re-entry to his two good spades.

A satisfactory loss

General Gruenther and Solomon finished the tournament with a fine second-place score of 215½, good enough ordinarily to win almost any match. But in a way they were fortunate to have lost by 15 points to the winner's remarkable 230½. When you lose by a tiny margin, it somehow seems much harder to forgive yourself the dozens of deals on which you might have got just a slightly better score.

No second-place team ever had more cause to look back for trifles than the runners-up in the Mixed Team Championship: Sidney Lazard, Lou Gurvich and Mrs. Jean Frankel of New Orleans, Dr. John Fisher of Dallas and Mrs. Boots Kendricks of Lubbock, Texas. Their score at the end of four sessions of play was 40.48, less than one one-hundredth of a point behind the 40.49 of Gloria Turner and Emanuel Hochfield of Chicago, Mrs. Louise Robinson of Hendersonville, N.C. and Richard Freeman of Washington, D.C.

This mathematically thin margin—it was actually less than .007 when worked out to three places—was due to the way the carryover into the final is figured. It meant that a single trick on any hand might have made the difference. Therefore, the hand on the following page played by Freeman, with Mrs. Robinson as his partner, is only one of the deals crucial in his team's victory:

Neither side vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Freeman)

1 [Diamond]
3 [Diamond]
6 [Diamond]
PASS

WEST

DBL.
PASS
DBL.

NORTH
(Mrs. Robinson)

1 [Heart]
5 [Diamond]
PASS

EAST

1 [Spade]
5 [Spade]
PASS

Opening lead: king of clubs

West's double of the opening diamond bid was irreproachable. North's one-heart bid was a fortunate strategic choice since it filled the glaring hole in South's hand. East's free bid of one spade was, if anything, an underbid. After that, the bidding gained pace until the moment of decision when Freeman had to decide what to do over the five-spade bid. He elected to go to six diamonds, although he would have been glad to play at five if he hadn't been pushed. By bidding six he could hope for some slight chance of making the contract—or that the opponents might save at six spades.

With three potential defensive tricks, however, West was not interested in a sacrifice bid, so he doubled. Much to his disgust, he failed to take even one trick; the only one his side gathered was his partner's ace of hearts.

There was no problem in the play. South trumped the club lead, drew the one adverse trump, ruffed all three of his spades and lost only to East's ace of hearts. At the other table, when Hochfeld and Miss Turner held the East-West hands, they were allowed to play a five-spade contract and went down only one trick to win the match and the title.

EXTRA TRICK
With a freak hand, if there is the slightest danger the opponents might make their contract, it is always best to bid a little more than you think you actually can make.