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TEXAS MAKES SOME BIG DEALS

Dec. 04, 1961
Dec. 04, 1961

Table of Contents
Dec. 4, 1961

Ski Schedule
Yesterday
Football's Best
Trim And Strong
Big Deals
Boxing
College Football
Hockey
Gene Tunney
  • By Frank Graham Jr.

    Gene Tunney is a magic name in sport, one that evokes an instant and recognizable picture to millions of people, even though it is 35 years since he upset Jack Dempsey and won the heavyweight title. No athlete ever went to more pains to establish a public picture of himself but, incongruously, no athlete ever succeeded in obscuring his own great skills so completely. The story of Tunney then (left, in 1926) and Tunney now is the story of a man who has been almost unbearably successful

Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Pat On The Back

TEXAS MAKES SOME BIG DEALS

Through three top tournaments the eyes of the bridge world have been on Houston, where home-town talent has excelled

The city of Houston last week proved its claim to be the bridge capital of the U.S. In the course of two tournaments there, I saw ample demonstration of what my old Texas friends John Gerber, Paul Hodge and Ben Fain have long been telling me: that the country's best bridge is played in that state.

This is an article from the Dec. 4, 1961 issue Original Layout

Houston's eight-man team beat Los Angeles in the 80-deal Intercity Challenge Match for the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED trophy, 159 to 130 International Match Points. But even before that event had begun, Houston had placed two playing members, G. Robert Nail and Mervin Key, on the U.S. 1962 International Team, as a result of the five-day, 15-match trials. As a final honor, the non-playing captaincy of that team went to the 54-year-old Gerber, whose table skill and player judgment had been clearly established when he starred as a member of the U.S. group that finished second to World Champion Italy in the international competition in Buenos Aires this spring (SI, May 1).

In the intercity match, Los Angeles was represented by Internationalist Lew Mathe and five holdovers from the powerhouse that had defeated New York's best last year: Oliver Adams, Ivan Erdos, Harold Guiver, Edwin Kantar and Morris Portugal. In addition, nonplaying Captain Kelsey Petterson had bolstered his squad with Marshall Miles, 1961 Life Masters Pair champion, and Erik Paulsen. Hodge, the Houston captain, had Gerber, Key, Nail, Fain, Jerome Levy, Colonel Tim Willis and a pair of nearby experts, Curtis Smith of Austin and Robert Wolff of San Antonio. (In Texas, nearby means anything within a few hundred miles.)

Houston trailed through the first 15 deals of the match, then took the lead. However, even in the highly partisan audience following the proceedings in the Shamrock Hilton Hotel, the feeling grew that Los Angeles would soon unleash its blitz. When it finally came, the blitz was too late. Los Angeles gained 19 IMPs in the last two deals, but this served only to cut Houston's lead to a still thoroughly convincing 29.

The deal (hand A) that produced the biggest swing of the match, 14 points, appropriately starred one of Houston's favorite sons, Ben Fain, who was making his tournament bridge comeback after a two-year absence. Ben had slipped in the bathtub, broken his back and been partially paralyzed for some time. In this match he still required help in pulling his cards but this did not affect the skillfulness of his play one bit.

Fain, South, bid one no trump, and Gerber, North, jumped to three. When the Los Angeles team played the hand, the contract was the same, though arrived at differently. Probably neither team should have been in game since they lacked the customary 26 points, but both reached it and both received an opening lead of the 3 of diamonds.

East won with the ace. Against Los Angeles, the Texas defender returned a low heart. L.A.'s Kantar ducked, losing to the jack. West shifted to a spade, North played low and East's queen forced the king. That put declarer in his hand and made the comfortable way to play clubs the lead of the jack and a finesse against West for the queen. It lost and the hand exploded. East won the club trick, knocked out dummy's spade stopper, and all declarer could do was cash his top tricks. Kantar played with technical accuracy but pragmatically evil results. He ended down two.

Against Fain, L.A.'s Mathe shifted to the spade 5 after winning the first diamond. Declarer's 8 forced the jack and the trick was won by the ace. It was now logical and convenient to play a club from dummy and finesse the jack, which won. Next came ace, king and a small heart, forcing out East's 10. On the spade continuation, South's 10 held. Fain cashed the good heart, the spade king and three more clubs to make four no trump and score 630. The swing of 830 was worth 14 IMPs to Texas.

As was to be expected in such high-level competition, many other deals were bid and played superbly. In hand B, both teams stopped discreetly short of slam, then played with the necessary skill to bring home a contract that all players hate to reach voluntarily.

In the contract bridge trade, a voluntary bid of five in a major is sometimes called a "demi-slam." Since it carries with it no slam bonus and puts the game in jeopardy, it is a contract popular only with the opponents. Yet it is sometimes necessary, as in this deal, to bid to that level to let partner know you are interested in a slam. Had South held the king of hearts, he would have been able to bid a slam over North's five-heart bid but would have passed a mere four-heart bid, so North's move to five hearts is well justified.

The declarer found himself with a good deal of work to be done and none too many entries to dummy's hand. North's diamond ace won the first trick and a spade was led, ducked by East and won by South with the king. Nail led a low heart and put in dummy's 10 to force East's jack. Declarer won the diamond return with his king, crossed to dummy's club ace and led another spade. East climbed up with the ace to lead another diamond. Declarer was careful to ruff in his own hand. He led a low spade and trumped with dummy's queen, then played dummy's 6 of trumps and, when East played low, finessed the 9. The ace dropped East's heart king and declarer's spades were good for the rest of the tricks.

In the other room, with Lew Mathe declarer against Smith and Wolff, the opening lead was the king of clubs. Dummy won and led a spade, won by South when East ducked. The king and ace of diamonds were cashed and a second spade led. East took the ace and returned a third round of diamonds. Declarer ruffed in dummy, discarding a spade from his hand and led the queen of hearts through, limiting East to a single trump trick and proving that there is more than one right way to play a ticklish hand.

The ladies of bridge, conspicuously absent from the lists in the first two Houston events, made their presence felt on the first day of the Fall Nationals, which began immediately after the intercity match. Usually the Men's Pair and the Women's Pair events are of equal importance, but this year the women's title carried with it a trip to France to play in the world bridge pair Olympiad next April. Many of the game's leading ladies were among the 258 pairs seeking the honor of the title and the pleasure of a trip to the Riviera in springtime.

One of the most interesting deals (hand C) of the first session shows a keen battle for a part-score contract—typical of match point pair play—capped by a brilliant double by Margaret Wagar of Atlanta, playing with Barbara Kachmar of Bronxville, N.Y.

The double by Mrs. Wagar is such stuff as match point top scores are made of, and the defenders managed to collect 500 points. The opening lead of the diamond jack was won by dummy's ace. The spade return to declarer's jack went to West's king, and Mrs. Wagar shifted to a trump, won by East's ace. Declarer played the king on a club return and West took the ace, continuing with trumps. East's queen was captured by South's king.

At this moment South could have made a brilliant series of plays, drawing West's last trump, cashing the club queen to strip East of exit cards, and leading the 10 of diamonds, to force East's king. Assuming that East returned the ace of spades, South could discard a club and East would then have to give dummy the lead to make the spade queen and diamond queen. South would have gone down only one trick.

Instead South returned the diamond 10 at once. East took the king and led a third round of diamonds, promoting West's trump 10 to a sure winner. South could do no better than discard a club. Mrs. Wagar ruffed and eventually made another club trick as well, to put the contract down 500 for a top score on the board.

ILLUSTRATIONJOHN GROTHHOUSTON'S BEN FAIN PLAYS WINNING HAND FROM WHEELCHAIR, WITH PARTNER JOHN GERBER, AGAINST L.A.'S DEFENDING CHAMPSILLUSTRATIONJOHN GROTHL.A.'S LEW MATHE PLAYS DEAL, WITH PARTNER MORRIS PORTUGAL DUMMYILLUSTRATIONJOHN GROTHHOUSTON'S JEROME LEVY STUDIES HAND INTENTLY DURING INTERCITY MATCHILLUSTRATIONJOHN GROTHCHARLES GOREN COMMENTS ON PLAY FOR AUDIENCE IN THE SHAMROCK HILTON HOTEL

A

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

B

North-South Vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[King of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[4 of Clubs]

EAST

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

EAST
(Adams)

PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Nail)

1 [Spade]
3 [Heart]
PASS

WEST
(Erdos)

3 [Club]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Key)

DBL.
5 [Heart]

Opening lead: 2 of diamonds

C

Both sides vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

WEST
(Mrs. Wagar)

PASS
1 [Spade]
PASS
DBL.

NORTH

PASS
PASS
2 [Heart]
PASS

EAST
(Mrs. Kachmar)

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

SOUTH

1 [Heart]
PASS
3 [Heart]
PASS

Opening lead: jack of diamonds