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The last shall be first

April 16, 1962
April 16, 1962

Table of Contents
April 16, 1962

Point Of Fact
Postal Chess
The Masters
Eddie Arcaro
Donna De Varona
Rookie
Boating
Hunting
Bridge
Boxing
  • The protracted, even ridiculous, series of fights between Paul Pender and England's Terry Downes came to a gratifying conclusion in Boston last weekend when Pender regained, as expected, his middleweight title

Acknowledgments
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

The last shall be first

Not even seeded in the top 20, a St. Louis team survived a three-way round robin and won the Vanderbilt trophy at the Spring Nationals

In the 34 years since Harold S. Vanderbilt put into competition the coveted team trophy that bears his name, contract bridge tournaments have grown a great deal but changed only a little. Most of the events are the same, many of the players are the same, some of the winners are the same. Yet, somehow, every script is different, and the Spring Nationals in Lexington, Kentucky last month were no exception.

This is an article from the April 16, 1962 issue Original Layout

The crowd of participants filled the hotels of this Bluegrass horse breeders' capital and overflowed into motels for miles around, yet somehow managed to reassemble in time to make every parade to the post. Once assembled, it proceeded to write into the records a victory for a paraplegic war veteran, a case of wife beating husband (bridge style) and, in the final round robin, a Cinderella story with a slightly different twist.

In the opening events, New York's Philip Feldesman continued his recent winning ways, pairing with Ivan Erdos of Los Angeles to take the Men's Pairs. Sylvia Ste n of Detroit and Carol Sanders of Nashville took the Women's Pairs, and the right to play for the U.S. in the same event in the World Bridge Pair Olympiad in Cannes later this month. With Jessie D. Cook from Mount Clemens, Grant Marsee of Dearborn, Michigan, doomed to a wheelchair by back injuries suffered while he was in the Air Force, tied for the Mixed Pair title.

The main event in Lexington, the Vanderbilt, mustered a field of 60 teams of the country's top bridge players who played a two-losses-and-you're-out series of head-to-head matches. The first major upsets occurred in the third round when initial defeats were pinned on my team (which included Mrs. Helen Sobel, Howard Schenken, Peter Leventritt, Harold Ogust and Boris Koytchou); on the defending champions (Robert Jordan, Arthur Robinson, Er c Murray, Charles Coon plus a pair of Coast stars, Edwin Kantar and Marshall Miles); and on the team of Tobias Stone, Alvin Roth, George Rapee, Sidney Silodor and Norman Kay. The Stone team's defeat was the most notable because it was administered at the hands of a one-man, four-girl group that included Stone's wife. The following deal was the critical one because it led to the conclusion that when a husband tries to take advantage of his wife, he should do so only in the privacy of their home—not under the glaring light of the tournament table.

North-South vulnerable East dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

EAST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST
(Kay)

1 [Club]
2 [Heart]
PASS
DBL.

SOUTH
(Mrs. Stone)

DBL.
DBL.
3 [Heart]
PASS

WEST
(Stone)

1 [Heart]
3 [Club]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Mrs. S. Johnson)

1 N.T.
PASS
4 [Heart]
PASS

With a bust hand, Stone tried to steal the heart suit with a psychic bid of the kind that seldom works against good opponents. This one backfired in several different ways. It actually helped the opponents find their heart fit, and at the same time it induced Kay to reveal, by his raise of hearts and his double of the final contract, that he held both missing honors. Declarer dropped the club king under East's ace. A second club was won with dummy's queen and the 7 of hearts was returned. When East ducked, Mrs. Stone let the 7 ride. More trump leads picked up East's king-jack and declarer had to lose only one club and two diamond tricks.

At the other table, Silodor and Rapee also got to four hearts, but without the aid of the psychic and the double. Declarer took a first-round finesse of the heart queen and lost a trump in addition to three tricks in the minors. This contributed 14 IMPs to the Stone team's loss in the interfamily battle.

East-West vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

EAST

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

SOUTH

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

SOUTH
(Rubin)

1 N.T.
2 [Heart]
3 [Heart]
PASS
PASS

WEST
(Koytchou)

PASS
PASS
PASS
DBL.

NORTH
(Feldesman)

2 [Club]
2 [Spade]
6 [Heart]
PASS

EAST
(Ogust)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

As the rounds went by, the 24th-seeded St. Louis team, headed by Jerry Levitt and including his wife, Carolyn, Garrett Nash, George De Runtz and Larry Kolker, survived one early defeat and then began to bowl over al opponents, eventually eliminating the team headed by Edgar Kaplan and then the team headed by Mike Michaels, to reach the finals. Meanwhile, aided by two bye rounds, the Stayman team (including, in addition to Sam Stayman, Morton Rubinow, Victor Mitchell, Philip Feldesman and Ira Rubin) was undefeated when it met my team in the semifinal. We managed to beat them, winning by a margin of 23 IMPs to send the final into a three-team round robin. The bridge in this match was excellent, despite the kibitzer-delighting fiasco of both teams, who reached a small slam without the top trumps, on the hand shown above.

The two-club response asked South to show a four-card major. When South rebid his hearts to show a five-carder, North jumped to slam. The bidding when my teammates held the North-South cards was nearly identical and the doubled contract went down a trick at both tables. No doubt my comment will inspire a dozen letters from system-mongers who can tell me exactly how to stay out of such slam contracts, but I do not find a great deal to criticize. When one side holds so many high cards outside the trump suit, with such enormous duplication of values as the club void facing partner's ace-king, it is difficult to learn about the missing high trumps.

The result of the Stayman match filled our team with optimism. Two years before, we had stopped the unbeaten contender in the Masters Knockout Team Championship to force a round robin and we then went on to win. We had high hopes that history was about to repeat, but it was the Cinderella story that repeated. The Levitt team had shone from the start and it continued to shine all through the early play, at half time leading in both matches. But the night session would go on past midnight, and there was a feeling that, when midnight struck, the magic spell might be broken. It didn't turn out that way.

North-South vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

EAST

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

SOUTH

[Jack of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[— of Diamonds]
[Ace of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]

WEST
(De Runtz)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Feldesman)

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

EAST
(Kolker)

2 [Heart]
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Rubin)

3 [Club]
3 [Spade]
6 [Club]

Opening lead: 8 of spades

We defeated the Stayman team 70-46 but were in turn defeated by Levitt 98-61. Levitt lost to Stayman, so that each team won one match: but the Stayman team won by only 5 IMPs, 76-71, so the Levitt team won the Vanderbilt, and we were declared runners-up on comparison of total IMPs. Indeed, Levitt might have defeated Stayman, too, had either East or West uttered the magic word "double" on the very last hand (see above).

Duplication of values was responsible for another losing slam bid in this hand. South's free bid in clubs was inspired to some extent by his void in diamonds. Feldesman's cue bid in hearts was made en passant. It was just as cheap as bidding four spades and conveyed additional information in case South held a stronger hand. Rubin couldn't be sure his partner had neutral support for clubs, as the cue bid seemed to imply, but he had already indicated that he was prepared to play the hand in partner's spade suit, so North could correct to six spades if he could not tolerate six clubs.

As is often the case in such circumstances, I would judge that both partners overbid slightly. But it was the last hand of the match and no doubt they felt that they needed a favorable swing.

Rubin took the play that offered best hope of making the club slam. He won dummy's spade ace, dumping the jack under East's queen and leading to his club queen. If East held the doubleton king, trumps could be drawn, the spades established and the diamond king pushed through East's ace for a third discard. But the club finesse failed and two spade tricks put the contract down two.

At the other table, Levitt and Nash reached four spades and were also down two. It might have been made with double-dummy play against East's opening lead of the club 7, won by West's king and followed by a club return. Dummy continues with a high club, declarer discarding a diamond and East's ruff is with the spade queen. Assuming a heart return, North takes the ace and leads the diamond king, discarding from dummy if East plays low or ruffing if East covers with the ace. Good clubs are pulled through West's trumps with North over-ruffing and leading diamonds to put dummy back in. The best West can do is win another trump trick and the defense gets only one club and two trumps.

Had Levitt made four spades, or had his teammates doubled the six-club bid the Levitt team would have picked up more than enough IMPs to win the Stayman match as well. It turned out they didn't need to.

All the members of the Levitt team and mine have now automatically qualified to compete in the Team Trials to select our international team for 1962, so we'll get our chance to meet them again in Phoenix in November. Meanwhile, however, the Levitt team is sporting no mere glass slipper but the treasured Vanderbilt trophy.