15-round championship fight

November 19, 1962

In Phoenix, Ariz. this week 30 bridge champions, including myself and my partner, Helen Sobel, square off at the International Team Trials to see which three pairs will represent the U.S. in the World Championships in Italy. The 15-round match involves six days—and 280 hands—of the toughest possible competition, and it is noteworthy that of the six winners last year only one was over 40. This year some of the youngsters still have an excellent chance, including the youngest of them all, 26-year-old Arthur Robinson, who plays with fellow Philadelphian Robert Jordan.

Robinson and Jordan narrowly missed qualifying for a place on the 1962 team. They are a thoroughly proven partnership, having starred on the Vanderbilt-winning team in 1961. Here is one of the hands from that event:

Neither side vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

NORTH

PASS
DOUBLE
5 [Club]

EAST

1 [Diamond]
2 [Diamond]
PASS

SOUTH

PASS
4 [Club]
PASS

WEST

1 [Heart]
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: queen of hearts

Both Jordan, with the North hand, and Robinson, sitting South, had holdings well suited to their aggressive action following first-round passes. North was close to an opening bid in high cards and had good support for either black suit. Facing the distribution North promised, South's hand promised an admirable fit: only two cards in spades including a top honor; length and strength in clubs; first-round control of the diamonds; sufficient length in hearts to suggest that North would be able to take care of some of the losers in this suit by ruffing.

After the four-club bid, North had the right sort of strength to go on to game. He had first-round controls in the majors, second-round control in diamonds, length and strength in clubs. It was a certainty that the North-South hands could not have enough top-card losers to allow the opponents to run off with the setting tricks in a hurry.

West correctly judged that the defense had little to gain by a diamond opening. His lead of the heart queen allowed for the possibility that North might hold two or three hearts, including the king, and that the defenders could win two hearts in addition to a trick somewhere else.

Robinson took dummy's ace of hearts. Both the bidding and the fall of East's heart king strongly suggested that East had begun with only one heart. Robinson could see that the only hope of evading two heart losers as well as a trick to the ace of clubs was to put East on lead with the latter card at a time when whatever he played would give North a heart discard.

So declarer cashed the top spades, trumped a spade to return to his hand, cashed the diamond ace and ruffed his remaining diamond in dummy. Next came another spade lead, trumped by declarer, and West was unable to overtrump. Now, having stripped both his own hand and dummy of all cards except trumps and hearts, South led a trump.

East had to win the trick with his blank ace, with nothing left to lead but diamonds. His diamond return permitted South to ruff while North discarded a heart loser. Thereafter, West's remaining trump was drawn and a heart trick conceded.

EXTRA TRICK
There's a difference between giving up gracefully and giving up artfully. Good luck doesn't just happen; sometimes, as in this hand, you have to pave the way for it.

ILLUSTRATION

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)