Kicked by a king

February 18, 1963

Although there have been a number of worldwide bridge tournaments, beginning with the World Bridge Olympic of 1932 that was organized by Ely Culbertson, the North American Rubber Bridge Championship, which gets under way the week of March 4, is sure to have the largest field of any bridge event thus far. Last year more than 40,000 players entered. This year, with competition in at least 100 U.S. and Canadian cities, an entry of not less than 100,000 is expected.

There are several reasons for the large field: the scoring is the same as at rubber bridge, the early rounds are played among friendly pairs competing in their own homes or social clubs, the grand prizes are $2,500 for the winning pair and $1,000 for the runners-up, and entry is free—the bill being picked up by the tournament sponsor, North American Van Lines. Any group of four pairs may enter on or before February 28. Entry blanks are available at most places where playing cards are sold.

The tournament ends with a 60-deal meeting between the top pair in the East and the top pair in the West. In last year's finals, played in Chicago, Mrs. Joe Garcia and Mrs. Georgia Boone of Cincinnati defeated John Steele and Stanley Stone of Dallas. The ladies showed quickly that they weren't afraid of such strongly named foes, for the boldly bid hand here was only the second of the match.

With six-five distribution, it is correct to open the bidding in the longer suit. And with five-five, it is correct to respond in the higher-ranking suit, even though the lower-ranking is stronger in high cards. I would prefer to open with one spade on the North hand, which is a little weak in high cards for the strong-sounding "reverse" bid in the highest-ranking suit later on, but I would not call it wrong to open with one diamond.

Unfortunately for the ladies, the whole sequence of bidding thereafter led South to believe that North's spade suit was stronger than it turned out to be. North was entirely justified in cue-bidding clubs and, after South proclaimed heart control and slam interest, in jumping to the small slam. South, however, figured that she had not yet shown her king of diamonds and that this card was enough to warrant going on to the grand slam.

Dummy trumped the opening lead of the ace of clubs. Declarer came to her hand with a high heart and led the jack of spades. West made the good play of false-carding with the spade 9. Declarer took the finesse, lost to East's blank king and kicked herself.

What got North-South in trouble was failure to follow this rule: In considering a bid for a grand slam, weigh your "extra" values at full measure only when they are in the trump suit. A small-slam bid is correct when it is based on winning a finesse; a grand slam should never be undertaken without 3-to-1 odds in your favor.

Neither side vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

[King of Spades]
[7 of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[9 of Diamond]
[8 of Diamond]
[King of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[2 of Clubs]

NORTH

1 [Diamond]
4 [Club]
6 [Spade]
PASS

EAST

2 [Club]
5 [Club]
PASS
PASS

SOUTH

2 [Spade]
5 [Heart]
7 [Spade]

WEST

3 [Club]
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: ace of clubs

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)