My team was dealt a body blow

September 15, 1963

In many diagrams of bridge hands the low cards are designated merely by x's. The difference between, say, a 7 and a 4 is supposedly unimportant—and, admittedly, no bidding system has been devised that takes into account the distinction between two such cards. But bridge players should be aware that there is a difference between a 7 and a 4, sometimes a crucial one. I could well claim that a little x marks the spot where my team met with a disastrous defeat at the hands of Samuel Stayman's team in the recent Masters Knockout Team Championship.

I have had my share of good luck in many tournaments, so I have no complaint, but the fates were against Howard Schenken and Peter Leventritt of my team in the hand shown below. Their bidding was better than that of their opponents, and they deserved to win points. But they lost them, all because of the 7 of diamonds.

At the other table, where my players were sitting East-West, North opened with one diamond, South responded one spade, North said one no trump, and South made a fancy bid of two clubs which I am unable to explain. North bid two no trump, South raised to three and that became the final contract, North-South having bid their powerful diamond suit only once. The contract was cold, of course, with an overtrick.

As the bidding progressed at the first table, Schenken felt that five diamonds would very likely be a much safer contract than three no trump. His four-club bid indicated first-or second-round club control. Then, when Leventritt jumped to five diamonds, Schenken properly bid the slam.

Edgar Kaplan opened the four of hearts from the West hand. South won this with the king, cashed the king of diamonds, led a club to dummy's ace and trumped a club. Next he led a low spade, surrendering the inevitable loser and preparing the way for a crossruff if diamonds did not break. Sidney Lazard won and returned a second trump, thereby proving Schenken's wisdom in leading only one round of trumps before surrendering the spade trick. Had he led two rounds, East's return of the third trump would have insured the defeat of the contract.

South won the trump return and, having learned that the trumps would not break, he had to continue with his crossruff plan. He led a heart to dummy's queen, trumped dummy's last club and returned to dummy with the heart ace. Hearts did not break, either, so it was necessary for South to ruff the fourth heart with his last trump. Next he cashed the ace of spades and led a third round of spades.

If East had held a third spade, or if North's highest trump under the ace had been the 7 instead of the 4, the slam would have been made. But East did not have another spade and did have the 7 of diamonds. He overruffed North's 4, and the slam was defeated.

As the cards lay, no line of play would have allowed Schenken to make the slam. Losing it cost our team 12 International Match Points, while making it would have gained us 13. Instead of losing the match by 18 IMPs, we would have won it by 7.

EXTRA TRICK
"Body" is an expression employed by some players to describe the intermediate cards, the 7s, 8s and 9s. The body can be an important factor in evaluating your hand. Often the decision on whether or not to risk a slam depends on the quality of these intermediate cards.

ILLUSTRATION

Both sides vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

West
(Kaplan)

PASS
DOUBLE
DOUBLE
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Leventritt)

1 [Heart]
3 [Diamond]
3 N.T.
5 [Diamond]
PASS

EAST
(Lazard)

PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Schenken)

2 [Diamond]
3 [Spade]
4 [Club]
6 [Diamond]

Opening lead: 4 of hearts

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)