You gave Cassius Clay something of a chance to win and he capitalized on it. I suppose 99% of the nation's boxing experts told us Clay wouldn't survive the national anthem. Those of us who have followed Clay felt he would whip Liston as far back as his fight with Lavorante. But do you think the sportswriters are willing to eat crow? They are not. Some even had the effrontery to suggest that the fight was a setup. Many belittled Liston for retiring in his corner. What can boxing do to win? If Liston had pulverized Clay in one, they would have yelled, "What did I tell you?" If Liston had continued with an injured arm and suffered a serious or fatal injury, these same writers would have asked for an end to the brutal sport. Clay fought a smart, courageous fight—the only kind he could have fought if he was to survive the early rounds. So what do they write? On the strength of one fight, they call Liston washed up. Overrated. Not one has speculated what Liston might do in a return. Liston is still one heck of a fighter, and he's not that slow. Clay is just exceptionally fast.

I find it difficult to get disturbed about Clay's embracing the Black Muslims. That is his personal prerogative, and I don't know a good priest or minister who would deny it. Yet the sportswriters actually made Sonny a sentimental favorite after learning of Clay's conversion. Sort of reminds me of the style of the late ring announcer Harry Balogh: "And may the man with the more acceptable ideology emerge victorious."
Los Angeles

Congratulations on your sympathetic view of Cassius Clay—even before the fight. Since the fight, all the Clay haters have come to realize what Cassius was telling them all along: that his pose was just that and nothing more. The real Cassius is not the prefight Cassius.

Most of the sportswriting fraternity who hypnotized themselves by their own verbiage into firmly believing Liston to be invincible, have had their inflated egos punctured by "smasheous" Cassius.

Is it the mark of a champion or even the mark of a good sport to kick a guy when he's down merely because one's pride is hurt?
Newton, N.J.

Tex Maule's article on the Clay-Liston fight was highly analytical and bore the mark of a real professional. Most of the so-called experts who had built up Liston as a superman are now trying to get off the hook by questioning the validity of the fight. Their original judgment could be condoned. But their playing the role of diehards is difficult for this reader to appreciate.

"No money was to be gained by fixing a Liston loss." How naive can a magazine be?

What is the dollar difference between one fight and three fights?
Jackson Heights, N.Y.

In my opinion, Clay will prove to be as colorful a champion as Dempsey or Louis. As far as Liston is concerned, my thoughts on his future are that it will greatly parallel the career of Dempsey. If Liston's age is really well past 30 years, or past the age when an athlete generally finds his leg condition sending him downhill despite punching power, a young and clever boxer such as Clay will make it almost impossible for the former champion to regain the title.

My greatest regret is that I did not have the foresight to take advantage of the odds that prevailed for this championship battle.
Many, La.

Let's see now. Clay will give Liston a rematch, only "I don't think I'll fight again this year because of the income-tax situation and the Army draft call and all that." So in 1965 Liston beats Clay, who will have a rematch clause (of course) in his contract. And then in 1966 Clay beats Liston in another stunning upset, but fortunately Liston has a rematch clause and....

All great fun and I look forward to seeing the fights, provided boxing hasn't petered out in the meantime, but what a pity it won't decide who's really the best heavyweight in the world. You see, somehow poor Eddie ("Bridesmaid") Machen—who's looking better than ever these days—gets left out of the picture. By the time he gets a crack at the title he'll be too old to fight anymore.
Birmingham, Mich.

Surely you must realize by now how closely bridge idiots like myself are following your wonderful articles (A New Approach to Bridge, Feb. 17 et seq.). However, the six-spade hand shown in Part 4 (Tricks of My Trade, March 9) is a laydown even with the brilliant opening lead of the heart 6. Declarer (East) goes up with the ace of hearts, draws three rounds of trumps, plays three rounds of clubs (discarding his last heart on the queen of clubs), takes three top diamond tricks and concedes the jack of spades. I'd shoot my bride if she blew this one.
Wilmette, Ill.

•Don't shoot her; deal her the right hand instead:


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


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


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


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

A typographical error in our original story put the 2 of diamonds belonging to North in East's hand, put East's 2 of hearts in North. When this error is corrected, the hand is no longer a laydown since declarer cannot discard his last heart and loses the king of hearts and the jack of trumps.—ED.

Contrary to some of your readers, since reading Mr. Goren's articles on bridge I have become more of a sporting figure. Within a day of reading the article Double More Often (March 2), I had doubled my opponents into game (setting them) and redoubled twice successfully.

I appreciate your efforts in presenting this fine series.
Plainfield, N.J.

I'm no fan of Kentucky basketball or Cotton Nash—far from it. Our Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets under Whack Hyder split two games with Rupp and Co. this season and finished only two games behind the SEC champs.

But the letter from Richard Specter (19TH HOLE, Feb. 24) cries out for an answer from someone who is not a Kentucky partisan.

Cotton Nash does not station himself under the basket, as Mr. Specter so positively states. Nash at 6 feet 5 is, at best, only average in following shots for tip-ins. But on his better nights he is probably one of the top college shooters from outside; his soft touch behind picks from 20 to 30 feet is a thing of beauty. And Nash also hits with frequency on a graceful left-handed hook from the vicinity of the key.

I agree that Davidson has probably been overrated. And Villanova, I read and hear, is a top team. Wally Jones, beret and all, must be one of the best. And I would always root for Georgia Tech to beat the sox off Kentucky. But Cotton Nash is a fine all-round player, Kentucky on most nights is fast and sharp, and Adolph Rupp just has to be one of the top alltime coaches. Let's give credit where it's due and not underrate the Bluegrass boys.

Kentucky, "a little, good team with a big bad schedule" (Scouting Reports, Dec. 9), will put down Richard Specter's Villanova five any day of the week. If Mr. Specter is bitter because Villanova has lived up to its preseason ranking but is outranked by Kentucky (which wasn't ranked in the top 20 before showing its true ability) well, I guess he can always cheer for UCLA.
Annandale, Va.

As one out of a thousand students at Davidson College, I feel that the Villanova fan is showing his basketball ignorance when he says Davidson "is a disgrace to the top 10" and "plays schools that a small college should play."

Just to set him straight, here are some of the "small college" teams on this year's schedule: Wake Forest, St. Joseph's, Ohio State (NCAA runner-up in 1961), West Virginia University (a frequent contender for the NCAA title), Duke (1963 NCAA runner-up), Princeton University (last year's Ivy League champion) and, of course, the other teams in our own respectable Southern Conference.
Davidson, N.C.

Nash is not Kentucky's only player. This is demonstrated by the fact that while Nash's average is 25 points per game, the Kentucky team pours in an average of 86 points an outing.

It's also a good thing Adolph Rupp didn't know earlier in the season that Kentucky couldn't stay with tall teams; he might never have taken the 'Cats to the Sugar Bowl Tournament, where they took the title over Duke (with starters Hack Tison and Jay Buckley, both at 6 feet 10). Kentucky also won (104-73) at the expense of conference rival Vanderbilt, another "small team" whose starting front line runs 6 feet 7 to 6 feet 9, and includes the SEC's leading rebounder, Clyde Lee.