Four Masters from Canada

September 05, 1965

While thousands of bridge players were breaking every kind of attendance record at the Summer Nationals in Chicago last month, four Canadians set a different kind of record in the battle for the Spingold Trophy, emblematic of the Masters Knockout Team championship. The same four players who took the title last year in Toronto—a barrister of Scottish descent, a bridge teacher and coach who had been born in Iran, a veteran flyer of World War II and a lifetime sufferer from cerebral palsy—successfully defended their championship. This was the first time in the 32-year history of the Spingold Trophy competition that the same team had won two years in a row.

Most of the 128 teams entered (the largest entry ever to play in a knockout team event) consisted of five or six players; Canada's Eric Murray, Sammy Kehela, Percy Sheardown and Bruce Elliott decided that four players were enough, just as they had the year before when they went through 11 rounds of play without defeat. In Chicago they were still undefeated when they reached the finals and had to face the powerful team of Edgar Kaplan and B. Jay Becker of New York, Norman Kay of Philadelphia and Mrs. Dorothy Hayden of Hastings-on-Hudson. That the Canadians would remain undefeated through an unprecedented 16th straight knockout match became inevitable by the time the finals were a quarter completed. The Murray team had taken a big lead over Kaplan's team, 37-12, and then came the tenth board of the session (left), in my opinion the board that decided the match then and there.

In the closed room, where the board first was played, Elliott, sitting West, passed at his first opportunity but leaped to four clubs when Sheardown made a somewhat light double of Kaplan's opening diamond bid. This was doubled and set 500 when the defense collected the first five tricks: two diamonds, a diamond ruff, a spade and a heart. But what seemed like a sure Canadian loss was turned into a profit as the crowd watching Bridge-O-Rama witnessed the following action:

WEST
(Becker)

3 [Club]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Kehela)

DOUBLE
4 [Heart]
PASS

EAST
(Mrs. Hayden)

PASS
DOUBLE

SOUTH
(Murray)

3 [Heart]
PASS

Becker opened the club ace and continued clubs, forcing dummy to ruff with the jack. Declarer cashed one high heart and two top diamonds, ruffed a diamond to establish the suit, then led to dummy's last heart. The good 8 of diamonds was led, and Mrs. Hayden had her choice of losing plays. If she ruffed high declarer would discard his losing club. When she ruffed low Murray overruffed and led his last trump, giving the defenders their second trick with the queen of trumps but forcing a spade return. The spade 10 was covered by the queen and was won by the ace. The good diamond was cashed, Murray discarding his losing club. Then dummy led a spade and Mrs. Hayden was helpless to prevent Murray from winning a tenth trick with his spade jack.

The Canadian plus was 790, a net of 290 on the combined result and a gain of 7 International Match Points. Up to this point each team had gained on two deals and five were standoffs, but from here on the tide ran steadily toward Canada.

Both sides vulnerable West dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[5 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[King of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[King of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]
[5 of Clubs]

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

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)