A D.A.'s assistant wins the point race

February 21, 1966

Master points, those symbols of tournament success, were won by a record 165,000 U.S. bridge players during 1965. As usual, they went to competitors as young as 10 or so and as old—well, even older than I. Last year the McKenney Trophy, awarded annually by the American Contract Bridge League to the player earning the most master points, was won by Peter Rank, a Contra Costa County, Calif. deputy district attorney, with a total of 1,141. Second, with 1,050, was James Jacoby, son of the redoubtable Oswald, and third was Barry Crane, a Hollywood TV executive, with 1,049. This must have been doubly frustrating for Crane, since he had finished second for the previous four years, and then he actually helped Rank win the 1965 trophy by frequently playing as his partner. Below is a hand played by Crane and Rank in a southern California sectional championship, which they won.

Rank credits Crane with a fine bid when he raised South's secondary heart suit. In duplicate bridge a four-three fit in a major suit must often be preferred to a combined nine-card minor suit because the major suit scores more if game can be made in either suit. In this instance, however, the game was by no means certain in clubs. South would have to guess the trump situation without finding out a great deal about the distribution of the unseen hands. At hearts, a simple safety play paved the way for Rank to get all the evidence he needed.

West cashed two top diamonds and continued by leading the queen. In order to retain trump control in the event of a bad split, Rank refused to ruff. Instead, on the third diamond he discarded a club. West might have elected to continue by leading a fourth diamond, hoping that his partner held a heart high enough to make the trump suit unmanageable for Rank. But West correctly gauged from South's club discard that his side's best chance of another trick lay in declarer's misguessing the club situation. A fourth diamond lead would have let South discard another club while dummy ruffed with an honor. After trumps were drawn, South could discard a third club on the spade queen, and that would have cleared up South's club problem.

West's fourth lead was a spade. Rank won and drew trumps, noticing that West had started with four hearts. Next South cashed his second high spade, crossed to dummy's club king and led the spade queen. When West followed suit, West's entire hand was accounted for. The diamond overcall, as well as the fall of East's diamonds, marked West for a five-card suit; he had followed to four hearts and three spades. He could not have another club.

Since East had to hold the club queen, Rank led dummy's club jack, and, when East ducked, Rank confidently let it ride to make his game.

North-South vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

SOUTH
(Rank)

1 [Club]
2 [Heart]
4 [Heart]

WEST

1 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS

NORTH
(Crane)

2 [Club]
3 [Heart]
PASS

EAST

PASS
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: king of diamonds

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)