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It happens in the best of families

Dec. 12, 1966
Dec. 12, 1966

Table of Contents
Dec. 12, 1966

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It happens in the best of families

Since bridge is a partnership game, you would think that the best pairs would be composed of equal partners. Among the most successful of the topflight pairs, however, it is usually noticed that one of the partners is more equal than the other. Should a reversal of the pecking order occur, the result can be devastating to the partnership.

This is an article from the Dec. 12, 1966 issue Original Layout

For example, when Benito Garozzo first appeared on the Italian Blue Team in 1961, he was thought of merely as the new partner of the great Forquet. Today Garozzo is considered at least Forquet's equal and, on the basis of performance in the last two World Championships, perhaps the better of the two. I believe that this demotion in public esteem has had a decided effect upon Forquet—a proud man who always smiled disarmingly when he called himself the world's greatest player but who meant what he said nevertheless.

Inequality in a partnership is not necessarily the result of superior skill; it may hinge entirely upon public recognition. Take the case of Fritzi Gordon and Rixi Markus, conceded to be Europe's finest women's pair and perhaps the best in the world. Both were originally Viennese, although they did not form their highly successful partnership until they came to Britain. Judged purely by technique there would be little to choose between them, though in the close-knit coterie of experts Fritzi may have a few more partisans than Rixi. But the mercurial, colorful, boldly dashing Mrs. Markus is far better known. I have no doubt that this is one of the reasons why this partnership has broken up for long periods from time to time—always recementing when each discovers that she does not seem to be able to gain the same measure of success playing with anyone else.

Their most recent reunion came in Warsaw, after a separation of two years following their triumph as members of the British team in the 1964 World Bridge Olympiad. As before, the reunion was celebrated with a victory, for Mrs. Gordon and Mrs. Markus helped Britain win the Women's Team title in the 1966 European Championship.

Here is a deal from Warsaw in which Mrs. Gordon demonstrated the art of guessing right to help Great Britain defeat Italy. Test your own ability by covering the East-West cards.

East won the first trick with the king of diamonds and continued with the ace, on which Mrs. Gordon dropped the jack and West played the queen—presumably a suit-preference signal asking for a heart switch. East duly led the 2 of hearts, and declarer had little choice but to finesse the queen, losing to the king. Mrs. Gordon now was faced with the need to win the rest of the tricks.

West returned the 6 of diamonds, ruffed in dummy. Success involves, as you can see, not only locating the queen of clubs but also picking up West's jack of spades. Mrs. Gordon had no difficulty. She cashed dummy's ace of spades, entered her hand with the ace of hearts, successfully finessed dummy's 10 of spades and cashed the spade king. East's hand could be counted for a very probable 1-4-5-3 distribution, so the odds were 3 to 2 that she held the club queen. Declarer led dummy's jack of clubs and let it ride. When this won, she entered her hand with the club ace, drew West's last trump and ran the clubs for the rest of the tricks.

Why did Mrs. Gordon make the hand when the South player in the same contract at the other table went down three tricks? The answer lay in her play of the diamond jack on the second round of that suit. For all West knew, a third round of diamonds would give declarer a ruff in one hand and a discard in the other, whereas a heart exit was perfectly safe. Why should West make such a foolish play unless she was trying to develop a trump trick? Though West was Italian, Mrs. Gordon looked with suspicion upon her Greek gift.

Neither side vulnerable North dealer

NORTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[8 of Hearts]
[3 of Hearts]
[10 of Diamonds]
[8 of Diamonds]
[King of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[5 of Clubs]

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

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

NORTH
(Mrs. Markus)

1 [Club]
2 [Spade]
3 [Spade]
PASS

EAST

1 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS
PASS

SOUTH
(Mrs. Gordon)

1 [Spade]
3 [Diamond]
4 [Spade]

WEST

2 [Diamond]
PASS
PASS

Opening lead: 4 of diamonds