Knocked out by a big swing

June 25, 1967

At the halfway point in its battle against Italy for the Bermuda Bowl early this month the American team was very much in contention—only 3 IMPs behind. But when the team fell 45 IMPs back with only 32 boards to go, desperate tactics were called for. Nonplaying Captain Julius Rosenblum followed the traditional strategy for a team in need of quick points and benched his steadiest pair, Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay, in favor of his swing-getters. Captain Rosenblum got his big swing—a 17 IMP haymaker (below)—but it was against his own team. End of contest.

In the closed room the Italians trotted out one of Giorgio Belladonna's pet conventions in the Roman System. Walter Avarelli's two-club bid showed a weakish three-suiter—with a stronger one, he would have opened two diamonds. If West's hand had been strong enough to make a game possible, he could have bid two no trump, asking opener to mention his short suit. Instead, West merely showed his own long suit, and East passed. Bill Root's reopening double was the sound tactic once the opponents had found a fit, and Alvin Roth's pass was based on a mistaken impression that they had failed to find it.

It was a costly decision. Belladonna won the first trick with dummy's king of hearts, cashed the ace of clubs and ruffed a club, then led the king of spades. North ducked, but declarer simply abandoned the trump suit and took a successful finesse against South's queen of hearts. The defenders collected two diamonds and two spades, and Belladonna chalked up two spades doubled, with an overtrick, for a score of +870. Worse was to follow, as the crowd watching on Bridge-O-Rama heard this bidding:

SOUTH
(Forquet)

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

WEST
(Murray)

PASS
1 [Spade]
2 [Spade]
DOUBLE

NORTH
(Garozzo)

PASS
PASS
3 [Club]
ALL PASS

EAST
(Kehela)

1 [Diamond]
PASS
3 [Spade]

Opening lead: 7 of diamonds

Pietro Forquet won the opening lead with his diamond ace and led a heart to the jack and king. Sammy Kehela returned the trump 9, and Eric Murray let it run to dummy's jack. Forquet could now have made his contract by cashing the king of diamonds and playing a spade-heart crossruff, but unaccountably he ruffed a spade before leading a diamond to the king. As a result, after ruffing another spade and a heart, declarer was forced to come off dummy by ruffing a third diamond, enabling Murray to overruff with the ace of clubs and return his last trump. The contract was now wide open to defeat, but on this trick Kehela let go of his remaining spade instead of his 8 of hearts. Declarer won the club in his hand, and ruffed a heart with dummy's last trump, felling Murray's ace. Dummy had to lead a diamond to Kehela's queen—but Kehela was left with a heart and declarer's queen of hearts made the fulfilling trick.

Close to tears, Kehela could barely gulp, "Sorry, Eric."

"Forget it, Sammy," Murray replied. "I probably shouldn't have doubled. Besides, I should have opened a trump." He was right on both counts. We lost 17 IMPs, but had the contract been set 200, we'd still have lost 12. Either way, the 1967 title was gone.

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

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

WEST

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

SOUTH

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

EAST

[King of Spades]
[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[9 of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Queen of Diamonds]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[9 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]
[9 of Clubs]

SOUTH
(Root)

PASS
PASS
DOUBLE

WEST
(Belladonna)

PASS
2 [Spade]
ALL PASS

NORTH
(Roth)

PASS
PASS

EAST
(Avarelli)

2 [Club]
PASS

Opening lead: jack 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)