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Archive for June 2012

ACBL Bridge Beat #74: 1968 Finals Day Two

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On the second day, the standings took on a new complexion as Eisenberg-Goldman crushed Hamman-Kantar 70 ½ – 13 ½ and Rapée-Lazard narrowly defeated Caravelli-Rosenberg 45-39. Rubin-Westheimer took Wolff-Jacoby 63-21 and Becker-Hayden edged out Kaplan-Kay 50-34. The standings bunch with Rapée-Lazard 229; Hamman-Kantar 227 ½ ; Eisenberg-Goldman 217 ½ ; Rubin-Westheimer 199.

Slams proved troublesome in the evening. There were three slams in the evening’s 28-boards – two better than odds-on and one 50-50 at best. Only one pair got to either of the two good slams and only one pair stayed out of the doubtful slam, picking up a bushel when a crucial finesse lost. Here are the deals:

Deal 1

Dlr: East ♠ A J 10 8
Vul: N-S A K
A K Q 8
♣ 7 6 2
♠ K 7 5 4 2 ♠ 6 3
7 4 Q 10 9 5 3 2
10 9 3 J 7 6 5
♣ 5 4 3 ♣ A
♠ Q 9
J 8 6
4 2
♣ K Q J 10 9 8

At four tables, the bidding started with three passes and North opened 2NT. South tamely raised to 3NT and 12 tricks were made with a spade finesse. At one table clubs was the final contract, but only five of them:

West North East South
(Kay) (Morse) (Kaplan) (Feldesman)
2 Pass
3 Dbl Pass 4♣
Pass 5♣ All Pass

In view of North’s vulnerable takeout double at the three level, South might have responded five clubs and North would certainly have bid six. This slam was iron-clad.

Only a spade lead presents any problem and declarer can either try the spade finesse or play three rounds of diamonds, discarding a spade from his own hand.

Deal 2

Dlr: East ♠ A 10
Vul: None 10 8 2
A J 8 5 2
♣ A 8 6
♠ J 9 4 2 ♠ K 6 3
Q 6 5 4 3
9 4 10 7 3
♣ J 9 7 5 4 3 2 ♣ K Q
♠ Q 8 7 5
A K J 9 7
K Q 6
♣ 10

The usual auction was:

West North East South
Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 Pass 4
All Pass

North was not too enterprising. With three aces, either a change of suit before giving heart support or a later move might get to slam. The diamond slam is the better contract.

At the only table where the slam was bid, a weak jump overcall helped.

West North East South
(Kaplan) (Feldesman) (Kay) (Morse)
Pass 1
3♣ 3 4♣ 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 6 Pass Pass
Dbl All Pass

Kay led a heart as directed by the double. Kaplan got his ruff, but that was the only trick for the defense.

Deal 3

Dlr: East ♠ 9 7 2
Vul: None A J 10 3 2
♣ A J 10 5
♠ 4 3 ♠ 10 8
8 7 5 K 6
A 8 7 Q 10 9 5 3 2
♣ Q 9 8 7 3 ♣ K 4 2
♠ A K Q J 6 5
Q 9 4
K J 6
♣ 6

The usual auction was:

West North East South
Pass 1♠
Pass 2 Pass 3♠
Pass 4♣ Pass 4
Pass 4NT Pass 5
Pass 6♠ All Pass

Though the slam depended only on the heart finesse, the bidding might had gone the same way had North had the eight of hearts instead of the 10, and then there would have been very little play. North seems to have done enough with his 4♣ bid. A simple preference to 4♠, leaving further action to South seems wise.

Rapée-Lazard were the only pair to stay out of the slam, on this auction:

West North East South
(Lazard) (Rapée)
Pass 1♠
Pass 2 Pass 3♠
Pass 4♣ Dbl Rdbl
Pass 4♠ All Pass

South’s redouble showed second-round control in clubs. Rapée decided Lazard would not have bid only 4♠ with the ace-king of hearts and the ace of clubs and a singleton diamond. Missing at least two key cards, he knew the slam was on a finesse at best.

Standings after four rounds: Eisenberg-Goldman 296 ½ ; Rapée-Lazard 292; Hamman-Kantar 290 ½ ; Becker-Hayden 210.



Written by acbl

June 29, 2012 at 11:26 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #73: Trials Finals 1968 Day 1

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Hamman-Kantar started the finals with a 29 point lead over second-place Rapée-Lazard. The spread between first and 10th was a match and a half – 126 VPs.

Rubin-Westheimer beat Hamman-Kantar 43-41 in the first match as Rapée-Lazard closed the gap beating Kaplan-Kay 55-29. The big win of the day went to Roth-Root who blitzed Caravelli-Rosenberg and closed in on the top three.

In the evening, Kaplan-Kay lost again – this time 48-36 to Hamman-Kantar. Hamman-Kantar’s grip on first place tightened as Rapée-Lazard lost to Becker-Hayden in a match that swung on this deal:

Dlr: East ♠ A Q 6
Vul: None 10 7 6
6 5
♣ K Q 10 8 3
♠ J 10 9 8 7 2 ♠ 3
J 4 K 5 3
K 8 3 J 9 7 4 2
♣ 7 6 ♣ J 9 5 2
♠ K 5 4
A Q 9 8 2
A Q 10
♣ A 4
West North East South
(Hayden) (Lazard) (Becker) (Rapée)
Pass 1
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 2NT Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 5♠
Pass 6 All Pass

Opening lead: ♠J

Rapée’s jump to 4NT was quantitative and Lazard’s response showed middling heart support. Thus Rapée knew he was probably off the king of trumps, but felt his hand was good enough to try for slam. Five spades gave his partner a choice of final contracts – six hearts or five or six NT. The slam was entirely reasonable, but to Rapée the out come was unpleasantly reminiscent of other years when bad luck on slams was tremendously costly to his chances.

Declarer won the opening lead with dummy’s Queen and led a low heart to the eight and Jack. West’s spade return allowed East to ruff for a one trick set.

As the cards lie, declarer can make the slam by finessing the Q at trick two, but it is not clear that this is the right play. Even after the Queen wins, Rapée must overcome the temptation to guard against a 4-1 trump division by continuing with a low heart to the 10. As it was, he had no reason to suspect a 6 -1 spade division, so the line he chose was probably best.

Making six hearts would have meant a gain of 18VPs for Rapée-Lazard, giving them a 50-34 win instead of a 32-52 loss.

Standings after the first day: Hamman-Kantar 215; Rapée-Lazard 184; Eisenberg-Goldman 147; Becker-Hayden 139; Rubin-Westheimer 138.

Written by acbl

June 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #72: Pairs Trials 1968

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Sixteen pairs (Edgar Kaplan – Norman Kay, B. Jay Becker – Dorothy Hayden, George Rapée – Sidney Lazard, Bob Hamman – Eddie Kantar, Phil Feldesman – Dan Morse, Sami Kehela – Wolf Lebovic, George Rosenkranz – Paul Hodge, Dan Rotman – Charles Perez, Gerald Caravelli – Milt Rosenberg, Bobby Wolff – Jim Jacoby, Bobby Goldman – Billy Eisenberg, Al Roth – Bill Root, Jeff Westheimer – Ira Rubin, Steve Altman – Mike Becker, John Crawford – Tobias Stone, Richard Spero – Ronald Blau) set about the task of competing for a place on the team for the 1969 World Team Championship.

The sixteen pairs played in a qualifying round-robin of 14-deal matches. The ten surviving pairs played a final round-robin of 28-deal matches.

Individual deals were scored in IMPs, with each score rated against every other table. A single deal could carry a swing of as many as 98 IMPs (in qualifying rounds) for or against one pair, even though the maximum gain from a single opponent could not exceed 14 IMPs on any deal.

The IMP differences in each match were converted into Victory Points, with 42 VPs at stake in each qualifying round match and 84 VPs in each final round match.

Standings at the end of the qualifying stage:

1. Hamman –Kantar 464
2. Rapée- Lazard 427 ½
3. Kaplan-Kay 383
4. Rubin-Westheimer 381 ½
5. Becker-Hayden 330 ½
6. Eisenberg-Goldman 327
7. Wolff-Jacoby 317
8. Roth-Root 314 ½
9. Caravelli-Rosenberg 314
10. Feldesman-Morse 307 ½

Hamman-Kantar won 12 of 15 qualifying matches and finished with a qualifying score that was 65 ½ points higher than the previous year’s leaders.

The following hand, played by Al Roth, was reported as possibly the best from the qualifying matches.

Dlr: East ♠ J 6 4
Vul: All J 8 3 2
A 8 5
♣ A K 9
♠ K 10 9 7 3 2 ♠ A 8
K Q 9 7 4
4 K 9 6 3
♣ 7 6 5 4 2 ♣ 10 8 3
♠ Q 5
A 10 6 5
Q J 10 7 2
♣ Q J
West North East South
Pass Pass
2♠ Dbl Pass 4
All Pass

Opening lead: 4

Root’s takeout double with the North cards was a doubtful action, and when Roth jumped to 4 Root was not too happy. When Roth bid 4 he made a note on the score slip: “I think 3NT is the right bid!” As the cards lie, that contract is cold, but Roth scored a big pick-up anyway with perfect handling of his heart game.

Declarer suspected West’s diamond lead was singleton, so he won the A and cashed three rounds of clubs, discarding a spade from his hand. East’s ♣10 seemed to indicate long clubs with West, and West’s failure to lead spades suggested that East had a high honor. If East held both the K and Q as well, he was unlikely to have remained silent throughout the auction.

Roth elected to back his card-reading, so he led a heart from dummy and went up with the Ace, evoking a heart-warming response from West – the K. A diamond was surrendered to East, who shifted to Ace and another spade. Roth ruffed the second round and cashed two high diamonds, reducing the hand to this position:

♠ —
J 8 3
♣ —
♠ K 10 9 ♠ —
Q 9 7
♣ — ♣ —
♠ —
10 6
♣ —

East was about to claim two trump tricks for a one-trick set when Roth led his last diamond and ruffed with dummy’s Jack. East could overruff with the Queen, but he would have to lead away from the 9-7 of trumps into declarer’s combined 10-8 tenace. Making four gained 59 IMPs.

Written by acbl

June 20, 2012 at 8:09 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #71: Team Trials

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Many methods have been tried for selection of the North American team for Bermuda Bowl contests or of the United States team for World Olympiads.

From 1950 to 1960 selection was based on team performance. The ACBL selected the winners of the Spingold, or the victors in a playoff between the Spingold and Vanderbilt winners.

In 1960 the United States was entitled, by virtue of the size of the ACBL membership, to send four teams to the first World Team Olympiad. Two of the teams selected were the winners of the Vanderbilt and the Spingold. Each of the other teams consisted of three pairs selected by a committee (the five most recent ACBL presidents attending the 1959 Fall Nationals) from among the contestants remaining in the seventh or eighth round of the Vanderbilt and Spingold respectively.

The 1961 team was chosen directly by the ACBL Board of Directors. The team consisted of three pairs from among the winners and runners-up in major national events. That team was Howard Schenken, John Gerber, Paul Hodge, Sidney Silodor, Peter Leventritt and Norman Kay.

Pairs trials were instituted in 1961.

From 1961 to 1966, the first three pairs in each trial were nominated as the international team for the following year, and the fourth-place pair became the alternate pair.

Beginning with the 1967 trials, this automatic selection method was dropped and the non-playing captain was permitted to select any two of the top four pairs, and the third and alternate pair from among the remaining finalists. Julius Rosenblum exercised this option in 1967 when he named Edgar Kaplan and Norman Kay, who had finished fourth in the trials, to the team. Phil Feldesman and Ira Rubin, the third-place pair, became alternates. This was the only time the top three pairs were not selected as the international team. The other members of the team were Bill Root, Al Roth, Robert Jordan and Arthur Robinson.

Rosenblum resigned as non-playing captain after the 1968 Olympiad. In his resignation he wrote, “My primary and only purpose was to win and as a consequence, I played what I believed was the best combinations against the Italians. It was unfortunate that I didn’t feel it strategic to play all members as frequently as each might have wished; however, sometimes this cannot be helped. I regret, more than I can tell you, that I was unable to bring home the cup. I have been captain for several years and I think now is the time to turn it over to someone else.”

The final pairs trials were held Oct. 25 – Nov. 3, 1968 in Atlantic City NJ for the 1969 Bermuda Bowl held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Written by acbl

June 18, 2012 at 9:52 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #70: L.A. Office Closes

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Reprinted from The Bulletin October 1968:

The Los Angeles office of the ACBL, at 11010 Santa Monica Blvd., will be consolidated with the League’s principle headquarters at Greenwich CT as of the close of business Friday, Oct. 11, 1968. The building there, built in 1956, will be sold. Alan Oakes is transferring to Greenwich.

The present plan is for Tom Stoddard, Phyllis Bay and one other League employee to remain on duty in Los Angeles to handle the details of the upcoming Fall Nationals, as well as to facilitate the transfer of West Coast activities to Greenwich. After the Nationals, Miss Bay is scheduled to report to Greenwich, to continue to smooth the centralization of League activity and to handle other important assignments. Stoddard will remain in Los Angeles to further smooth the transition on that end. Meanwhile, their working quarters will depend on when the Los Angeles office is sold.

All orders and correspondence are to be addressed to the ACBL at 125 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich CT 06830. Extraordinary plans have been laid to facilitate shipment of West-of-the-Rockies orders and tournament supplies and to keep costs of these services in line. The full program will be announced next month.

The need to maintain double facilities has entailed many expenses, which can be drastically reduced by consolidation of the two League offices, without affecting the service to members. Funds realized from the sale of the ACBL premises in L.A. will be used to reduce League indebtedness to Units and to the mortgage holders on the half million dollar ACBL building in Greenwich.

Executive Secretary Easley Blackwood has pledged that, “other than temporary inconveniences, there will be no appreciable difference in service to West Coast members (outside of a few in New York City) suffered when we moved the metropolis to Greenwich. The dire prediction of service breakdown at that time proved to be totally unfounded; we believe that savings from the present move will enable us to render better service and additional services to all members.”

Written by acbl

June 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #69: Buenos Aires Affair

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In 1965, the international bridge world was rocked by a widely publicized charge that Terence Reese and Boris Schapiro, representing Great Britain in the Bermuda Bowl at Buenos Aires, Argentina, had transmitted information about the heart suit by finger signals.

The original observations were made by B. Jay Becker and Dorothy Hayden, members of the North American team, and Alan Truscott, bridge editor for The New York Times. They testified that the British pair were observed to be holding their cards in a varying manner, with a different number of fingers, either closed or spread, showing at the backs of their hands.

After comparing findings, it was suggested that Reese and Schapiro were signaling the number of hearts they held (two fingers for two or five hearts, depending on whether the fingers were closed or spread, three fingers for three or six hearts, and so forth). The evidence was presented to John Gerber (npc, North American team), who in turn brought it to the attention of Ralph Swimer (npc, British team) and Geoffrey Butler, chairman of the British Bridge League and member of the World Bridge Federation Executive Committee and chairman of its Appeals Committee.

After an independent investigation, Butler called a meeting of the Appeals Committee to present his observations, to study the evidence further and to inform Reese and Schapiro of the charges against them. Both denied the allegations. The matter was then brought to the attention of the WBF Executive Committee. On the last day of the World Championship, by a vote of 10-0 (Carl’Alberto Perroux abstaining, one absentee), the Executive Committee found Reese and Schapiro guilty of using illegal signals, and the evidence was turned over to the British Bridge League for final disposition. Swimer conceded the Great Britain-Argentine match, which Great Britain had won 380-184, and the Great Britain-North American match, in which Great Britain was leading 288-242 with 20 boards to play.

After receiving the WBF report, the British Bridge League set up an independent inquiry to study the charges, headed by Sir John Foster, Queens Counsel, and General Lord Bourne, who was assisted on the technical aspects of the case by Alan Hiron and Tony Priday. In the Foster Report, released after 10 months’ consideration, Sir John Foster said that in reaching its verdict the Inquiry was looking for the same standard of proof from the accusers as it would for a criminal charge. On this basis, the direct evidence as to the exchange of finger signals, strong though it was, could not be accepted because of the reasonable doubt the Inquiry had on two grounds. These were direct evidence from Mr. Kehela, and that an examination of all the hands that might have had a bearing on the allegations gave clear evidence that neither the bidding nor the play of the hands revealed any foreknowledge of the heart suit. Accordingly, it found the accused not guilty of cheating in the tournament.

After learning of this verdict, WBF President Charles Solomon stated, “It is doubtful that the WBF can accept the decision of the London hearing.” His position was that the WBF had rendered the verdict in Buenos Aires and had submitted its report to the British Bridge League to determine punitive action.

At its annual meeting in 1967, the WBF Executive Committee reaffirmed its earlier guilty verdict and passed a resolution that the chairman of the Credentials Committee refer applications of any player found guilty of irregular practices in WBF-sponsored tournaments to the Executive Council. The implication was that applications by Reese and Schapiro would not be accepted, and the implication became fact in 1968 when the Executive Council so answered a query from the British Bridge League concerning possible entry of Reese and Schapiro in the 1968 World Team Olympiad. As a result, the British Bridge League elected not to participate in the Olympiad.

In 1968, the Executive Council restored Reese and Schapiro to good standing on the ground that the three-year ban that had been in effect since 1965 constituted adequate punishment.

The repercussions of the episode during the years of controversy spanned the American and European continents. An article by Rixi Markus defending Reese that appeared in The Bridge World resulted in a libel suit by Swimer, and the reluctance of Reese and Swimer to play against each other created problems in the 1968 British Team Trials.

The evidence for both sides was presented in books by two of the controversy’s leading figures: Reese’s Story of an Accusation and Truscott’s The Great Bridge Scandal.

Written by acbl

June 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #68: Scientists v Traditionalists Deals

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In Sports Illustrated, Charles Goren commented:

Both teams were frequently hampered by their own bidding methods and occasionally this happened on the same hand.

Dlr: South ♠ J 10 7 5
Vul: None J 7 5
A 10 7 5 2
♣ J
♠ 8 6 2 ♠ 4 3
9 8 6 3 A Q 4
Q J 6 4 9
♣ 10 3 ♣ A K 9 6 5 4 2
♠ A K Q 9
K 10 2
K 8 3
♣ Q 8 7
West North East South
(Stayman) (Hayden) (Mitchell) (Becker)
Pass Pass 3♣ Pass
Pass 3 All Pass

Becker-Hayden do not use the Stayman convention so Mrs. Hayden passed Becker’s notrump bid. Vic Mitchell wanted to bid 2♣ with this hand, but that would have been Landy, requesting partner to choose between the majors. So he bid 3♣, a contract that would have been set 300, had the opponents doubled. However, Mrs. Hayden bid three diamonds – which she barely made.

At the other table Roth-Stone, using the Stayman convention, bid four spades. East won the club lead and shifted to hearts. Roth, sitting South, had no option except to play for the queen to be to the right. He lost only one heart, one club and one diamond trick, making game for a score of 420, a gain of 7 IMPs.

In the New York Times, Alan Truscott wrote:

Nearly all of the gains and losses were the result of skill, judgment or luck.

The deal below helped the “scientists” to move into the lead. Bidding to 6 was largely a matter of judgment, but at three minor points, science showed to slight advantage.

Dlr: West ♠ A 9 8 7
Vul: E-W A K 8 5 3
A 8 6 2
♣ —
♠ 5 4 ♠ K 10 6 3
Q 10 9 6 J
J 3 10 9
♣ 7 6 5 3 2 ♣ K Q J 10 9 8
♠ Q J 2
7 4 2
K Q 7 5 4
♣ A 4
West North East South
(Jordan) (Robinson)
Pass 1 2♣ 2
Pass 3♣ Pass 3
Pass 3♠ Pass 4♣
Pass 4 Pass 4
Pass 6 All Pass

Robert Jordan was North and Arthur Robinson was South, using a bidding style based on Roth-Stone. South’s bid of two diamonds virtually guaranteed a game. North was then prepared to drive the bidding to 6. He made a cue-bid of 3♣ and followed with other exploratory bids in the hope of reaching a grand slam.

West led a club, and Robinson had to plan the play carefully. He needed three tricks from the spade suit in order to discard his heart loser, so the handling of the spade suit became the vital factor in the play.

East’s vulnerable overcall of two clubs strongly indicated that he held the ♠K; Robinson, therefore, won the first trick in his hand and discarded a heart from the dummy. Trumps were drawn in two rounds, and dummy was entered by ruffing a club. A low spade was led and East put up the king.

South could then claim 12 tricks. It would not have helped East to play low on the spade lead. South would have won with the queen, entered dummy with a heart and led another low spade to the jack.

When the hand was replayed East made a “scientific” weak jump overcall of 3♣. This crowded the bidding for North-South and they reached only 5. This was perhaps well for them, because East’s preemptive jump had not betrayed the position of the ♠K; South misjudged the spade situation and only made 11 tricks.

Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan

Arthur Robinson

Arthur Robinson

Written by acbl

June 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

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