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Archive for September 2012

ACBL Bridge Beat #108: Corporate America vs Congress 1990

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After the 1989 Corporate America vs. Congress Match, Congress team Captain Arlan Stangeland issued a challenge for a rematch the following year which was accepted.

The second match was held on May 10, 1990 at the Capital Hill Club in Washington DC. The match was dedicated to Malcolm Forbes.

Playing for Corporate America were Laurence Tisch, Warren Buffett, Jimmy Cayne, George Gillespie III, Alan Greenberg, Jack Dreyfus, founder of the Dreyfus Fund; and Milton Petrie, CEO of Petrie Stores Corp. Judi Radin served as their coach.

Playing for Congress were Arlan Stangeland, Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, Rep. Hank Brown, Rep. Jim Bunning, Sen. James Jeffords, Rep. Robert Kastenmeier, Rep. Jim Leach, Rep. Howard Nielson, Sen. Bob Packwood, Rep. Bob Smith, former Rep. Roger Zion and Judge Mel Wells. Their coach was Buck Buchanan.

When the match started it appeared that three Senators and two businessmen might miss a good part of the match. A major vote was taking place in the Senate and the weather prevented planes from landing. But everyone arrived by the end of the first four deals.

Corporate America got off to a fast start and ran away with the match winning, 104-27.

Congress finally broke into the scoring column on Board 17 when Boschwitz and Kastenmeier outbid the opponents.

Board: 17

Dlr: North ♠ Q J 2
Vul: None 6 5
A Q J 8 7 3 2
♣ 10
♠ K 8 4 ♠ A 7 5
J 9 8 7 3 A 10 4 2
9 10 6 5 4
♣ A 9 5 2 ♣ K J
♠ 10 9 6 3
♣ Q 8 7 6 4 3
Boschwitz Buffett Kastenmeier Gillespie
West North East South
3 3 Pass
4 All Pass

Strange – when there was a preempt, East-West got to game; when there was no preempt, East-West did not bid at all. That’s right – the hand was passed out at the other table.

Gillespie led his singleton diamond and switched to a spade. Kastenmeier won and set about ruffing dummy’s losing clubs. He got a rude shock when Buffett ruffed the second round. Buffett led a diamond and Gillespie scored his trump king while dummy pitched a losing spade. Kastenmeier won the next trick and led the trump ace. When the two remaining trumps fell, he had his game and 9 IMPs.

The biggest swing in the match came on this deal:

Board: 22

Dlr: East ♠ K J 4 3
Vul: E-W J 5 2
Q 10 8 2
♣ A 6
♠ — ♠ Q 9 7 5
9 8 7 6 4 K Q 10
9 A J 7 4
♣ K Q J 7 5 3 2 ♣ 10 9
♠ A 10 8 6 2
A 3
K 6 5 3
♣ 8 4
Tisch Nielson Dreyfus Kastenmeier
West North East South
1 1♠
2♣ 2♠ Pass Pass
3 3♠ Dbl Pass
4♣ Pass 4 Pass
Pass Dbl All Pass

There was nothing in the bidding to indicate just how wild Tisch’s distribution was. Nielson had some cards that looked like they would declarer trouble, so he doubled. But with a void in spades and a singleton diamond opposite the ace, Tisch had no problem taking 11 tricks for +990.

Things took a completely different turn at the other table.

Leach Cayne Wells Greenberg
West North East South
1NT 2♠
5♣ 5♠ Dbl All Pass

Wells opened a weak notrump and Leach leaped to 5♣ with his freak hand over Greenberg’s overcall. Cayne assessed the situation well and realized that his side’s defense would evaporate and 5♠ couldn’t be badly hurt. He was right – 5♣ would have come home and Greenberg was set only 300. A 12-IMP pickup.

Although Stangeland issue a challenge for a rematch the next year and Corporate Captain Tisch accepted, Corporate America and Congress did not meet up again until 1993.


Written by acbl

September 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #107: Corporate America vs Congress

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Businessmen fight against legislators every day in Washington. The first such battle in the microcosm of the bridge table occurred May 11, 1989 in that city.

”We’ll see who can concentrate better on a bridge match, the lawmakers or the moneymakers,” said Kathie Wei, who with Dr. Patricia Cayne organized the Corporate America vs. U.S. Congress match. Intended to be an annual event, Corporate America and Congress faced off three more times after the inaugural event in 1989. They played in 1990, 1993 and 1996.

The Corporate America Team in 1989 was Laurence Tisch, Alan “Ace” Greenberg, Jimmy Cayne, Warren Buffett, Malcolm Forbes and George Gillespie III. Playing for Congress were team captain Arlan Stangeland of Minnesota, Lynn Martin of Illinois, Bob Kastenmeier of Wisconsin, Hank Brown of Colorado, Jim Leach of Iowa, Howard Nielson of Utah, and Bob Packwood of Oregon. Joining them were Judge Mel Wells, Senators Bob Kerry of Nebraska and Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, and a former Congressman, Roger Zion of Wisconsin.

Corporate America was heavily favored because two recognized champions – Jimmy Cayne and Ace Greenberg – were on the team. Corporate America did win, but it was close. Using an IMP scale, the final score was Corporate America 54, Congress 39.

Corporate America took a huge lead right at the start. Jimmy Cayne and Ace Greenberg bid and made a slam on the first deal – the Congress pair stopped in game. On the second deal Tisch and Forbes got to a diamond game while congress stopped at 4. When the ♣K proved to be onside, the game made and Corporate America was ahead, 17-0.

But Sen. Boschwitz got 4 IMPs back on the third deal when he made 4 doubled. And two boards later the match was tied, 17-17.

Here is the deal that earned Congress 13 IMPs:

Board: 5

Dlr: North ♠ 8
Vul: N-S K 9 7 6 5 2
4 2
♣ K Q J 7
♠ Q 10 9 6 4 3 ♠ J 7 2
4 3 A J 8
Q 8 6 3 A
♣ 8 ♣ 10 9 6 5 3 2
♠ A K 5
Q 10
K J 10 9 7 5
♣ A 4
Forbes Martin Tisch Brown
West North East South
Pass Pass 1NT
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3NT All Pass

Rep. Brown wasn’t happy when Forbes led a spade – he had a lot of work to do and there were enough spades out to defeat him. He ducked the first spade, won the second and attacked hearts by leading the queen. Tisch won this and knocked out Brown’s last spade stopper. But Brown passed the 10 – and Tisch was helpless. He cashed the A and led a club, but now Brown was in complete control, scoring up his game.

Greenberg and Cayne found their heart fit at the other table, but one level too high.

Packwood Cayne Kastenmeier Greenberg
West North East South
2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3 Pass 4♣
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 5
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
Pass 6♣ Dbl 6
Pass Pass Dbl Pass

Cayne thought Greenberg’s 4♣ bid showed very good clubs – hence his run from the double of 5. Cayne’s suit certainly was mangy, Greenberg corrected to 6, but Rep. Kastenmeier took his two aces.

The match drew excellent media coverage. CNN featured the game three times – worldwide. The Omaha paper put the story on page 1 and the press services put a story on the wire.

To be continued . . .

Written by acbl

September 25, 2012 at 7:59 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #106: Battle of the Sexes

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The Marathon Bridge Battle of the Sexes was held April 1 – 15, 1989. The event was run as a team-of-four with one table of two men against two women was in play at the Cavendish Club in Manhattan. The other table, with men and women in the opposite directions, was at the Club de Bridgeur in Paris. Alan Truscott, assisted by Claire Tornay and Peter Secor, ran the play in New York while José Damiani coordinated the play in Paris.

The Battle set records for the longest continuous bridge event (2352 boards), the most players in a match (1000) and it was the first trans-Atlantic match. The Guinness Book of World Records had reported that the longest bridge match prior to this event was set by four students in Edinburgh in 1972. They played a total of 180 hours.

The opening guns in the match in New York were Kathie Wei-Sender and Judi Radin against Alan (Ace) Greenberg and Jimmy Cayne. Other contestants included world champions, a 12- year-old boy, 96-year-old Jay Feigus (who also competed in the first big contract bridge tournament held in 1929) and a few celebrities. Some of the celebrities on hand were Howard Head, inventor of the Head tennis racket; Malcolm Forbes and Lawrence Tisch, president of CBS.

The lead seesawed for most of the match. The men took and early lead, lost it, regained it, almost lost it again but held on at the finish with a hard-won 196 IMP victory . At the end of the match, Alan Truscott joked, “I’ve decided that sex wears me out.”

Written by acbl

September 21, 2012 at 7:53 am

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ACBL Bridge Beat #105: The Early Reading

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Alfred Sheinwold, one of the all-time great bridge writers and analysts, and Ed Manfield, ACBL Hall of Fame member, were voted the winners of the 1986 Bols Brilliancy Prizes. Sheinwold’s description of a deal excellently played by Manfield during the 1986 Rosenblum Cup final was selected from a slate of 10 candidate hand.

Here is the write-up by Sheinwold that appeared in the World Championship Daily Bulletin on Sept. 23, 1986:

The early reading
By Alfred Sheinwold

During the home stretch of the Rosenblum Cup finals, one of our new world champions picked up 10 IMPs by reading virtually the entire hand at trick two. He also had to play the hand with great finesse; there’s no advantage in an early reading if you then muff the opportunity.

Board: 118

Dlr: E ♠ K 6 5 3 2
Vul: E-W K 3
♣ 10 9 6 4 3
♠ 8 7 ♠ A J 10 4
J 6 2 A 10 8 7 5
10 9 8 4 2 Q
♣ K 7 5 ♣ A Q 2
♠ Q 9
Q 9 4
A K J 7 6 5
♣ J 8
Woolsey Fazli Manfield Mahmood
West North East South
1 1NT (1)
2 2♠ 4 All Pass

(1) Comique
(2) Sometimes Kit Woolsey has more than a King and a jack for his raise.

Zia Mahmood led the A and continued with the7. Fazli ruffed with the K, and Manfield knew virtually the whole hand.

The diamond position was obvious, and North had started with only K-3 or K-4 of hearts since with K-x-x or K-9 he would have ruffed low. North didn’t have the singleton K because with 11 black cards he’d have bid more. South probably had doubletons in both black suits since with a singleton and a strong six-card diamond suit he might well have bid 2 or 3 over 1 instead of employing the comic notrump.

Armed with the knowledge, Manfield overruffed the second diamond with the A and led the ♠J. Zia stepped up with the ♠Q and led the K after some consideration. The panel wondered if Zia would lead another low diamond, hoping for another useful uppercut, but South couldn’t be sure if Fazli had another trump.

Manfield ruffed with the 7 (a crucial unblock) and led the ♥5. When Zia played low Manfield backed his reading by inserting dummy’s 6. (You were forewarned that Manfield played the hand with finesse.)

The deep finesse kept the J in the dummy and allowed declarer to return a spade to finesse the ♠10.

The fall of the ♠9 confirmed Manfield’s reading of the spades. Besides, Zia wouldn’t have stepped up with the ♠Q if he had started with Q-9-x. Since this reading also confirmed Zia’s club length, Manfield took the ♣K and ♣A, coming down to this five card ending:

♠ K 2
♣ 10 9 4
♠ — ♠ A 4
J 2 10 8
10 9
♣ 7 ♣ Q
♠ —
Q 9
J 6 5
♣ —

Manfield now lead the ♠A, and Zia was thoroughly pickled:

If Zia discarded, Manfield would discard dummy’s club and lead the ♣Q. If Zia discarded again, Manfield would discard dummy’s 9. Manfield would then lead the ♠4 to ruff with the 2 and return the 10 to ruff with the 10. South would get the Q, but dummy would win the last trick with the J.

If Zia ruffed the ♠A with the 9, Manfield would overruff in dummy with the J, and return a club to the queen. Zia would make the Q by ruffing, then or later.

If Zia discarded on the ♠A but ruffed the ♣Q with the 9, Manfield would overruff in dummy, ruff a diamond and lead the ♠4. Zia could take the Q at the 12th or 13th trick.

Actually, Zia quickly summed up the position and ruffed the ♠A with the Q. He then returned the 9, hoping Manfield didn’t have the ♣Q. But Manfield had the top club and claimed the rest.

*After the Bols Brilliancy Prize was awarded and since this is a complicated deal, several bridge journalists suggested that declarer’s play (not to mention the defense) could have been improved.

Hugh Kelsey wrote that a trump or club switch by South at trick two would have been more effective. Also, Kelsey wrote, declarer’s lead of the 5 was a slight technical error. Zia in fact could have beaten the game by rising with the Q and returning the 4. Now declarer cannot take all of his tricks. But if Manfield had led the 8 instead of the 5, he could not have been defeated. If South returned a trump, declarer could win in dummy with the 6, ruff a diamond, cross to the ♣K, draw the last trump and finesse the ♠10.

The comments of several writers appeared in the Bulletin of the International Bridge Press Association. Great Britain’s Derek Rimington noted that the unblock in the trump suit was actually not needed, since declarer could reach dummy with the ♣K to finesse the ♠10, arriving at the same position at trick nine.

Roy Griffin of Swansea wrote that South could defeat the contract by continuing the K at trick two, then switching to a club when in with the ♠Q. He also noted that, assuming South ducks the first heart lead, the contract is made whether or not declarer has retained the 7.

Written by acbl

September 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #104: The Worst Play?

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1986 ACBL President Tom Sanders and Ron Andersen were playing against George Tornay and Saul Bronstein behind screens in the Open Pairs at the 1986 World Championships in Bal Harbor FL. Sanders and Bronstein were on one side of the screen. Andersen and Tornay were on the other when this deal came up:

Dlr: North ♠ A K Q 6 5
Vul: N-S J 7 6 3
♣ Q J 2
♠ 3 ♠ J 9 8 4
K 4 A 10 9 5 2
A 10 8 6 2
♣ K 9 8 5 4 3 ♣ 10 7 6
♠ 10 7 2
Q 8
Q J 9 7 5 4 3
♣ A
Sanders Tornay Andersen Bronstein
West North East South
1♠ Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3NT All Pass

Declarer let the 10 hold the first trick. Andersen cashed the A and was shocked when he dropped his partner’s king. He decided it was a good idea to take the entry out of dummy, so he shifted to a club. Declarer led a diamond, and Sanders rose with his ace and led a spade to declarer’s ace. Declarer tried the ♠K and shook his head when Sanders discarded. So Tornay put Sanders in with a club to the king – and, in the words of Andersen, Sanders “made the worst lead in the history of bridge – a small diamond.” Andersen and Tornay folded their cards because obviously the rest of the tricks were declarer’s. But what was going on – both Sanders and Bronstein insisted that play continue. “Why?” asked Ron. “He has the rest of the tricks.” “Not if you ruff a diamond,” said Sanders.

“My dear Tommy,” said Andersen, “you can’t do any ruffing when you’re playing a hand in notrump.” “Who’s playing notrump?” Sanders wanted to know.

After some discussion, it appeared that Bronstein had tabled the 4♠ card after Tornay bid 3NT – but neither Andersen nor Tornay saw this. So one side of the screen was playing 3NT and the other was playing 4♠.

Surprisingly enough there is a rule to cover this situation. Under WBF regulation, when the auction is not complete, there is no play. So the board was thrown out. But it makes a good story.

Written by acbl

September 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #103: Dick Frey

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One of the items in the ACBL museum that is most often asked about is the whip that was presented to long-time Bulletin editor Dick Frey upon his retirement.

Dick Frey, Life Master #8, was a multi-talented writer, editor and champion player.

Frey (1905-1988) was a public relations chief and editor of the Bridge Bulletin from 1958 to 1970. He was editor-in-chief of the first three editions of The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge and 12 world championship books. After his retirement in 1970, he served as president of the International Bridge Press Association for 11 years.

Frey was a freelance writer on diverse non-fiction subjects for major magazines. His books on canasta, published in 1950 and 1951, sold more than a million copies and his According to Hoyle, published in 1956, sold nearly three million copies.

He was the author of How to Win at Contract Bridge in Ten Easy Lessons and several other books.

The generation of bridge players who knew Frey as an editor and a writer did not link him with personalities such as Ely Culbertson, P. Hal Sims, Harold S. Vanderbilt, Oswald Jacoby and Howard Schenken, but Frey was right there at the beginning of the heyday of contract bridge.

At age 25, he won his first major tournament victory — the Goldman Pairs. He was an original member of the Bid-Rite team and the Four Aces. In 1932, when Vanderbilt won the Vanderbilt Trophy for the first time, he had to defeat Frey’s Bid-Rite team (David Burnstine, Charles Lochridge and Howard Schenken) in the final.

The Bid-Rite team was the forerunner of the original Four Aces, formed in 1933 when Jacoby broke free from a Culbertson commitment and replaced Lochridge.

In 1934 the Four Aces (Frey, Burnstine, Jacoby, Schenken and Michael Gottlieb) won the Vanderbilt and the Spingold. Frey had the best tournament record of any player that year — he also won the Master Pairs and the Grand National Teams.

Frey had another great year in 1942 when he again achieved the rare double distinction of winning the Vanderbilt and the Spingold.

In a relatively short playing career, he won four other national events and was runner-up in seven.

In 1935 Frey went to work for Culbertson as sales manager for Kem Cards and later served as editor of The Bridge World magazine, technical consultant on the Culbertson system and a player on Culbertson teams, often as Ely’s partner.

In 1937 he began to write a daily newspaper column. He took over writing the Four Aces column in 1944 and in 1954 merged the two in collaboration with Schenken.

When he turned the column over to Schenken in 1970, Frey’s was the longest continuously published syndicated bridge feature in the United States.

From Culbertson to Charles Goren, Frey’s writing frequently appeared under the by-line of the bridge greats. He had the chameleon-like ability to change the style and flavor of his writing to fit that of the original.

Frey was boss and mentor to a number of bridge personalities he brought to the ACBL — Alan Truscott, Albert Dormer, Tannah Hirsch, Tom Smith, Steve Becker, Richard Oshlag and Sue Emery.

The late Sue Emery, Editor Emeritus of the Bridge Bulletin, remembered Frey as “such a great writer. He was a tough boss but he could take a pencil and your copy and make a story out of a mess.

“The man had a delightful sense of humor. He was very funny, a great storyteller and a stimulus to be around.”

Dick Frey & Sue Emery

Dick Frey & Sue Emery

Frey's whip

Frey’s whip

Written by acbl

September 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm

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ACBL Bridge Beat #102: Cavendish Invitational

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The Cavendish Invitational is the largest money bridge tournament in the world. The event was first contested in 1975 at the famous Cavendish Club founded in 1925 by Wilbur C. Whitehead in association with Gratz M. Scott and Edwin A. Wetzlar. The club was housed for the first eight years at the Mayfair House, and then moved to the Ambassador Hotel. It was at the Ritz Tower Hotel 1950-1965 and occupied premises on Central Park South 1965-1974. In 1974 it moved to the Carlton House, stayed until 1983, and after a brief stop on 48th Street, ended in a townhouse on 73rd St. Rent escalations and falling membership forced the club to cease operations on May 31, 1991.

The Cavendish Invitational continued to be held in New York until 1997 when World Bridge Productions (WPB) took over the tournament and moved production to Las Vegas. WBP added two open events as well as the John Roberts Teams, an invitational event, to the schedule to broaden the field for more players.

Through 2011 the Cavendish was played every year in the week before Mother’s Day, ending on that day. In 2012, WBP joined forces with the Monaco Bridge Federation (FMB) and scheduled the event for October in Monaco. Providing that the 2012 tournament is successful, the tournament in will be held in Las Vegas in odd years and Monaco in even years.

The tournament begins with the John Roberts Teams (named for one of the founders of the WBP), and the WBP Pairs and WBP Teams.

The heart of the Cavendish, the Invitational Pairs event, gets underway after the John Roberts Teams the following evening with a cocktail reception and calcutta-style auction. At the auction, the world’s top pairs are auctioned off to the highest bidders. Each pair has the right to buy a portion of the pool bid on them. Auction money is pooled and paid out to the top finishers of the three-day event. Along with the auction is a players’ pool comprised of entry fees from the players. Proceeds are distributed to the top-placed pairs.

For the main event, a scoring method called cross-IMPs – now used in many cash-prize tournaments – was employed from the beginning. Every result on every deal is IMPed against all other results for that deal. Although the IMP scale goes as high as 24, an upper limit of 17 IMPs has been set for the Cavendish Invitational Pairs.

Cavendish Invitational Pairs winners:

1975 James Jacoby, Gerald Westheimer
1976 Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel
1977 Alan Sontag, Peter Weichsel
1978 Roy Fox, Paul Swanson
1979 Roger Bates, Daniel Mordecai
1980 Lou Bluhm, Thomas Sanders
1981 James Cayne, Fred Hamilton
1982 Ed Manfield, Kit Woolsey
1983 Robert Lipsitz, Neil Silverman
1984 Marty Bergen, Larry Cohen
1985 Irving Litvack, Joseph Silver
1986 Matt Granovetter, Michael Rosenberg
1987 Drew Casen, Jim Krekorian
1988 Björn Fallenius, Magnus Lindkvist
1989 Marty Bergen, Larry Cohen
1990 Piotr Gawrys, Elyakim Shoufel
1991 Johan Bennet, Anders Wirgren
1992 Amos Kaminski, Samuel Lev
1993 Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein
1994 Kit Woolsey, Neil Silverman
1995 Paul Soloway, Harry Tudor
1996 Fred Stewart, Steve Weinstein
1997 Michael Seamon, Harry Tudor
1998 Bob Hamman, Nick Nickell
1999 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2000 Marty Fleisher, Eric Rodwell
2001 Michael Kwiecien, Jacek Pszczola
2002 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2003 Fred Gitelman, Brad Moss
2004 Sam Lev, Jacek Pszczola
2005 Andrea Burotti, Massimo Lanzarotti
2006 Ton Bakkeren, Huub Bertens
2007 Steve Weinstein, Bobby Levin
2008 Geoff Hampson, Eric Rodwell
2009 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2010 Bobby Levin, Steve Weinstein
2011 Fred Stewart, Kit Woolsey

Written by acbl

September 12, 2012 at 9:08 am

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