I watched this
hand played at the Cavendish Club," my good friend Sonny Moyse reports.
"I'd write it up for The Bridge World," continued the editor of that
journal for the bridge elite, "if I thought anyone would believe me. But
since everybody accepts your writings as gospel, I think you ought to tell the
how could I refuse?
The cast of
characters fully accords with the action. East was the charming Rhoda Montorci,
whom you may have admired during the weeks while she spelled her way to a small
fortune on the TV program, Top Dollar. West was the international star, Boris
Koytchou. North was one of our brilliant younger players, David Strasberg. And
South, the eventual declarer, was Mrs. Joseph Gale, present holder of the
national mixed pair title.
The East hand
meets many of the requirements for an opening two bid: game in hand, three
suits with first round control, it even has enough points—20—for a hand with an
8-card suit and a good five-card suit. Strategically, however, the two bid is
not to be commended. There is no danger that this hand could pass out at a
contract of one spade. There is danger that partner will carry the bidding too
high with the wrong aces, or that the opponents will be warned of East's
freakish distribution—as indeed they were.
no-trump bid was the "unusual" no trump—a call for South to choose
between the two minor suits. When South found enough materiel to show the
diamonds in spite of the intervening four-spade bid, North knew she held real
diamond length. East's five-heart bid confirmed North's suspicion that East had
an extreme freak, and her pass to six diamonds was further evidence of no club
or diamond losers. So, when West went on to six hearts, North decided that his
partner would be short in that suit and that the finesses in clubs or diamonds
would be "on."
I admire North's
reasoning; but not nearly so much as I admire East's courage in allowing the
double of seven diamonds to stand. She could hardly be confident that West's
clubs included the 5 spot! Yet it was upon just that lowly card that the grand
The heart opening
was won with dummy's ace. With a grand slam hanging in the balance, Bea Gale
took plenty of time to analyze her chances. Eventually, she reached the same
conclusion that led Strasberg to bid seven diamonds although he was reasonably
sure he could defeat six hearts. She decided that East was void in both the
minor suits. So she did her best to put a fast one past Boris Koytchou.
Dummy's ace of
diamonds won the second trick, and a low diamond put South in with the king.
Here South led the innocent-looking 6 of clubs. Had West put on the 5, declarer
intended to let the 6 spot ride for the essential deep finesse that would have
made the contract. But Boris Koytchou is well known as an insomniac while
seated at a bridge table—especially when the contract is a grand slam. He
covered the 6 of clubs with the 7 forcing dummy's jack. Thereafter, by covering
each club led by South, West established the 5 of clubs as the thin little
trick that saved a fat bundle of points.
A two bid is best reserved for a hand which can be properly described in no
other way and with which there is danger you will be passed out if you open
with a bid of only one. Without an overwhelming share of high cards, a two bid
is seldom necessary and rarely advisable.