From time to time between now and the world bridge championships in February, Mr. Goren will introduce various members of the contesting U.S. and Italian teams. This article on the U.S. team captain is the first of the series.
If you are surprised that we begin with a man who will not actually play, you are underestimating the importance of the captain's role in international bridge. Lack of team discipline has been one of the reasons for our four consecutive defeats at the hands of Europe's champions. Until now, the nonplaying captaincy has been an honorary job, but this year the captain will exercise greater power. In the hands of a player with a background of personal experience such as this Philadelphian, who was an active member of our 1956 international team, the supervision of team training and selection of the partnerships should be of tremendous help to our chances. Here's an example of Solomon's partnership judgment from last month's Bermuda tournament.
In this deal Solomon held the North hand. He was partnered by his wife Peggy, with whom he captured two of the Bermuda events. They are, without question, the most successful husband-and-wife pair ever to play in U.S. tournaments—Exhibit A for the affirmative whenever bridge experts debate the question "Should husband and wife play as partners?" Few partnerships of any kind can match the Solomons' record for long duration or for successful results. The reason, as it must be in any successful partnership, is that each accepts full responsibility for his side of the table.
The entire story of this deal lies in the bidding. First came South's bid of two no trump—obviously "unusual" since West had opened with a no-trump bid and therefore clearly a call for North to choose between the two minor suits.
When the bidding came to North, he never considered mentioning his stronger spade suit. Partner had asked for a minor. Furthermore, he took all the strain off South by bidding not merely four clubs but five.
It is instructive to follow the reasoning that lay behind this two-way bid. South's unusual no-trump almost certainly was based on a hand of at least five cards in each minor. From the opponents' bidding, it was reasonable to expect that South would be very short in hearts. North's spade king behind the no-trump bidder promised a maximum of one loser in spades if North-South played the hand. His singleton in diamonds was a perfect fit with South's second suit. And he held not four clubs (or even three, as might have been the case) but five.
Finally—and this was the consideration that made five clubs a two-way bid—if South didn't have the two aces that would insure making five clubs, East and West would probably have a fine play for game at hearts and the five-club bid would be a paying sacrifice.
There was nothing to the play. East opened a spade. West won and played ace and another trump to try to cut down the power of the cross-ruff, but North was sure to make his contract whether he elected to establish the spades or the diamonds.
Whenever you are responding to a take-out double, make the bid that will take the strain off partner. Even if you sometimes overbid slightly by making a jump response, you will show a profit in the end on the hands where partner can pass your nonjump response instead of risking a dangerous chance-giving raise.