Once one of contract's "boy wonders," Sam Fry Jr. won his first national championship when he was only 23. That was back in 1932. Today, he is one of the three seasoned veterans on our U.S. team that will meet Italy and Argentina for the World Championship in matches to be played at New York's Statler Hilton Hotel, beginning February 7.
Fry is a good partner for Harry Fishbein, with whom he will be paired throughout in our new scheme of playing the team as three fixed partnerships. He is sound and steady—but he is also brilliant in his own right, as convincingly shown by the following hand, which is both famous and his favorite.
Fry and Fishbein use an artificial two-club bid to show a big hand; to them all other two bids are weak. North's two-diamond response announced weakness; South's two-heart bid showed his best suit; North's two no-trump bid was discouraging. South's three-club bid announced a second suit, and when North raised it was apparent that he must hold some distributional values causing him to prefer to reach for the game at clubs. This might have included a singleton heart, but South figured that at worst the six-club bid would hinge on a successful finesse in hearts.
A spade opening would have cooked South's goose, but West elected to lead a low diamond, giving Fry the opportunity for a highly deceptive play. Without any long huddle, he played dummy's queen of diamonds! East played the king, and Fry won the trick.
He entered dummy at once by leading to the club jack, taking only one trump lead in order to insure that East would have no opportunity to signal with a high spade. Then he finessed the heart 10. West took with the king and "cashed" the jack of diamonds for the setting trick. Only, of course, it didn't cash. South ruffed, drew the remaining trumps and discarded all of dummy's spades on his good hearts. North was able to trump declarer's spade 10 for the trick that won the slam.
Playing against expert opponents (the hand was dealt in a national pair championship), it is obvious ex post facto that the queen play from dummy is the only one that affords any chance to fool the opponents. It wouldn't work if East did not hold the king—but then neither would anything else. If dummy played low, whatever East played to force the ace would reveal that declarer could not hold the jack or the 10. So if West held the king of diamonds, he would not be naive enough to try to cash it when declarer had made no attempt to capture the first trick with dummy's queen. It would be obvious that South held a singleton, and the killing shift to a spade would be automatic.
Telling about the hand, Sam admits he was disappointed when his partner failed to congratulate him.
"But Fishy did better than that," Sam adds. "He started buttonholing people. When the game ended, no fewer than 10 players rushed up to congratulate me."
Maybe that's another reason why Fishbein and Fry have the kind of partnership that can turn a Cinderella team into—let's hope—1959's world champions.
When all the contestants are capable of correct play, the difference between winning and losing can be the ability to play deceptively.