For years it has been presumed that New York was the bridge capital of the U.S. The presumptuous ones, I am afraid, were New Yorkers, for last week eight Angelenos produced some rather convincing credentials of their own. Never once behind during the 80-board match in Los Angeles, they upset favored New York in the first intercity tournament for the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED trophy and, temporarily at least, the title of capital rests in their city.
The two teams will meet again in New York this November, and if Los Angeles continues to play the strong bridge it displayed on the Pacific Coast there will be no city to dispute its claim—unless it is Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, or Dallas- Fort Worth. All have challenged the winner and nobody knows where it will stop. Peoria, perhaps?
The title may, of course, go right back to New York. There were a few moments in Los Angeles when it appeared that it would never leave. True, the Los Angeles team of Lew Mathe, Meyer Schleifer, Ira Rubin, Ivan Erdos, Oliver Adams, William Hanna, Harold Guiver and Edwin Kantar got off to a magnificent lead. After 20 boards it had 40 International Match Points to New York's 19. After 40 boards the lead was increased to 60-38, and after 60, the three-quarter point, it was 89-61.
But suddenly things began to happen. Trailing by 115-81, the New Yorkers—Mrs. Helen Sobel, Peter Leventritt, Howard Schenken, Tobias Stone, George Rapee, John Crawford, Alfred Sheinwold and Edgar Kaplan—won 1 IMP on the 75th board. (They could have made 6 if it had not been for an overenthusiastic slam bid.) Los Angeles, to the increasing discomfort of their 400 followers at the Ambassador Hotel, never won another point. On the 76th, New York gained 4. Then along came board 77 and the only grand slam of the match.
Crawford's opening two-club bid was artificial and showed a big hand. Stone's three no-trump response indicated close to a maximum pass, including strength in all four suits. Therefore, after Stone raised diamonds, Crawford felt reasonably sure that he would find enough in spades and hearts to take care of all his possible losers. Another factor that obviously governed Crawford's thinking was the score. He knew his side had to pick up a flock of points in a hurry or resign itself to defeat. He didn't hesitate to bid the grand slam.
At the other table South for Los Angeles had opened with only one diamond and in spite of North's two no-trump response stopped at six diamonds. As a result, New York gained 750 points for 7 IMPs.
New York pared away 3 more IMPs on board 78, 4 on board 79, and 6 on the final board of the match. But for New York it was a case of too little and too late. The Pacific Coast stars staggered to victory with the final score 115 to 106.
A fascinated capacity audience (1,600 saw the four sessions) followed the home team with avid and partisan interest, but the crowd was generous with its applause of the New Yorkers' defense in the following deal.
East-West vulnerable North dealer