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The Summer National Championship is always a huge and hectic affair, with its many major titles at stake, its field of 3,000 and its nerve-straining 12 consecutive days of competition that leave players as limp as a year-old deck of cards. But by the time the competition for the biggest of all the titles, The Masters Knockout Team event for the Spingold Trophy, ended in Minneapolis last week, I had good reason to feel this had been the weirdest Nationals in years. My partner was made ill by a spider bite, I fell in a bathtub and broke a rib, and my team still had the Spingold all but won until a grand slam was set by an improbable 5-and-1 trump break.
The first days of the Spingold competition were filled with upsets as other top-seeded teams seemed to get beat as fast as they sat down at a table.
But my team, Helen Sobel, Howard Schenken, Peter Leventritt, Bill Root, John Gerber and I, had matters all our own way. It takes two losses to knock a team out of the Spingold, and we were still undefeated with only two matches to go. The first was against a team of Edwin Kantar, Marshall Miles, Ivar Stakgold and Leonard Harmon. It was here we had one of two slam hands that could have turned the results around:
[8 of Spades]