Seven lean years in world championship competition have left Americans both anxious for a win and critical of our method of selecting teams. There will be more than the usual interest, therefore, when the team that will represent the U.S. in the coming world bridge championship in Italy plays its first open-to-the-public practice match in St. Louis, March 14 and 15.
Against a St. Louis squad including last year's Vanderbilt winning team, nonplaying captain John Gerber will marshal not only his three pairs of selectees, Bobby Nail-Jim Jacoby, Robert Jordan-Arthur Robinson and Howard Schenken-Peter Leventritt, but also his alternate pair, Dave Carter of St. Louis and Gerald Michaud of Wichita, Kans. Carter is a veteran bridge campaigner, long known throughout the Midwest as a formidable competitor. He gained national renown when he won the McKenney Trophy for the top tournament performance in 1954. Michaud, just turned 33, learned to play bridge in 1950 while in college and won the national intercollegiate championship the following year.
This pair brings to the competition several exotic bids, including the one shown at right. Michaud stipulates that a double-jump takeout of partner's opening bid—like the four-heart bid here—shows a void in that suit and good support for partner's bid.
I have seen too many of these fancy bids left in by an absentminded partner, so I am not greatly impressed by such highly specialized maneuvers. However, I have no answer to the question Michaud asked when he displayed this hand: "How else can you reach seven spades?"
South, learning from the response that his heart losers were taken care of, was able to use the grand slam force. His five no-trump bid asked partner to bid seven if he held two of the three top honors in trumps. North did as commanded.
Superficially, it seems that North-South have no losers. However, it takes some careful play to bring home 13 tricks. If declarer draws two rounds of spades, he doesn't have trumps enough to take care of dummy's three remaining clubs. If he tries to cash three top diamonds and play a straight crossruff, East's ruff of the third diamond stops the grand slam.
South solved the problem with the aid of a discard that is always spectacular and sometimes absolutely necessary as well. He ruffed the club opening lead and led one round of trumps, winning in dummy with the ace. He trumped another club, then cashed the king and queen of diamonds. Next he twice ruffed hearts in dummy, while in turn ruffing dummy's two remaining club losers. With no more trumps in his hand, he led another heart. Dummy trumped and cashed the last high spade. This drew out East's remaining trump and gave South the chance he needed to discard the ace of diamonds. Dummy's jack-10 of diamonds now could win the last two tricks and bring home the grand slam.