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The old-fashioned precept that children should be seen and not heard is no longer in vogue—more's the pity—but last week in Los Angeles two brothers, 15 and 16, applied this commendable rule to bridge and got results that devastated their elders. By sensing when to be quiet and pass, David and William Crossley of Greenbrae, Calif. came within a scant half-point of winning the largest single-session bridge championship ever played. Competing in the charity pairs event at the Summer Nationals, they finished second in a field of 1,984 that included such famed bridge masters as Tobias Stone, Sidney Lazard, Ira Rubin, David Carter and General Alfred M. Gruenther. What is more, the margin that kept them from defeating the eventual winners, Mrs. Frank Aydelotte and Mrs. Harold W. Devine of Colorado, could not have been narrower.
The Crossley boys began learning bridge from their parents when Bill was 12, and much of their remarkable ability can be attributed to attentive listening as their mother, who is a life master, taught her own bridge class in Greenbrae. The brothers had come to the Summer Nationals for two purposes: first, to play in a special teen event; and, second, to serve as "caddies," those messengers who are used at big bridge tournaments to pick up score slips at each table and rush them to the scoring room for tabulation. When the tournament for teen-agers was cancelled, Bill and David had nothing to do but caddie. It was then that they decided to enter the big charity game. Lots of the experts now feel it would have been an even bigger act of charity if the brothers had stayed home.
"The thing we learned here is how important it is to pass," said David, and though their play is very sound and their bidding pleasingly simple, what the boys did best in the charity game was not bid. At left is a crucial hand in which they attained a top score, thanks to a key pass by Bill.
Bill played the club 6 on the opening lead, encouraging a continuation, so Dave laid down the ace, which South ruffed. South led a heart, won by Bill, who shifted to a trump. Dave took the queen and ace of spades, then threw South on lead with a third round of trumps. South didn't have much to hope for except that the ace-king of hearts would fall, so he continued that suit. Bill won and led a low diamond, giving Dave two diamond winners. All together, South lost two spades, four hearts, two diamonds and a club trick, going down five for a 900 penalty.
Much the same thing happened in another hand, and again it was Bill whose silence was golden.
Bill thought a long time before he passed the two-heart bid with the East hand, but finally did, in an attempt to collect a penalty. Declarer won the opening lead with dummy's spade ace and led the spade 2, preparing to ruff a spade in dummy. Dave won this with the 10 and returned the diamond 7. Bill captured the jack with the queen and returned his club 9. Dave took the ace, gave his partner a club ruff and overruffed the third round of diamonds with his heart jack after East had cashed the diamond ace. Bill still had a trump trick, so South suffered a 200-point penalty, which is usually disastrous in duplicate bridge.
There is a lesson to be learned in this, regardless of your age: frequently the best bid that you can possibly make is no bid at all.