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East leads" might become headline news in the World Bridge Championship in Venice next year, thanks to an important move by the World Bridge Federation. The application of the Far East Bridge Federation to enter its champion in the competition for the Bermuda Bowl has been accepted, even though this will make the world championship a somewhat awkward five-team competition, requiring a two-week schedule instead of the present nine days.
I am all in favor of making the event truly worldwide, even though it will become more time-consuming and expensive for all the participants, especially when the Far Eastern champion hosts the event for the first time in 1970. The Far East Bridge Federation includes Australia and New Zealand, as well as Asian countries. Only Africa has no federation of its own, although three countries—Israel, Lebanon and the United Arab Republic—are members of the European Bridge League.
Who will represent the Far East in the championship next year, and what sort of account will they give of themselves? The present champion, Indonesia—which also won in 1963—will have to win again next fall to earn a trip to Venice. Last year Indonesia defeated second-place Japan to take the title—a notable achievement, since the Japanese team included two of the top Republic of China players, John Wong and C.S. Wu, who were then Japanese residents. In the interim Wong has taken up residence in the U.S., thereby weakening both of the Far Eastern teams for which he might have been eligible.
Seventeen of the 23 points by which Indonesia defeated Japan in the final round last year 71-48 came on this deal, when the Indonesian declarer brought home a slam while the Japanese player in the same contract was defeated.
The Japanese reached slam on the bidding shown. North hoped that his honors were favorably placed behind West's strength, as was suggested by West's opening bid, but in the play the Japanese declarer took the wrong approach. He ruffed the diamond in dummy, cashed the club ace, discarding a diamond, ruffed a club and ruffed another low diamond. But when he tried to ruff still another club, West overruffed, and the losing spade finesse doomed the slam.
At the other table, with no adverse bidding to guide—or misguide—him, the Indonesian South adopted a better line. He, too, ruffed the diamond in dummy, but his next play was the spade queen. The finesse lost, and a second diamond was returned to South's ace. The heart finesse succeeded, the heart ace dropped the outstanding trumps and South discarded a diamond on the club ace and ruffed a club. He ruffed his fourth diamond in dummy and trumped another club back to his hand.
South hoped that this might drop the king of clubs. That didn't happen, but something else did that was just as good. On the third club lead West had to part with a diamond. And when South then cashed his last trump, West couldn't discard successfully. If he threw a spade, dummy's fourth spade would be high. When he threw a diamond, South's 7 of diamonds became the slam-winning trick.