While thousands of bridge players were breaking every kind of attendance record at the Summer Nationals in Chicago last month, four Canadians set a different kind of record in the battle for the Spingold Trophy, emblematic of the Masters Knockout Team championship. The same four players who took the title last year in Toronto—a barrister of Scottish descent, a bridge teacher and coach who had been born in Iran, a veteran flyer of World War II and a lifetime sufferer from cerebral palsy—successfully defended their championship. This was the first time in the 32-year history of the Spingold Trophy competition that the same team had won two years in a row.
Most of the 128 teams entered (the largest entry ever to play in a knockout team event) consisted of five or six players; Canada's Eric Murray, Sammy Kehela, Percy Sheardown and Bruce Elliott decided that four players were enough, just as they had the year before when they went through 11 rounds of play without defeat. In Chicago they were still undefeated when they reached the finals and had to face the powerful team of Edgar Kaplan and B. Jay Becker of New York, Norman Kay of Philadelphia and Mrs. Dorothy Hayden of Hastings-on-Hudson. That the Canadians would remain undefeated through an unprecedented 16th straight knockout match became inevitable by the time the finals were a quarter completed. The Murray team had taken a big lead over Kaplan's team, 37-12, and then came the tenth board of the session (left), in my opinion the board that decided the match then and there.
In the closed room, where the board first was played, Elliott, sitting West, passed at his first opportunity but leaped to four clubs when Sheardown made a somewhat light double of Kaplan's opening diamond bid. This was doubled and set 500 when the defense collected the first five tricks: two diamonds, a diamond ruff, a spade and a heart. But what seemed like a sure Canadian loss was turned into a profit as the crowd watching Bridge-O-Rama witnessed the following action:
( Mrs. Hayden)