A pitcher who once did an occasional job of low-bridging enemy batters found himself in high bridge circles for the first time at the recent Lone Star Sectional tournament in Houston and gave a pretty good account of himself. Dizzy Dean, fabulous fast baller of the 1930s and now a fast-talking fracturer of the English language in his popular baseball telecasts, added his name to the list of baseball stars whose bridge exploits have made news—a group that includes Jim Bunning, Stu Miller and Wes Parker.
It wasn't Dean's first experience with duplicate; he had played on occasion in Wiggins, Miss., but this was his first outing in big-time bridge. Ol' Diz made his debut a memorable one by finishing sixth in a field of 148 in the Mixed Pair championship, winding up the evening by bringing home a redoubled contract against a pair of Life Masters, who. quite understandably, prefer to remain anonymous. Since bridge players live in a little world of their own, Diz went virtually unrecognized until the event was over. But his lone kibitzer happened to be Bob Stucker, who is coauthor of a forthcoming book which deals with a system called, coincidentally. The Big Diamond. "Technically," reports Bob, "Diz is a better pitcher than a bridge player. But, as in everything he ever did, he sure is interesting to watch."
"We're not vulnerable, are we?" Diz had asked after he had been doubled by East. His partner, Mrs. Mathews, is a Life Master and a frequent tournament director and scorer. She is also a most ethical player, so she hid her alarm when she replied truthfully, "No."
"Well, then," continued Diz, "I'm goin' to redouble."
Three cheerful passes ended the auction—although North did gulp a little.
West led the king of diamonds and made the helpful shift to the jack of hearts. The lead rode around to declarer's king and, forgetting for the moment about the need to draw trumps, Diz fired back the 8 of hearts, ducked around to East's ace.
In a desperate attempt to get a heart ruff. East underled his ace of spades but this gallant effort failed. Diz ruffed, cashed the ace of clubs and continued with the queen. West won with the king and dutifully led back a heart for East to ruff, but it was too late. East had no more trumps. Diz lost a heart trick later, but he made his redoubled contract.
Luckily for the opponents, the scoring was at match points, where you can't get worse than a zero. At total points or International Match Points, the loss would have been astronomical. All over the room East and West were making four spades—and in many cases they were making it doubled. North's five trumps against the spade contract were only slightly embarrassing to West as declarer. The singleton-club opening brought North a second-round club ruff. But when North exited with a heart, declarer took the trick with East's ace, led a trump to the queen, then played three rounds of diamonds. A fourth diamond was ruffed in West's hand. West cashed the king of spades and led another round and East's ace-jack cleaned up the suit. The fifth diamond was declarer's 10th trick and he lost a heart at the end.