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A perfect partner makes a perfect play
Charles Goren
November 08, 1965
It is possible to become famous in tournament bridge more for being somebody's partner than for your own play. This frequently happens when partnerships are long established and the senior player in the pairing was well known before the junior member came along. One example of this is the case of Sammy Kehela, 31, a young man who may well be quite as talented as his frequent partner, Eric Murray, although Murray is generally regarded as Canada's best player.
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November 08, 1965

A Perfect Partner Makes A Perfect Play

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It is possible to become famous in tournament bridge more for being somebody's partner than for your own play. This frequently happens when partnerships are long established and the senior player in the pairing was well known before the junior member came along. One example of this is the case of Sammy Kehela, 31, a young man who may well be quite as talented as his frequent partner, Eric Murray, although Murray is generally regarded as Canada's best player.

Born in Iraq, Kehela does not quite succeed in concealing his sensitive nature behind a facade of wry wit and bellicosity. He learned to play bridge in London, but it was not until he emigrated to Canada that he began to gain attention as the man who sits across the table from Eric Murray. He once noted in a questionnaire under "personal achievements" that he had "played bridge with Eric Murray for four years and retained my sanity," and another time when asked to list his favorite partners he put down only one, Murray. He has twice helped coach the North American team in the World Championships and has been on the team that won the Masters Knockout Championship in 1964 and 1965. He and Murray will be among the favorites to gain a place on the North American team that will compete in the World Championship when the Trials are played in San Francisco later this month.

The Murray-Kehela partnership almost defeated the U.S. in the semifinal match of the World Bridge Olympiad in 1964, losing by a margin of only 16 points—which included a 5-IMP penalty for tardiness. This week's hand is from that match. It shows Kehela at his coolest in making a doubled contract, one that had set Canadian rooters in the audience groaning aloud when it was bid.

The raise for his heart suit was all that Kehela needed to hear; he jumped to game over East's takeout double, both because he expected to make it and because he wanted to shut out the possibility of an East-West spade bid. But he still had to time the hand perfectly in order to make it, even after a slight slip on the part of the East defender.

After winning the diamond queen, West continued the suit, and South ruffed. It now seemed that declarer was doomed to defeat in sure losers: a diamond already lost, the ace of spades, the ace of hearts and another trump in West's hand, since South already had one less trump than West. If South had set about establishing his clubs immediately, leading three rounds and ruffing in dummy, he would have been defeated. East would make his spade ace and lead another diamond—whether high or low would not matter—and West would either make a trump trick then and there or would discard a spade, assuming that South trumped the diamond.

But Kehela's first play was the king of spades. East ducked this trick, and declarer continued spades, finessing dummy's 10-spot to drive out East's ace. East failed to foresee the need for a diamond continuation. Instead he shifted to a club. Declarer won, cashed a second club and ruffed a club in dummy. He discarded a club on the spade queen and ruffed a spade in his hand. Whether West over-ruffed or not, he could not prevent declarer from ruffing his last club in dummy and making his contract. The only trump trick South lost was West's ace.

Meanwhile, in the other room Canada played four diamonds with the East-West cards, going down two tricks for minus 200. The net gain to Canada was 590 points, worth 11 IMPs.

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