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It has been years since the U.S. has made as good a showing in international competition as it did in the recent World Olympiad Pairs events in Amsterdam. For a time it even seemed that American players might capture all three of the major titles. Mrs. Jules Farell and Ivan Erdos of Los Angeles got the U.S. off to an excellent start by winning the Mixed Pair title. Then Mrs. John Gruver and Mrs. David Sachs of Baltimore led the qualifying rounds of the Women's Pairs by a wide margin, and Dr. John Fisher and young Jim Jacoby of Dallas were in front going into the final round of the Open Pairs.
In the end, however, the Dutch stars, Bob Slavenburg and Hans Kreyns, edged the Texans for the Open Pair title, and Jane Juan and Joan Durran of Britain took the women's event by a narrow margin over Mrs. Gruver and Mrs. Sachs. Still, the U.S. performance was excellent. B. Jay Becker and Dorothy Hayden finished third for the U.S. in the Open Pairs, and Mrs. Farell teamed with Peggy Solomon to finish third in the Women's Pairs.
Mrs. Farell's performance was excellent. Here she is at her best in a hand played with Erdos in the Mixed Pairs.
With 15 points, bolstered by a couple of 10-spots, South just could squeeze out a no trump opening, and her choice of that call gave her side an initial advantage. Many of the pairs in the field were using a weak no trump opening—their maximum high-card strength was 14 points—and were compelled to open the South hand with one chub. North would respond with one spade, and the contract for the spade game would be played from the wrong side of the table in that against East's normal opening lead of the diamond queen, North had little or no chance. (A double finesse in clubs would succeed, but playing for a heart break was mathematically sounder, and declarer could not maneuver so as to fall back on the club play after discovering the bad break in hearts.)
Mrs. Farell handled the play flawlessly from the South seat, in spite of the threatening opening of the 2 of spades from West, which made it essential for her to ruff two losing clubs in dummy before the defenders could get in and play two more rounds of trumps. She won the spade, cashed the top cards, ruffed a club in dummy and returned to her hand with the queen of hearts. When she played her last club, West had to retain a safe exit card, so he discarded a low diamond.
Dummy ruffed, and the trump king was led to West's ace. Now West used the heart exit card and locked the lead in dummy. It was tempting—but it would have been fatal—to lead up to the diamond king in hopes of finding the ace on side. The king would have fallen to West, a diamond would have put East in, and a third lead of hearts would have let West score the setting trick via a ruff.
Instead, Mrs. Farell calmly led another high heart and offered West the choice of ruffing and leading a diamond to establish South's king or of discarding and giving declarer a chance to ruff a fourth heart in her hand and draw West's last trump. Either way, the contract was sure to make.