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When Culbertson's man outsmarted himself
Charles Goren
November 07, 1966
The members of the International Bridge Press Association took an illegal action recently when they voted the 1965 Book of the Year award to a volume that was published in 1964. Yet I am sure the move will bring no protests, because the chosen book was Morehead on Bidding, and such an award was long overdue for a man who brought so much credit and honor to the game.
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November 07, 1966

When Culbertson's Man Outsmarted Himself

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The members of the International Bridge Press Association took an illegal action recently when they voted the 1965 Book of the Year award to a volume that was published in 1964. Yet I am sure the move will bring no protests, because the chosen book was Morehead on Bidding, and such an award was long overdue for a man who brought so much credit and honor to the game.

The late Albert Morehead might have become known as one of the world's best players had he not chosen to stay in the shadow of Ely Culbertson by serving as his business manager. He eventually became so well known as bridge editor of The New York Times that few people are aware of the exploits that originally brought him to the attention of Culbertson. Morehead, whose recent death was a major loss to the bridge world, was a brilliant player on several Culbertson teams, including the one that defeated the English champions for the Schwab Cup in 1934. As the Culbertson empire grew, Ely found he had to have somebody to run it for him, and for a 10% interest Morehead accepted. It was an enviable job, but it took so much attention that Morehead's career as a top tournament player had to end. Here, to illustrate Morehead's skill, is a hand I like from that early era, one that was played in a bridge club event that offered a powerful Depression-days incentive to win—cash.

Morehead was naturally disappointed when he saw the dummy, but he just shook his head a little, the only way I ever saw him express displeasure. East won the first trick with the ace of clubs and returned the 3. Morehead disdained the finesse with the king of clubs and then, instead of attacking a suit of his own—which would have been normal in a no-trump contract—he exited with the jack of clubs. West won the club queen and 10, while dummy discarded two spades and declarer discarded a heart.

West was now in trouble. He led the 4 of hearts, and Morehead captured East's king with the ace. Next came the diamond ace, and when West dropped the 10, Morehead reasoned it was from the K-10, because he felt that with jack-10 alone West might have shifted to a diamond when he was on lead rather than to a heart. So Morehead led the diamond 9, forcing West to play his king and at the same time setting up the 8 as a board entry.

West was in trouble again. Whether he led a heart or a spade, he would give declarer an extra trick. A heart would have worked out better, but that seemed a poor lead because of South's opening bid, so West tried a low spade, which dummy won with the queen. Morehead then cashed the spade ace and the diamond queen and crossed to dummy by overtaking the diamond 7 with dummy's 8. This fourth round of diamonds put West in difficulty for the third time. He had been able to spare one spade on the third diamond, but the fourth lead forced him to part with a small heart, blanking his jack.

Morehead then led a heart, went up with his queen to drop the jack and made the game-winning trick with the 10 of hearts for a superb top score. It was one top too many however, for at the end of this session Morehead was so far ahead that the rest of the field did not turn up for the finals of the tournament and the bridge club refused to pay the purse money. Instead, it hired Morehead.

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