Exhibition bridge matches not directly connected with national and international team championships are playing an increasingly important role in the programs of top players. Recently a powerful American team went on a three-week bridge safari to South Africa, where it swept the board in matches against seven different teams and won two other events. The Americans included Peter Pender, the 1966 McKenney winner, and five other stars with considerable world championship experience: Dorothy Hayden, B. Jay Becker, Peter Leventritt, Billy Seamon and the big man of bridge, 6-foot-7 Bill Root. Although Root stands out in any crowd—Margaret Wagar, looking vainly for her partner in a milling mob just before the beginning of a Mixed Pair Championship, once mourned, "I wish I were playing with Bill Root"—his height, his reputation as a teacher and his patience in the shadow of mercurial Alvin Roth tend to obscure the fact that he is a superb player indeed. He will play with Roth in the 1968 Olympiad.
South African observers rated this deal as the best played in the entire three weeks of bridge action:
Psychiatrist Stan Turecki and Physician David Klugman make up one of South Africa's strongest pairs, and Root had to operate against keen defense. West continued with the heart ace at trick two as the move best calculated to prevent Root from setting up dummy's diamonds. Dummy had to ruff, and Klugman overruffed, returning the 3 of clubs, which Root won with the ace.
At this point it would take a computer to calculate the combined odds on splitting the trumps, splitting the diamonds, dropping the diamond queen in two leads, making the contract even if East had started with four trumps, etc. Root had neither the time nor the computer to make such calculations, so he calmly went about playing the hand the right way to make it. He drew trumps in two leads, cashed the ace and king of diamonds and led the jack of diamonds through East, ruffing out the queen. Although he did not have a visible reentry to dummy, Root had already made the play that won the game: instead of discarding his sure club loser on dummy's diamond king he had let go a heart and had kept the 4 of clubs.
After Root had ruffed the third round of diamonds and led another trump, this was the situation:
[10 of Diamonds]
[6 of Diamonds]
[Jack of Clubs]
[10 of Clubs]
[Jack of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[7 of Clubs]