What a way to win six ungrateful friends and two undying enemies," said Margaret Wagar, the new non-playing captain of the United States Women's Team for the upcoming World Bridge Olympiad. She had been referring to her unpleasant duty, following a four-pair Trials at the Regency Club in New York last month, to select the three partnerships that would make the trip to Deauville, France in June and the one pair that would stay at home.
Though Margaret had long-experienced Oswald Jacoby as her adviser, it was a matter for Margaret to decide, and she was confronted with an embarrassment of talent. The U.S. Women's Team is an overwhelming favorite to take the Olympiad title, both on its own merits and because the 1964 champion, Great Britain, will not be defending. When the British asked the World Bridge Federation whether a team that included Terence Reese would be allowed to enter the Open Team event, the WBF ruled in the negative. Since a British hearing had found Reese and Boris Schapiro not guilty of the cheating charges (SI, June 7, 1965), the British Bridge League decided to send no teams at all. A British Open Team, with or without Reese, would have ranked as no better than third choice to take the world title, but the British ladies, with their star pair of Rixi Markus and Fritzi Gordon reunited, would have rated as at least co-favorites in their Olympiad event.
Rixi is undoubtedly the best of Europe's women players, possibly the best in the world. Her swashbuckling style, reflected in the title of her book Bid Boldly, Play Safe, puts enormous pressure on her opponents, as shown by this hand from the British ladies' last Olympiad match against the U.S. team.
In the other room the American West player bid a conservative two hearts over one heart by partner, and after North's "unusual" two-no-trump butt-in and South's three-club response, West's rebid of three hearts was passed out. At full stretch, most players would be content to jump to three hearts with West's cards the first time, but the bold-bidding Rixi went all the way to four, forcing North to trot out the unusual no trump at the four level. The resulting five-club contract was severely punished by an exact defense.
Rixi's top-card lead in hearts indicated no longer than a four-card suit, so East felt sure she would find high cards in her partner's hand. This emboldened her to lead the spade king and continue with the 4 to Rixi's ace. A third round of spades was ruffed by dummy's 9 of clubs and overruffed by East's 10. Dummy ruffed the heart continuation, and after leading a club to her ace, declarer continued spades, discarding a diamond from dummy. East ruffed, and there was no way for declarer to avoid the loss of another trump trick and a diamond.
East-West collected 900 points, which would have shown a considerable profit even if the U.S. pair had reached the makeable four-heart game at the other table. As it was, the total swing of 730 points was worth 12 IMPs and, with only five boards played, Britain's lead was boosted to 28-2. The U.S. never recovered.