It sounded like Monopoly. The site was Boardwalk at Illinois, and the players frequently found themselves on Atlantic or Pacific Avenue or one of a dozen other of the familiar thoroughfares of Atlantic City, N.J. Indeed, their ultimate aim was to break an Italian monopoly—on the Bermuda Bowl. But the game was bridge, and the stakes included a free trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next spring as members of the six-man team that will try to stop Italy's Squadra Azzura from taking that bowl for the 10th successive time.
Thirty-two of this continent's leading players had assembled for the annual International Team Trials event that selects a North American bridge squad to represent us in the World Championships. At the end of the grueling 10-day event, the three top pairs were George Rap�e and Sidney Lazard, Billy Eisenberg and Bobby Goldman, Edwin Kan-tar and Bob Hamman. Together, they provide nonplaying Captain Oswald Jacoby with a happy blend of youth and experience to face the Blue Team.
Rap�e and Lazard were magnificent throughout the Trials and deserved their victory, but unlike Goldman-Eisenberg, both of Dallas, and Hamman-Kantar of Los Angeles, they are separated by the 1,200 miles between New York and New Orleans and cannot play together often. The result is that they sometimes have a misunderstanding like the one that, fortunately, worked to their advantage in the deal shown.
This was a case of too many cue bids. Lazard was conservative when he bid only one spade in response to Rap�e's takeout double. Consequently, when North cue-bid in diamonds South jumped in spades to show a maximum holding for his initial one-spade response. When North next bid clubs, South's singleton heart loomed as a tremendous asset, so he cue-bid in turn. If West hadn't doubled four diamonds, North would no doubt have bid four hearts, South five clubs and a reasonable six-club contract might have been reached. But when North passed the double and South cue-bid in hearts, Rap�e—not unreasonably—thought that his side had found its spot.
He was right—but for an odd reason. Two other declarers managed to go down at four-spade contracts after misguessing the location of the spade queen. But four hearts, played from the singleton side of the table, was ironclad. South won West's diamond continuation with the king, took a winning club finesse, cashed the club ace, drew three rounds of trumps and took stock. He couldn't continue clubs because East could ruff the third club and continue diamonds, forcing dummy's last trump while West still retained a fourth trump as an entry to his good diamonds. So he cashed dummy's spade ace, led to the king and dropped the queen and continued with good spades, forcing West to use his trump first. East could also make a trump trick later, but only when he didn't have a diamond left to lead.
To Captain Jacoby, this hand probably wasn't as funny as it is to us. But Lazard and Rap�e will take a month off to practice before the World Championship so that a similar misunderstanding doesn't occur in Brazil.