The poolside contingent enjoyed a private joke one day during the final match. A six-club contract was being played on the viewing screen, and the commentator was Denmark's multilingual expert Alexander Koltscheff. When the declarer laid down the ace of trumps instead of taking a finesse, Koltscheff remarked, "In Sweden, the king of clubs is often bare." This time it wasn't; in fact, the player behind the ace was void of clubs. But part of the titter from the audience came from those who knew what had happened that morning at the pool. Eddie Kantar had been giving free bridge lessons to three of the girls in the American party, and for this session they rang in one of those decks with naughty pictures. When Kantar picked up his first hand he nearly fell off the chair.
The most regular visitor to the pool was Ozzie Jacoby. Every morning Ozzie would appear in his blue bathing suit, look for someone—anyone—he knew and then launch into a series of stories. "Yes," he would say, "bridge players have always been great gamesters. I remember the time P. Hal Sims and Willard Karn went to dinner. After a few minutes they decided to guess how many sugar cubes were in the bowl before them. 'No, wait,' said Sims. 'Let's have the waiter bring us a new bowl.' When the new bowl arrived, Sims guessed 33, Karn 37. They counted the cubes and there were exactly 37.
" 'Curious,' said Sims, 'I paid that waiter $5 to put 33 cubes in the bowl.'
" 'And I,' said Karn, 'paid him $10 to put in 37.' "
Jacoby has always had one of the most amazing minds in bridge. At poolside he demonstrated that he can still take a deck of cards, remove one without looking at it, go through the rest of the deck at lightning speed and then name the missing card. He likes to tell the story of the time someone bet him he couldn't drink five quick zombies and then multiply two six-figure numbers in his head. They went to a bar, where Ozzie drank the zombies, correctly multiplied his numbers and, when he started to leave, found he was too drunk to walk.
There was some speculation before the tournament began that Ozzie would not be a good captain—O.K., perhaps, when all was going well, but a disaster if the team fell behind. Because the team won so easily, the theory was never tested. There was a moment on the second day when the U.S. fell behind Nationalist China after half a match. During the intermission, Lawrence, a pleasant but curiously detached young man, said one thing, Ozzie another, and suddenly there was Ozzie chasing Lawrence down the hall. But nothing damaging was said.
On the eve of the tournament, the Swedish Bridge League made a determined effort to have its own national team included in the championship. Upset at not having the Italian Blue Team on hand to draw bridge crowds to the Foresta, the Swedes felt that only the presence of their own team would insure a financial success. But the motion was voted down. The chairman of the organizing committee, Eric Jannersten, then made a move to have bidding boxes used in the championship, so that players would not speak their bids but pull them from a box. Bidding in international competition is in English, and while the bidding-box motion was being debated, one of the U.S. party was told, "You Americans have had things your way for too long." The bidding box was finally voted down, which must have disappointed Jannersten, who happens to have the local concession.
The night of the first match, everyone was invited to Corn's suite for a light training-type meal. The Aces are not a big drinking team, but they can eat like giants, and Corn wanted his boys in shape. It was a procedure he was to follow throughout the tournament whenever the U. S. team had an evening match. The wives scurried about like Red Cross ladies, making sandwiches, pouring Cokes and trying not to look as tense as they obviously felt.
The players were far more relaxed as they reviewed their bidding systems, Jacoby with Wolff, Hamman with Lawrence, Goldman with Eisenberg. Listening to bridge players talk bridge is a little like tuning in on a foreign language for the first time. In Ira's suite and the lobby of the Foresta all week, this is the sort of thing you heard:
"Get this. I hold ace-jack fifth, 10 third, king-queen third and two small clubs. One heart from my partner, two clubs on my right. What do I bid?"