[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
In that last line lies the mystery of the tournament. How could the second-favored team, captained by Lee Hazen and including Edgar Kaplan-Norman Kay, Lew Mathe-Don Krauss and Richard Walsh-John Swanson, finish so poorly? Hazen's wry explanation was, "We started off badly. After that our game fell off."
In trouble from the start, the Hazen team never shook off whatever hex China's dragons had cast. In the first session Swanson-Walsh were overwhelmed by a series of devastating experiences. To begin, they mistook the starting time and barely escaped a tardiness penalty. Then, play had hardly begun when a phone rang. An official picked it up and commanded, "No calls." Nevertheless, the phone rang again and again, and concentration was shattered. Meanwhile, Walsh and Swanson, having bid to a good contract, suddenly discovered that dummy had 14 cards—a mistake on the part of the recording staff, so no penalty was exacted. Then Walsh passed out of turn—one of 10 such mishaps because only the Chinese players were familiar with the markings of the leather wallets in which the hands were held. Still later these same unfamiliar wallets were responsible for the Hazenites making 25 hearts on the same deal. Walsh and Swanson bid six hearts, making seven. The cards were then somehow switched, and on the replay their teammates also bid six hearts and just made it. No other pair at the other four tables bid the slam, but of course the board was thrown out and in the ensuing confusion no substitute was ever replayed.
The Aussies, given an outside shot at the finals, did not quite make it, although they set several records of their own, including use of the first husband-wife pair in championship play—Jim and Norma Borin. Borin invariably says, "Thank you, darling," when his wife tables the dummy. The other Aussies sometimes employ the same words when partner puts down a dummy that is rather less than expected.
The French proved formidable, with Pierre Ja�s and Roger Tr�zel, three-time world champions, returning to action, backed by Henri Svarc with Jean Michel Boulenger and Jean-Marc Roudinesco with Jean-Louis Stoppa. In the qualifying rounds they beat the Aces twice, and were unbeaten in their first match against each of the other teams. For a while they led the field, so although the Aces were favored in the finals, they were no shoo-in.
The first 16 deals of the 128-board final produced some of the best bridge of the tournament. The Aces, with Eisenberg and Hamman resting, narrowly outpointed France's feared foursome of Ja�s-Tr�zel and Svarc-Boulenger 16-9. The Aces took command in the second half of the session, however, scoring 55 IMPs to 18 for a 44-IMP lead. France rallied several times thereafter, cutting the Aces' margin to less than 30 during each of the last three quarters, but lost it all back on each occasion before the session ended.
It was a weary band of bridge pilgrims that left Taipei, the players exhausted from 12 full days of competition and everyone worn to a frazzle by that unsolved mystery of the Orient: what is Room Service bringing next?