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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In taking up this very pleasant assignment, I have realized a lifelong ambition. At a time when most lads yearn to grow up to be cops, I was seized with a burning desire to become a sportswriter, an urge which grew almost irresistible when it became apparent that I lacked the talent to become a successful competitor.
Up to now, the closest I ever came was when I was a student at McGill University (where, some while later, four young ladies were to lure me into my very first game of bridge). I had been assigned to cover one of the important hockey matches of the season. My selection for this task was of doubtful wisdom, for I had never before seen so much as a single chukker of ice polo.
I have a vague recollection of treating the spectacle as though it were the Easter Parade, but I was disappointed when a painstaking perusal of the next editions failed to reveal a trace of my masterpiece in the sports columns or anywhere else. When I summoned up courage to inquire if my story was bad, the editor was consoling. "Not bad at all, Goren. In fact, it was reasonably good," he soothed, "even though it had no relationship to hockey."
In recent years I have tried to scramble onto the sports page by pointing out to hardheaded sports editors that bridge has its heroes and its goats, its rabid rooters and its second-guessing quarterbacks, plus a fierce competitive element equal to that found in more active sports. They continued to report doings at the billiard table, the ping-pong table, even the chess table—but the bridge table? No, that would be carrying things too far.
At last, using the gifted pen of Somerset Maugham as a springboard, I am about to hurdle the long-standing barrier that has kept contract bridge off the sports page where it really belongs. I confess to a bit of stage fright, but I intend to write about bridge as a sport and expect to report anything which I believe the reader will find diverting.
Occasionally we shall dig into our personal archives for an unpublished hand of the nature of the one shown today. It was a perpetration of Hal Sims, who, despite his 300 pounds, could afford to play high-stake golf in a foursome with three professionals provided they would in turn play a few rubbers of high-stake bridge. The story has been filed under the caption "The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye." The tournament involving this hand—a National Championship at Asbury Park, New Jersey—produced an offstage sensation in the shape of a bout of fisticuffs between Sims and another of the game's top-weights.
To a bridge player there is one thing more frustrating than bidding a grand slam in no trump lacking an ace. That is to hold an ace against a no-trump grand slam and never win a trick with it. In this remarkable deal East was victimized by Sims's neat bit of hocus-pocus. But he first fell victim to his own greed.
[Ace of Spades]