South opened the 9 of spades, covered by dummy's 10, and North's king forced declarer's ace. Of course Forquet immediately tackled the clubs, leading the jack from his hand. But when South followed with the 7, Forquet committed the indiscretion of letting the jack ride. North won with the king and returned a spade, killing East's immediate re-entry while the high clubs remained in dummy to block the run of that suit. Before Forquet could get back to his hand, the defenders were able to win two hearts, two spades and the king of diamonds; added to the king of clubs, that was enough to set the hand one trick.
There was nothing wrong with leading the jack of clubs; even a finesse would have been permissible if the suit had been unblocked by covering the jack with the queen. The defenders then would be unable to keep East from regaining the lead in time to run four clubs, two spades and, with a successful finesse, two diamond tricks. Making the contract would have scored 120, holding a tie in IMPs against the 130 which Great Britain scored by making four clubs at the other table. Going down one trick, however, cost a total swing of 230, worth four IMPs.
It turned out Italy could well afford the loss. The English, who had played superbly earlier, fell sadly apart against Italy and France. While no one member of the English team was to blame, Boris Schapiro, suffering from the effects of a severe attack of turista, was far off form, especially by comparison with the magnificent display which he and Terence Reese had put on in the early rounds, when Great Britain won her first 10 matches.
A healthy Schapiro would never have been guilty of the error which Boris Schapiro made in the following deal from the match against France, placing that country second ahead of Great Britain. I cite the deal because it includes a simple point all players should consider.
The bidding was identical at both tables, and so was the opening lead of the king of spades.
In the other room declarer simply held up the ace of spades until the third round of the suit, then led a low club to dummy's queen. East took his ace and the defenders got another spade, but declarer then had nine tricks. When Schapiro played it, however, he took the second spade trick; then, fearing that the opener might hold five spades, he tried to run nine tricks by winning a heart finesse. When this lost, he was down one for a total point loss of 700, or 6 IMPs.
Why did the French declarer play the club to establish his ninth trick rather than rely on the heart finesse? True, he would have lost the contract if West had had the ace of clubs and five spades—but he could not win it under these conditions unless West also had the king of hearts. Since West had passed initially, this was entirely impossible; in fact, the ace of clubs was pretty well marked in East's hand, making the contract a laydown as long as South held off the spades until the third round.
At least one match every day was shown on the Bridge-O-Rama—an electrically operated device for letting large audiences follow the bidding and play. The exhibitions were well attended and I have reason to know that the audience had no trouble following the play as shown on the board. I was invited to serve as commentator after the first few matches. Since I spoke only in English—and I frequently have trouble describing the exotic French and Italian systems even in my own language—obviously the fact that I was urged to continue through the meet must be credited in large part to the excellent portrayal of events provided by the Bridge-O-Rama itself.
One of the hands I described during the match between Great Britain and Italy illustrates the fact that both the Neapolitan Club and the Roman Club can, upon occasion, operate less than flawlessly. Unfortunately, the British did not take full advantage of their opportunity.
Two of the Italian pairs—Giorgio Belladonna and Walter Avarelli, and the new pair, Roberto Bianchi and Giancarlo Manca—play the Roman Club. This method calls for an opening bid of one club on any of three different types of hand: a balanced hand of 12-16 points or 21-26 points, or an unbalanced hand that is the equivalent of our strong two-bid. The opener's first rebid clarifies the nature of his strength. In this case, of course, Belladonna's club opening was the scratchiest of minimums.