The International Bridge Press Association recently announced its choice of Andr� Lemaitre of Belgium as the winner of the 1973 Goren award, designating him the bridge Man of the Year. And who is Lemaitre? While working with the U.S. Army in Germany after World War II, he reintroduced contract bridge and helped organize the German Bridge Federation. He writes a bridge column for a leading Belgian newspaper, contributes to various bridge magazines, serves as an officer of the World Bridge Federation, is chief of the bridge laws committee in Belgium, undertook to organize the record-breaking 1973 European Bridge Championship and, during that tournament, was elected president of the European Bridge League. At the same time he has been more formally occupied as a director of a company that designs and oversees fire-prevention systems for new high-rise buildings in Belgium.
On the occasion of his award I asked Lemaitre to recall for me one of his best hands. "In my 30-year bridge career, I must have played one hand magnificently, but I remember only the bad ones," he replied. Whereupon he cited this deal from the 1957 German Open Team Championship, one of the numerous tournaments he has won. Before reading on, you may wish to cover the East-West cards and decide how you as South would play to make six diamonds against a heart opening—even though neither the German team nor Lemaitre's reached this stimulating contract.
When the Germans held the North-South cards they were playing a variation of the Vienna Club System. West turned to North after the opening bid shown in the diagram and said, "I am going to pass, but what is the meaning of the two-no-trump bid?" North answered, "It announces a very strong hand and is a forcing bid. And I pass!"
South won the heart opening, cashed five diamond tricks and led the ace and another club. East won dummy's jack with the king and knocked out declarer's remaining high heart. South was then able to cash his club queen and spade ace to make four no trump, but since he had bid only two it appeared to South that the loss of the game bonus of 300 points would be costly to the German team. "And," South gloomed, "I could even have made a small slam in diamonds."
Do you see how? Assuming the same heart opening (nothing else is better for the defense), South wins, draws the opposing trumps and leads the queen of clubs! If East refuses to win, declarer cashes the club ace, ruffs a club in dummy and takes a winning spade finesse, giving up one spade trick at the end. Alternatively, if East wins the queen of clubs with the king, he sets up dummy's jack as an entry. Now declarer can successfully finesse the 10 of spades, return to the table by trumping his ace of clubs and take another spade finesse to bring home the slam.
Alas, the German team had no need to worry. When Lemaitre picked up North's assortment of garbage as the dealer at the other table, he decided on a psychic bid. He opened one diamond, which in his methods would show a hand of 10 to 12 points. But it was his partner's psyche that suffered. She bid six no trump, got the same heart lead and made the same 10 tricks that were collected at the other table, for a loss of 100 points.
"What should I have done?" she asked Lemaitre. "I thought you had 10 points."
"In that case," Lemaitre sheepishly replied, "I think you should have bid seven no trump and gone down three."