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   Sept. 21/99

 

JUST BRIDGE...

 

ALMOST NEVER SHALL
THE TWAIN MEET

 

by Beverly Kraft -Eric Kokish




 Back in the days when all North American bridge players were created equal, it was not uncommon for Canadian experts to compete in the major events with American team-mates. These were qualifying events for the North American Trials, conducted on a Pairs basis, the top three finishers forming the international team. This format produced some strange bedfellows. None stranger than Toronto's Eric Rutherford Murray and New York's Al Roth, who would emerge as team-mates from the Trials to select the 1967 team for the Bermuda Bowl in Miami Beach.

 During the Trials, Roth, known world-wide for his conservative initial actions, found himself in an elevator with Murray, known Canada-wide as a free spirit in this domain. Murray, a mischievous fellow by nature, decided to stir up the pot with the dogmatic Roth by initiating a discussion about this deal:

Neither side vulnerable North deals

  A Q 9 3
10 8 7 3
A J 8 6

4

K J 8 5
J 9 5 4
7

Q J 5 2

10 7 2
A 6 2
Q 4 2

K 9 8 3

  6 4
K Q
K 10 9 5 3

A 10 7 6

West North East South
  EM   SK
  1 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 4
Pass 4 Pass 5
End      


Opening Lead:
5

 "I guess you'd open a diamond with the North hand, playing five-card majors," he began. "You can't open," snapped Roth, as Murray knew he would. "Well, I opened 1
," continued Murray, "we play four-card majors, you know. We missed our slam, though. We only played in 5, making six. I thought my partner played it pretty well." At the mention of the word "slam", Roth raised an eyebrow.

 Murray's partner, Sami Kehela, finessed the
Q at trick one, crossed to the A, ruffed a club, and played a heart. East ducked so the king won and another club was ruffed. East won the second heart and played a spade. Declarer won the ace, ruffed a spade, ruffed his last club, and played dummy's last spade. East discarded, so declarer ruffed low and played a trump to the ace. Dummy had two hearts remaining, East held the Q4 and declarer the K10. With the contract guaranteed and the lead in dummy, Kehela was in a position to over-ruff East for an overtrick.

 Roth's reaction was entirely in character: "I don't know how anyone can play bridge with someone who bid that hand as badly as you." "Well, perhaps," countered Murray, "but what was your result on that one?" "We played in two diamonds, making seven," muttered Roth, as he got off on the wrong floor.