Board 65

Author: Larry Cohen
Date of publish: 01/03/2009
Level: Intermediate

George & Edith Rosenkranz

The strangest tournament of my bridge career was the Washington D.C. Nationals, way back in 1984. My Spingold Captain, George Rosenkranz received the horrendous news that his wife, Edith, had been kidnapped. This happened the night of our Round of 16 match.

Obviously, George couldn't continue to play. He worked with the FBI; a few days passed and Edith was thankfully recovered unharmed (and the three kidnappers—bridge players—were convicted)!


1984 Spingold Winners: Bergen, Meckstroth, Rodwell, Cohen,Wold

Meanwhile, our team played 4-handed and reached the final. Shown here are my partner at the time, Marty Bergen, Meckstroth-Rodwell, me, and George's partner (who sat out the last 4 matches—with good cause), Eddie Wold.

Making this tournament even stranger, was the result in the final. We won, but as both teams were going over the boards, an error was discovered. One of the deals from the final quarter had been misduplicated by the dealing machine (or the directors). The board had to be thrown out. Our team still had "won" by 19 IMPs, but the directors said the match wasn't over. We had played only 63 legitimate boards. So, they ruled that we had to play one more deal to make the match complete.

Ay Caramba! Some of our teammates were already in the bar, celebrating. We all had to go back to the table to play this "65th" deal:

Vul: Both
Dlr: West
?Q 8 3
?A 6 3 2
?K 10 6
?10 3 2
?K J 10 7
?Q 8 7 5
?J 9 4 2
  ?A 9 5 4
?K J 10 9 4
?5 3
?9 7
  ?6 2
?A Q 8 7
?A K Q J 8 6 4

I was delighted to pick up the North cards. All we needed was to not lose a 19-imp swing and we'd win the Spingold. What could be better for avoiding a big swing than to hold a flat 9-count?

The dealer passed, I passed, but Alan Sontag, East, didn't pass. Needing to gain 19 IMPs, he tried the effect of a 4♠ opening bid!

Marty Bergen, with the South cards, overcalled 5?. The West player, Steve Sion, also looking for a swing, raised his partner all the way to 6?!

So much for a nice peaceful board. I doubled (not wanting Marty to bid any more). Surely, Marty would have his bid, being Vulnerable and up 19 IMPs. I knew 6? wasn't making. My double was passed back around to West, who redoubled! Marty wasn't happy (he didn't want to go minus 2070). Anyway, he reluctantly passed and the contract was down 4 (declarer misguessed the spades) and we were +2200.

At the other table, the auction began Pass--Pass--Pass. The desperate South player, Bernie Chazen opened 7?! It actually takes a spade lead to beat 6?, so that opening bid may have produced the desired huge result (however, to score 19 IMPs, you probably need to be in a grand slam). Rodwell actually found a spade lead against 7? to defeat it two tricks. Our team was 2200 and 200 for…20 IMPs! The desired swing was produced, but of course, to the team that was playing "normal bridge." There was nothing normal about the 1984 Spingold!