Barnet Shenkin

The New York Times by Alan Truscott prev/next

Redcoats Fail to Capture Philadelphia for the Crown

Britain's Bicentennial effort in the last four days to recapture Philadelphia for the Crown was decisively defeated by a powerful sextet of patriot bridge players.

Robert Jordan, Arthur Robinson, Bob Goldman, Mark Blumenthal and Norman Kay, all past or present Philadelphians, together with Norman Kay, all past or present Philadelphians, together with Edgar Kaplan of New York, under the captaincy of Skippy Becker, led by 32 international match points into the final-session of play yesterday. They eventually won by 25 points, 90 to 65.

Throughout the match, the Americans showed themselves to be slightly more accurate in bidding than the four invaders - Tony Priday and Claude Rodrigue of London, and Barnett Shenkin and Michael Rosenberg of Glasgow. The case in point is the diagramed deal, in which Priday and Rodrigue eventually doubled Kaplan in an unbeatable contract of five hearts.

As the opening bid of one heart guaranteed a five-card suit, Kay raised his partner to the three level, a bid that was invitational rather than forcing in the partnership style. Rodrigue, never a shy bidder, now intervened vulnerable with three spades, a move that can be termed aggressive when it succeeds and rash when it fails.

A Double for Penalties

In a sense, three spades succeeded, because it allowed East-West to bid four spades, a cheap sacrifice. But in another sense, it failed, for when Kaplan pulled his partner's double to five hearts, Priday doubled for penalties with the West hand, in the belief that he would make at least two tricks and that his partner would have some defensive contribution to make. After the lead of the diamond king, the contract was made without difficulty, the declarer ruffing one diamond in the dummy, discarding another diamond on the spade ace, and eventually losing a trick to the club king.

Dlr: South
Vul: Both
N ♠A J 7 5
♥Q 8 3
♣Q 9 8 4 3
W ♠10 9 4 2
♥9 5 4
♦A K 7 6
♣K 7
 E ♠K Q 8 6 3
♦Q 9 5 3 2
♣10 5
 S ♠-
♥A K J 10 7 2
♦J 10 8
♣A J 6 2
1♥Pass 3♥ 3♠
4♣ 4♠DoublePass

West led the diamonds king.

In the replay, it was again the British who were aggressive, and the Americans who were cautious. With East-West silent, the bidding was:

2♣ 3♦
3♠ 4♥
4♠ 5♥

North's first two bids need some explanation. One no-trump was forcing, and the jump to three diamonds was a splinter bid, promising fine club support and at most a singleton in diamonds. This was music to South's ears, and he eventually bid a slam in hearts rather than clubs when his partner indicated support for the major suit.

Both slams depend on the club situation, and are not good propositions, slightly less than one chance in three. But six hearts was not, an unreasonable gamble, when the match was going badly.

If Shenkin had been favored by the fates and found a doubleton or singleton club king on his right or a singleton ten on the left he would have brought home the slam and made the match an exact tie. But that sort of luck is reserved for the Italian champions, who gained a world title last year with the help of the king of clubs.