ACBL Bridge Beat #72: Pairs Trials 1968

Sixteen pairs (Edgar Kaplan – Norman Kay, B. Jay Becker – Dorothy Hayden, George Rapée – Sidney Lazard, Bob Hamman – Eddie Kantar, Phil Feldesman – Dan Morse, Sami Kehela – Wolf Lebovic, George Rosenkranz – Paul Hodge, Dan Rotman – Charles Perez, Gerald Caravelli – Milt Rosenberg, Bobby Wolff – Jim Jacoby, Bobby Goldman – Billy Eisenberg, Al Roth – Bill Root, Jeff Westheimer – Ira Rubin, Steve Altman – Mike Becker, John Crawford – Tobias Stone, Richard Spero – Ronald Blau) set about the task of competing for a place on the team for the 1969 World Team Championship.

The sixteen pairs played in a qualifying round-robin of 14-deal matches. The ten surviving pairs played a final round-robin of 28-deal matches.

Individual deals were scored in IMPs, with each score rated against every other table. A single deal could carry a swing of as many as 98 IMPs (in qualifying rounds) for or against one pair, even though the maximum gain from a single opponent could not exceed 14 IMPs on any deal.

The IMP differences in each match were converted into Victory Points, with 42 VPs at stake in each qualifying round match and 84 VPs in each final round match.

Standings at the end of the qualifying stage:

1. Hamman –Kantar 464
2. Rapée- Lazard 427 ½
3. Kaplan-Kay 383
4. Rubin-Westheimer 381 ½
5. Becker-Hayden 330 ½
6. Eisenberg-Goldman 327
7. Wolff-Jacoby 317
8. Roth-Root 314 ½
9. Caravelli-Rosenberg 314
10. Feldesman-Morse 307 ½

Hamman-Kantar won 12 of 15 qualifying matches and finished with a qualifying score that was 65 ½ points higher than the previous year’s leaders.

The following hand, played by Al Roth, was reported as possibly the best from the qualifying matches.

Dlr: East ♠ J 6 4
Vul: All J 8 3 2
A 8 5
♣ A K 9
♠ K 10 9 7 3 2 ♠ A 8
K Q 9 7 4
4 K 9 6 3
♣ 7 6 5 4 2 ♣ 10 8 3
♠ Q 5
A 10 6 5
Q J 10 7 2
♣ Q J
West North East South
Pass Pass
2♠ Dbl Pass 4
All Pass

Opening lead: 4

Root’s takeout double with the North cards was a doubtful action, and when Roth jumped to 4 Root was not too happy. When Roth bid 4 he made a note on the score slip: “I think 3NT is the right bid!” As the cards lie, that contract is cold, but Roth scored a big pick-up anyway with perfect handling of his heart game.

Declarer suspected West’s diamond lead was singleton, so he won the A and cashed three rounds of clubs, discarding a spade from his hand. East’s ♣10 seemed to indicate long clubs with West, and West’s failure to lead spades suggested that East had a high honor. If East held both the K and Q as well, he was unlikely to have remained silent throughout the auction.

Roth elected to back his card-reading, so he led a heart from dummy and went up with the Ace, evoking a heart-warming response from West – the K. A diamond was surrendered to East, who shifted to Ace and another spade. Roth ruffed the second round and cashed two high diamonds, reducing the hand to this position:

♠ —
J 8 3
♣ —
♠ K 10 9 ♠ —
Q 9 7
♣ — ♣ —
♠ —
10 6
♣ —

East was about to claim two trump tricks for a one-trick set when Roth led his last diamond and ruffed with dummy’s Jack. East could overruff with the Queen, but he would have to lead away from the 9-7 of trumps into declarer’s combined 10-8 tenace. Making four gained 59 IMPs.

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