Andrew was born in Hungary, and came to Canada in 1957, like many of his countrymen, in the aftermath of the insurrection there against Soviet rule. He completed his medical training in his new country, and enjoyed a long and successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. His hobbies were chess and, of course, bridge.
I remember very well receiving Andrew’s manuscript in the mail. MPP didn’t really exist except on paper. Linda and I both had full-time careers that had nothing to do with bridge, but on the side we were publishing a (roughly) quarterly national magazine, Canadian Master Point. Our first book title was a collection of partnership questionnaires by Mary Paul which had appeared in CMP over a 2-3 year span. We had at that time no particular thoughts of doing more books. Then this package arrived, from someone who clearly didn’t know we weren’t for real.
It was hand written, perhaps a couple of hundred sheets of letter-size paper in a large manilla envelope, and comprised perhaps fifty or sixty short stories, each built around a bridge deal. As we began to read, we were both struck by the quality of the deals — and we quickly began asking ourselves who the author could be. It seemed inconceivable that someone in the Toronto area could construct problems of this quality and be unknown to us — indeed, I suspected for some time that ‘Andrew Diosy’ must be a pseudonym.
Not in the least. When we finally met Andrew, I realized that he was one of those people more common in the chess world than that of bridge, someone who can construct brilliant problems without necessarily being a top-level performer themselves in competition. We decided to publish the book, and the next challenge was presenting the problems in a way that would do them justice, allowing the reader to appreciate all the nuances. That was when Linda came up with the fundamental concept: the deals would be presented with no hidden hands — all 52 cards would be on view. The challenge to the reader would be to analyze the position and determine whether with best play the declarer or the defense should prevail. The second key was the idea of presenting a partial solution, and at the same time showing its flaws, keeping the final solution until later. This allowed the reader to explore each problem in increasing depth, without being told the actual solution the first time around.
This was not a format that was (or indeed is) to everyone’s taste. The book was titled There Must be a Way, and Jeff Rubens in The Bridge World rather snarkily commented ‘There must have been a better way to organize this book…’ But most readers liked the concept, and the deals themselves were brilliant. Eddie Kantar loved them, and wrote a wonderful foreword for the book, and TMBAW went through three printings — not bad for a completely unknown author and a start-up hobby publisher! A second book, You Have to See This, followed, and this time Linda got a deserved co-author credit. One of the world’s top problem constructors, Julian Pottage, became a fan of the approach, and has used it in two books — indeed, his Play or Defend? won the IBPA Book of the Year award in 2004.
Entries were a favorite Diosy theme. Here’s a typical deal from TMBAW, titled ‘Marked Finesse’. See how you fare:
The contract is 5♦. Take your best shot before scrolling down to Part 1 of the solution.
SOLUTION PART 1
You have 4 potential losers – a heart, a diamond and two clubs. However, with the ♦K onside you do not have to lose a trump trick, and although the ♣K is offside, you can hold your club losers to one since the ♣J is onside. The problem is getting to dummy for all those finesses. Say you win the spade lead in dummy and take the diamond finesse. After that wins you can draw trumps, but now what? There doesn’t appear to be an endplay…
Is there another line, or will the defense prevail even with this lucky layout? What do you think?
SOLUTION PART 2
The solution is to win the opening lead in the closed hand and play the ♣Q! West wins with the king and plays another spade. Dummy’s king wins the trick and you lead the ♣10. It doesn’t matter whether or not East covers: you will either remain in dummy or return to it with a third club for a successful finesse against the ♦K.
We still have a few copies left of both of Andrew Diosy’s books. If you’ve never read either of them, you’re missing something!