Ray Lee

More from 1978

A couple of weeks ago I posted the real story of the The Column that Never Was — my final column for the Toronto Star, which featured a wild deal from the 1978 World Championships involving Bill Milgram and Irving Litvack.  When I mentioned to Bill that I had tracked down the deal, he told me that I should really write up a much more interesting one from the same event, which had appeared in the Daily Bulletin.  Fortunately, Bill still had all his Bulletins, and was able to dig out the one he wanted.

This was the deal:

Dealer: South

Vul: NS





















West North East South
pass 1
pass 1NT pass 2
pass 3 pass 4
pass 4 pass 4
pass 4 pass 5NT
pass 7 all pass

The match was against the Italian team, which made what happened somewhat ironic.  The Canadians were playing a modified version of Blue Team Club: 1 was strong and artificial, and 1NT showed 4 controls. The next three bids were natural, and 4 (in the Italian style) showed first or second round control of the suit.  Two more cuebids were followed by 5NT GSF, with the response showing two of the top three honors.  Irving knew his partner might have only four clubs, in which case the diamond ruff in his hand would be a thirteenth trick not available in notrump — so he passed.  His partner’s 3 call had promised a ‘good’ suit, so in this context if he only had four of them, Irving was pretty confident the jack would be among them.

And so it proved — in practical terms, they had reached the only makeable grand.  At the other table, the Italians reached 7NT.  Owing to the incredibly fortuitous lie of the spot cards in diamonds, this can be made on a squeeze – East’s 5-4-3 tripleton means that West is the only player who can guard North’s 6.   Thus, double-dummy, declarer can cash the A and run all his black winners, squeezing West in the red suits.  In the real world, declarer took the diamond finesse and quietly went one down.

Bill’s still proud of that auction — and I don’t blame him!


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