Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bridge by Frank Stewart

The ACBL's well-attended Fall Championships in Phoenix suggested to me that tournament bridge has become a fragmented affair. In the major events at the Sheraton, a huge number of players were professionals being paid hefty fees by wealthy playing "sponsors." ACBL tournaments offer no prize money, but the league could still have a "leading money-winners" list like the PGA Tour.

Next door at the Hyatt Regency was everybody else: novices and average players vying against each other. In theory, any tournament attendee can go up against the pros. In practice, the ACBL caters to its members by offering a host of events that let players compete only against their peers and have a chance to win coveted masterpoints.

In the Open Board-a-Match Teams (won by a sponsored team, of course), today's South played at 1NT, and West led a heart. Declarer won the second heart and led a spade from dummy, and East, for reasons unknown, grabbed his ace to lead his last heart.

As West cashed his hearts, South threw a spade and a diamond. West then exited with the jack of spades, and South won and cashed the A-K of diamonds. He was left with a spade and A-Q-8 of clubs, and dummy had K-10-6-5 of clubs. East couldn't keep his queen of spades and four clubs, so South took the rest, making two. He won the board. At the other table, declarer managed only seven tricks at 1NT.

Even so-called pros err. If East had just played "second hand low" on the first spade, observing a beginner's dictum, South would have won only seven tricks even if he had put up his king.

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