Famous Hand by Steve Becker

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So much emphasis is been placed on high card point count that the role of distribution all too often is given a back seat in the evaluation of a hand.

By Ana Roth
On 6 January, 2016 At 13:01

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Josephine Culbertson
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The Free Lance-Star – 23 Oct 1995

aaxx Opening lead — jack of diamonds.

So much emphasis has been placed on high card point count in recent years that the role of distribution all too often is given a back seat in the evaluation of a hand.

This deal was played in a team-of-four championship many years ago. The East player was George Reith, one of the founders of the one-over-one system, which is a fundamental part of our present day methods of bidding.

Reith also promulgated a high-card point count system of evaluation that was in use as early as 1930. He opened the bidding with one heart and eventually reached six hearts after his partner (Clement Read) had given him a raise.

When North then bid six spades, Reith doubled, holding four top tricks and 19 high-card points. He certainly had a reasonable expectation of defeating the contract. This turned out to be impossible, however, since East- West could take no more than one trick — the club ace. Declarer ruffed his three hearts in dummy, and lost only one club trick due to the location of the A Q in front of the K J.

It would be unfair to criticize Reith’s double, even though the slam could not be defeated the way the cards were stacked. His high cardvalues were annihilated by the freak distribution of the North-South hands. At the other table, the bidding was equally frantic. Reith’s team-mates (Benedict Jarmel and Ralph Hirschberg) also bid six spades over six hearts but they were less fortunate.

The East-West pair Jo Culbertson and Al Morehead carried on to seven hearts (which could be held to down one). But Jarmel and Hirschberg, unwilling to run the risk of having a vulnerable grand slam scored against them, continued on to seven spades — down one — and the Reith team lost 1310 points on the deal.

cartoon beetle

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