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A Unique Sequence of Psychic Bids

ALAN TRUSCOTT in April 7, 1982, wrote a note entitled: Herman Filarski Was Star As a Player and Journalist

Herman Filarski
Herman Filarski

You could read in the note: Since World War II, when he learned the game in a German prison camp from which he later escaped, he had been outstanding as a player, a journalist and an administrator. In the postwar years Filarski was the star of a Dutch team that could beat the best in Europe and often did. For the rest of his life he was the leading bridge journalist in his country, and he organized such interesting events as the Bols Tip contest, attracting constructive advice from the world’s top players.

In 1955 Filarski had an important idea and carried it out brilliantly. At the European Championships in Amsterdam he introduced The Daily Bulletin, a feature of major tournaments that we now take for granted.

This is a note from the Third World Bridge Team Olympiad, Deauville 1968


THE GREAT HERMAN FILARSKI the Dutch journalist, author, magazine editor and international player, spotted a unique sequence of psychic bids in his country’s match against Argentina. Filarski tells the story in his own inimitable style.

The first 16 boards of the Argentina-Holland match were rather quiet for both sides. Then came the Board 17 and probably Mr. Zanalda (Argentine) felt that something had to be done to avoid a draw:

  10 8 7 6 5
9 5 2
5 2
K Q J 2
10 9 6 2
J 9 4
  9 4 3
A 8 7 6 3
8 5 4
7 6
Q 10 4
K 7 3
A K Q 10 8 3

Slavenburg (North) passed and Zanalda opened the East hand with a fancy one club. Kreyns’ riposte was short and effective – with the South hand he simply bid 3NT.

Sitting between West and North and seeing their hands, I felt sure something unusual was going on: West held a useful 11 points and North a good seven! Santamarina West, had exactly the same feeling and was wise enough not to double.

He led K and Kreyns collected ten tricks for a score of 430. At the other table the Argentina bidding, not interrupted by any psychic bid, was less successful: the Argentina, South opened one club – West (Rebattu senior) bid one spade – North and East passed. South rebid two clubs…End!!! 10 tricks,and only 130 to Argentina.

But, thought Zanalda…What did not succeed a first time, might go better at the next opportunity: On the very next board, No. 18, these were the cards:

  J 7 5
A 4
K 7 6 3 2
J 7 4
Q 10 4 3
K Q J 9 2
9 5 2
  K 9 6
10 7 6 3
Q 10 9 4
10 3
  A 8 2
8 5
A J 8
A K Q 8 6

Looking for a ravanche, Zanalda again opened the East hand with one club. Kreyns, South, doubled – Santamarina, West, bid two hearts – Slavenburg, North, bid three diamonds East passed – South bid three hearts, asking for a stopper – West doubled – North bid 3NT.

East led a heart, but there was no defence and Slavenburg scored nine tricks, 600 points to Holland. Again things went rather badly for Argentina in the other room. East passed-South bid one club – West bid one heart – North bid two clubs- East bid two hearts – South bid three clubs – finish! 130 points to Argentina.

However, what fails twice might come to a better result the third time. O n the very next board there was a very shrewd psychic bid!

  Q 10 5
J 6 4 3
5 3
8 7 4 3
J 9
A 9 7
K 10 9 8
K 6 5 2
  A 8 2
10 8 5
A Q J 7 2
A 10
  K 7 6 4 3
K Q 2
6 4
Q J 9

South passed – West passed – North bid one club! East doubled – South redoubled – West passed – North bid one heart (his second suit’!) – East passed – South bid one spade – West bid 1NT end.

Again an easy nine tricks but this time the psychic bidder had succeed (in taking his opponents out of a vulnerable game). Probably you noticed that this time the one club opening had no Argentine inventor but was made by Bob Slavenburg in the North seat. (The Argentines are not the only ones who know how to handle such hands, he told me afterwards.)

The score, 180 to Argentina, was a poor one for that team. At the other table there were no psychic bidsand the bidding sequence from father-and-son Rebattu was: East one diamond, West 2NT, East 3NT. Another 600 to Holland – and the battle of the psychics was over.


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