Photo Agustin Madala  by Francesca Canali

Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was an Austrian-Hungarian-born American stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice as «Harry Handcuff Houdini» on a tour of Europe, where he sensationally challenged different police forces to try to keep him locked up. This revealed a talent for gimmickry and for audience involvement that characterized all his work. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can.

The 2012 Campionati di Società (2012 Italian Clubs Championships) was held in Salsomaggiore from September 27 to 30, the teams played the semi-finals and finals of the Campionati di Società and the Play Off and Play Out for the promotion to the upper series or to stay or leave their own series. The Open Final found Associato Allegra vs Bridge Reggio Emilia against each other.

Associato Allegra:  Bocchi Norberto, Duboin Giorgio, Ferraro Guido, Lavazza Maria Teresa, Madala Agustin, Sementa Antonio

Bridge Reggio Emilia: Basile Mauro, Buratti Andrea, Comella Amedeo, Facchini  Giancarlo,  Fornaciari Ezio, Gianardi Carla, Mima Alado, Ruspa Gian Paolo

In the first hand of the final’s 3 of 6 (16 boards) sets, Agustin Madala performed a sensational three stages escape act when figures were: Bridge Reggio Emilia 46 – Associato Allegra 67.

Board #1 Dealer North, None Vul


6 2
J 8
J 4 2
J 8 6 5 3

A K 10 5
10 9 4
10 8
K 7 4 2


A 7 5 3 2
K 5 3
A Q 10 9


Q J 9 8 7 3
K Q 6
A 9 7 6

 West         North       East         South

Ruspa          Bocchi         Mina         Madala

                        Pass            1            1

Double        Pass             2             2

4               Pass            Pass          Pass

Lead: J

Madala led the J (Rusinow), declarer played the A and continued with a little club to the A…Madala realized that if he ruffed the trick he was going to be endplayed (a diamond return would give a diamond trick and a spade return would give a spade trick to declarer) so he performed his first escape act: he pitched a little spade.

Declarer quickly realized he was in danger …and played the A and Agustin performed his second escape act he played the K, saving a heart escape card…

Declarer continued with another heart and Madala performed his third escape act, he hold his breath in a perfect Houdini style and played the 6, dreaming with a miracle…and all his dreams came true when Bocchi won the trick with his J and returned the Q to defeat the contract in two tricks…

This act of escapism in three stages could only function thanks to the play of a club in the second trick, if declarer would have played a heart in the second trick letting South win the trick if North played a little heart or winning with the ace if Bocchi played the J …Madala-Houdini  wouldn’t been able to escape and the myth could not have been revived.  

Well done Agustin…after I wrote this article I received some mails from bridge players talking about this hand, Luis Palazzo was one of them…his mail begun with this words: “. Agustin Madala  is a player from another galaxy». Just the same words all the people used to describe The Great Houdini…