The Legend is no more; the lore lives on. It is six Novembers since Vigyan Gupta, the finest player of India has produced passed away at his son’s residence in Hyderabad. A multi faceted personality, he was educated at Government College, and Law College, Lahore; master at Maths and English, master of the fine art of conversation; practiced law for a while, ran a Montessori School; he had a commanding presence, that defies description.
There are several dazzling displays by Vigyan. The following deal would perhaps rank amongst his most exciting ones. It is the Calcutta nationals of 1962. A.D.Kantak,a respected national Director in later years, deals and announces a strong hand with 2D. The bidding:
As 9 is led dummy comes down with A4 6 75 KQJ87652
Vigyan’s hand: KQ108632 Axxxx x
Kantak overtakes the 9 with the A and continues with the K.
Vigyan stopped for but ten seconds, according to Walshe. The conversation that ensued is worth reproducing for posterity.
“Kantak, you are a friend of mine?”
“Yes, sure, but what is wrong?»
“You will have to oblige me twice”. Kantak laughs in his inimitable style and says «Won’t one do?’
“No, it has to be twice!” The tone, imperious.
“When I enter the dummy with trump ace, you must play your singleton jack.”
And, he did that!
“When I pull a small club, you must play your singleton ace, mind you, you are to play the ace not to oblige me , out of say Axx, but because you do hold the ace as singleton”.
He did that!
Vigyan ruffs the diamond king, played a spade to the ace, North played the valet. Played a club, North played his A, he ruffed, played the A and enters dummy by ruffing a heart, discards three hearts on the clubs; then comes up by ruffing with 10 [hence the significance of asking for singleton jack!]. Removes the outstanding trumps to claim the slam. The complete hand:
K Q 10 x
A K Q J 10 x x
| A 4
K Q J 8 7 6 5 2
| K Q 10 8 6 3 2
A x x x x
| 9 7 5
J x x
9 x x
x x x x
A virtuoso performance, this.The kibitzers who flocked to his table were rewarded. They stood up and cheered and clapped as one man. Sheer artistry! Vigyan, meaning science, then, is a misnomer, no? Not for nothing is he known as the Bhishma Pithamaha of bridge.