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Bridge & Humor: Comic’s Artist play puts Jacoby third

Show Biz daily panel by Flash Fairfield
Show Biz daily panel by Flash Fairfield

The Southeast Missourian – 21 May 1969

The following is an account of how an ordinary bridge player fared when he has Oswald Jacoby, the Missourian bridge expert,  as a partner. Mr. Fairfild is artist and production manager of Newspaper Enterprise Association’s Comic Art Departament, NEA provides The Missourian with numerous features. By FLASH FAIRFIELD

«Flash, how about being my partner in a side game this afternoon?» I looked at Oswald Jacoby. Six of us from NEA were lunching with Oswald and Jim Jacoby during the Important American Contract Bridge League Spring Nationals here in Cleveland last month.

Could he possibly mean me? By George, he did! I accepted quickly before he could come to his senses.

«I hope you’ve had experience playing with wretched partners,» I said.

«I’ve played with the world’s worst,» he replied, citing some instances. Jacoby has accumulated more bridge trophies than any other expert, including seven Vanderbilt Cups, most prestigious in ACBL competition. He was the first to amass 10.000 master points, won the first contract bridge tournament ever played, was on the winning American team in the first International match, is the captain of the American team scheduled to play for the world championship in South America in May.


My credentials? A trophy (1962) from a suburban duplicate bridge club, one·tenth of a master point, and I read copy on Jacoby and Son’s Win at Bridge column (on NEA).

I plunked down seven smash to register Jacoby and Fairfield for the game, realizing the substantial sums some bridge nuts will pay just to say they played with an expert. We located our table and filled out our ACBL convention card with the systems we would use. Naturally, Ossie was limited to the few basic conventions I know.

Jacoby kept score. Our first opponents got the play on both hands. Ossie caught me in my first misplay on the second hand. «Partner.» he said. You should have taken your ace when you had the chance. You gave them an extra trick.

Jacoby played the next two hands against new opponents. He plays as he’s catching a train in two minutes and has to shove first, Pow! Pow! It’s over and Ossie is up and away visiting friends between hands. Wham! He’s back. I played four hearts and went down one. Opponents bid two spades and made three. I over bid on the next round but Ossie played it and made it.

«Occasionall you step on an acorn and it turns out to be a little nugget of gold.» He smiled. Jacoby plays fast  undoubtly he holds the national title of speed – and he’s quick to comment if play is delayed.

«When  come to play bridge, I play,» he scolded an opponent. «Perhaps you come to contemplate your hand, or the tapestry, or the decor, but I’ve already made my lead!» Once when I made the right lead Ossie said: That club lead set ‘em, partner. Any other lead and they’d make it.»

One opponent mentioned how nervous he was playing Jacoby. «You’re nervous?» I laughed. «How do you think I feel?»

I’ve been known to keep my cool but frankly, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing those three-and-a-half hours. Once I jumped Jacoby into a 6NT contract. (We could have made 6 spades easy. We went down two.) But my
«masterpiece» came near the end when I bid poorly and played the hand for two hearts. I drew trumps and went to the dummy to run his long clubs and throw off losers in my hand. I trumped a good club with several yet to play.

Ossie grumbled: «I must say that, as bad as your play is, your bidding is worst. Why don’t you just claim your tricks? Why waste time playing it out?»

By now I had no idea what contract I was in and laboriously played out the last five tricks. That’s probably when Jacoby realized that after 40 brilliant years of bridge playing he’d met his worst partner, a thought that makes me swell with no little pride. We set our opponents in the last hand. Jacoby bounced up, talked a moment and disappeared into the throng.

I discovered next day that we came in third out of 14. It isn’t every partner who can keep Oswald Jacoby out of first place, but somehow, I’m more Impressed that Oswald Jacoby could bring Flash Fairfield up to third!




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