InicioBridge HandsThe Best in Bridge By Charles Goren (Part I)

The Best in Bridge By Charles Goren (Part I)

Fuente: Abril 10, 1961 

Sports Illustrated’s expert on cards introduces a gallery of famous players and reveals which profession produces the most consistent winners By Charles Goren

When I first got into bridge, I had little idea what a stimulating profession I had chosen. Because of the game I have been able to travel almost everywhere on earth and to meet both the leaders and the people of many nations. Bridge, I discovered early, was an interest I could share easily and pleasurably with men high in government, with schoolboys in Paris, or with professional baseball players. I have found surprisingly good players among all of them. But who, I am often asked, are the best players?

The question in a sense is unfair. With equal logic you might ask, who are the best beekeepers? Still, and perhaps recklessly, I have an answer. Lawyers are the best.

You may be surprised at this. There is a widely held belief that mathematicians as a group are superior players. They should be but, curiously, I have never known this to be so. It is the same with chess players. With their excellent training, I would have thought that they would make ideal raw material for the bridge table. Yet I have watched such world champions as José Capablanca and Dr. Emanuel Lasker, and I am certain that had they played chess as they played bridge their names would not be well known today. Musicians are said to have precise minds. The ones I have met have been great enthusiasts for bridge, but somehow they have all lacked the proper attitude to be really good.

No, in the end I am forced to conclude that among the professional men in the field of tournament bridge, the most successful have been those with legal training. This is a particularly difficult thing for me to say because I once practiced law myself. This, I hope, has not prejudiced my thinking. I suppose the reason why so many lawyers are good bridge players is that logic is the basis of their practice and, also, they are in close contact with people and are good judges of what behavior to expect.

Bobby Jones is an attorney in point. He took up bridge in his middle years after illness barred him from the golf course. Observe how he performed with the North cards below.

North-South vulnerable South dealer

Opening lead: king of diamonds

South opened with one spade, and West overcalled two diamonds. Jones, North, had a choice at this point. The routine call is a jump raise to three spades. However, he felt that his reasonably good club suit might have an important bearing on subsequent play if a fit could be uncovered, so he bid three clubs.

South rebid three hearts, and now Jones turned on the steam by jumping to four spades. Though South became slam-minded, the two losing diamonds demanded that he proceed with caution. A Blackwood call would not be appropriate for even if North had no aces, a slam might be around the corner if he had second-round control of diamonds.

So South bid five clubs. Since spades had been vigorously supported, this was an obvious cue-bid suggesting that partner contract for slam if he could take care of the unbid suit, diamonds.

Jones promptly accommodated, and shortly after the opening lead, South tabled his cards and claimed the small slam. Observe that North might just as easily have held a hand with two diamonds and a singleton heart, in which case he would have stopped at five spades.

Though I practiced law for more than a decade, the closest I ever came to a Supreme Court case was in my studies at school. Bridge, on the other hand, enabled me to meet one of the great men of our time, Fred Vinson, the late Chief Justice. Justice Vinson loved sports, particularly baseball and football, and the elephantine memory that catalogued tax figures for the House Ways and Means Committee also retained batting averages and famous plays from years back. In his youth he played shortstop, and the story, perhaps apocryphal but certainly typical, is told of the time a man asked him if he was the same Fred Vinson who played on a Kentucky team against a West Virginia nine some 40 years before.

«I am,» he replied, «and we almost always lost, thanks to you.»

to be continued


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