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The Psychic and Chorus Girl by Dick Cummings

Fuente:        THE PSYCHIC AND CHORUS GIRL by Dick Cummings Published in the Sun-Herald July 9th, 1995.

Richard J. Cummings
Richard J. Cummings

One colourful storie concerns Helen Sobel Smith, a regular partner of Charles Goren in an era when the standard of women’s bridge had sometimes been criticised when compared with the men’s game. Smith, who learned to play bridge while a chorus girl in the Marx Brothers’ «Animal Crackers’, was an exception.

Her unswerving concentration and skilful card-play convinced even the staunchest MCPs (ED: Male Chauvinist Pigs) that she was up there with the best of the men. When once asked what it was like to partner one of the world’s great players, she replied: «Shouldn’t you be asking Charlie?»

Another vignette on the theme of American self-appraisal stars John Crawford, whose table aura in his prime made him the opponent most feared by fellow experts when the chips were down. He was once approached at a tournament by a player wanting an opinion on a hand. «Before you give me the hand, who’s my partner supposed to be?’ Crawford asked.

«It’s unimportant,» answered the player.

“I have to know; said Crawford. ‘It might make a difference’.

«Okay, then – another good player. Make it yourself, or your twin brother.

«Who are my opponents?” «If you insist on that too, make it two more John Crawfords.»

Said Crawford: «I’m sorry. I wouldn’t play in that game. It’s too tough.’

In those days, psychic bidding was more prevalent in champion events than it is now, especially when Crawford was at the table.

Courtesy of Fred Karpin’s Psychological Strategy In Contract Bridge comes this sample from a 1953 world championship match between the US and Sweden:


A sporting auction began with East psyching an opening on a one count. Lilliehook, who had a good hand, entered into the spirit of the occasion by psyching an overcall on a three-card suit. When North raised unceremoniously to 6, it looked like a bonanza board for the Americans until something funny happened.

Crawford’s fellow Hall-of-Famer, Schenken, slipped uncharacteristically by leading a club. All was not yet lost. But when declarer ruffed in dummy, crossed to the ace of hearts and led the jack of clubs, Schenken elected to duck. Lilliehook punished him by throwing the K. Next came the J overtaken by the queen – and then a small spade. It wouldn’t help to ruff, so Crawford threw a club on the spade. Lilliehook won with the queen then found the great play of leading the 10 and letting Schenken’s jack hold the trick. Later he was able to ruff a spade and claim the rest of the tricks on the table. The contract would have been down two on a spade lead and down at least one on a diamond or a heart. In typical fashion, Karpin comes down hard on his countrymen for not defeating the slam. When players of this quality go wrong, however, maybe the defence isn’t as easy as it looks.


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