Judy Kay-Wolff


Not surprisingly, the Alder column today (following up on yesterday’s hand) — did indeed advocate not succumbing to the temptation of taking the club finesse at trick one, for the obvious reason — placing a ‘cold’ contract  in jeopardy because of poor timing.  

The concept discussed was reminiscent of a famous overused line on the old TV show "Championship Bridge with Charles Goren" which was aired from 1959 through 1964 on NBC.  Those of you (whether by exposure from ‘kitchen bridge,’ rubber bridge, duplicate or even tournament competition) all remember fondly how we anxiously awaited the Sunday Bridge Gala to appear on the tube.  The sponsors were Allied Van Lines, Samsonite and Sara Lee and four celebrated bridge personalities (usually two established partnerships) would compete against each other in a friendly, warm atmosphere that would be accompanied by the analysis of the bidding, play and defense.  There were token money prizes to the winners, but I recall Norman (having played on one of the shows with his good friend, Alvin Landy) telling me, during his particular appearance that it was preordained among the four contestants that they would ‘split’ the booty (hardly enough to cover a round trip train ticket, cabs and sustenance before and after the airing).  But, appearing on the show was not about money.  It was all about the distinction of being handpicked by "Mr. Bridge" to appear on this much-watched bridge extravaganza.

The program zeroed in on many theories, card combinations and frequent table situations and Drier, the popular Emcee, was often heard to belt out with great exuberance and conviction, "He spurned the finesse, Charlie!"  At the time, my friends and I had just been introduced to the game and it made an everlasting mark on our novicy, impressionable minds that it is not always judicious to take what appears to be an obvious finesse. Such was the case in yesterday’s hand and once again proved to be sage advice. 

It is astounding that a simple subject discussed in a current column can trigger a memory from a TV show popular almost half a century ago.  Perhaps that is why bridge is a game unto itself!


JohnFebruary 16th, 2009 at 5:20 am

I agree with your and ultimately Phillip Adler’s analysis. It can’t be right to risk the contract at trick 1. Given a likely auction of 1D-1NT-3NT West led a club. Typically South on this auction will have club or diamond length yet West did not lead either hearts or spades. Had he/she had four hearts that might have been an attractive lead. Since it was not forthcoming it seems reasonable to assume that if the club finesse loses, a heart shift by East will be guaranteed, probably from five to two of the top four honors. Then if the spade finesse fails as it seems it might given the lead argument above, it will be curtains for South. Sometimes even at matchpoints it pays to play it safe to bring home a good contract.

JudyFebruary 21st, 2009 at 2:19 pm

John: Well reasoned! It is a boon for the game and for Las Vegas that you have returned to the bridge scene. We need vital, talented players like you (with good judgment and fine ethics) to carry the torch. Just get in the other section when next we play!