Games: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
OH FOR those days back in 1931 when this match, billed as the Bridge Battle of the Century, made front-page news around the world. In those days bridge was considered to be an elitist game, but now that it is about to become an Olympic discipline and more and more people are taking it up that tag has long gone. Yet today it takes a scandal to put bridge in the headlines, or, as happened last year, the threat that a computer programme might win the World Par Contest. It didn't - Michael Rosenberg did. He being a mere mortal, this didn't make the news.

The Bridge Battle of the Century was played to determine which was the superior bidding system; Eli Culbertson's approach forcing methods or Sidney Lenz's increasing strength level opening style. This was the bidding on one famous hand from that match. Modern bidding purists, please avert eyes.


Oswald Ely Sidney Theodore

Jacoby Culbertson Lenz Lightner

1H No bid 3NT No bid

4H No bid 4NT No bid

5H No bid 6NT No bid

No bid Double No bid No bid

7H Double All pass

Culbertson said he considered his double of Six No Trumps to be a shrewd psychological stroke. However, East must find a club lead to defeat it, not totally obvious from the bidding. Note that at no time was the spade suit mentioned, which is the only grand slam that actually makes, against any lead.


] A Q 10 3

_ A

+ A Q 9 7

[ A 7 5 2

] 9 8 5

_ K 6

+ 5 4 3 2

[ K J 9 8

] 6 2

_ 10 3 2

+ K J 10 8 6

[ Q 10 3

] K J 7 4

_ Q J 9 8 7 5 4

+ none

[ 6 4