Page 0073

everything in sight in 1937. Whilst Maurice

Harrison-Gray and S J (Skid) Simon were perhaps

regarded as the stronger pair on the team, the

contribution of Marx and Iain Macleod - later to be

Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Heath

government - was real enough. After the War, Marx

played in fewer tournaments but was good enough

to be part of the Great Britain team (in partnership

with Harrison-Gray) which won the 1950 European

Championship, thus completing a hat-trick of

victories for GB. I knew Marx in his later years

when he played at the London Duplicate club, often

with Bob or Jim: he remained a good player and had

matured into a

benevolent elder

statesman of the

game.

The sequence

discussed in the

article was not

impressive. Whilst

the bidding up to

2t was normal

enough, though

cautious players

might pass the

North hand, South's

rebid of 2NT strikes

me as overconservative

and I would have expected 2´: over

this, North should give preference to 3® and South

would then try 3NT. With the 500 bonus for

winning the rubber in prospect, this is a perfectly

decent contract though not makeable on best

defence given the lie of the cards.

I have to say that I disagree with Marx and that I

would not rebid 3t over 2NT. With the queen in

partner's suit and a side ace, I am happy enough

with a no trump contract. South's 3NT rebid was

inconsistent, though understandable, the ten of

diamonds being a valuable card (for instance if

North has QJ9xxx).

East's double is the sort that good players love to

make, though he would have ideally preferred

slightly better diamond intermediates: even the 7

rather than the 6 would have made a deal of

difference. South's redouble is no more than a

victory roll in celebration of having secured another

contract.

West's opening lead of a diamond might

charitably be described as uninspired. With clubs

bottled up, and an attractive sequence to lead from,

a heart is far better. I think that South should win

the first heart and immediately attack diamonds:

assuming that declarer plays a top honour from

dummy, there is no point in East ducking, so he

should win and continue a heart. As Marx pointed

out, it is preposterous to regard East's trick one play

of his lowest heart as suit preference. Although there

are times when a suit preference signal at trick one

is appropriate, this is not one of them.

This is the crucial point in the play: declarer

might well decide to

play for hearts to be

4-4 (or 6-2) and win

the second heart - if

he does so, he is

obviously doomed

to defeat. But, if he

ducks, West must be

alert and switch to a

spade (not difficult)

rather than woodenly

continuing with

hearts.

Although it

smacks of a doubledummy

play, East

had an unlikely chance to beat the contract, or at

least to give declarer the chance to go wrong:

because West held ´9, switching to the two after

winning the first trick might well have been

successful. However, had declarer got the suit right

by playing the ten, this would have resulted in two

redoubled overtricks at 400 points each - expensive

when playing for money!

One final point on the bidding. In discussing

whether or not East should overcall 1´, Marx

assumes, as was standard in those days that a double

by South would be penalty. Nowadays, of course,

most would play it as negative. It is interesting to

note that, in the 1930s, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter

Buller - who was a proponent of natural bidding

and absolutely opposed to artificial conventions -

regarded a double of one-level intervention as

'informatory' (not for penalty).

I think that Marx did a pretty good job of

analysing the bidding and play of this hand: what

do you think? r

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