ACBL Bridge Beat #107: Corporate America vs Congress

Businessmen fight against legislators every day in Washington. The first such battle in the microcosm of the bridge table occurred May 11, 1989 in that city.

”We’ll see who can concentrate better on a bridge match, the lawmakers or the moneymakers,” said Kathie Wei, who with Dr. Patricia Cayne organized the Corporate America vs. U.S. Congress match. Intended to be an annual event, Corporate America and Congress faced off three more times after the inaugural event in 1989. They played in 1990, 1993 and 1996.

The Corporate America Team in 1989 was Laurence Tisch, Alan “Ace” Greenberg, Jimmy Cayne, Warren Buffett, Malcolm Forbes and George Gillespie III. Playing for Congress were team captain Arlan Stangeland of Minnesota, Lynn Martin of Illinois, Bob Kastenmeier of Wisconsin, Hank Brown of Colorado, Jim Leach of Iowa, Howard Nielson of Utah, and Bob Packwood of Oregon. Joining them were Judge Mel Wells, Senators Bob Kerry of Nebraska and Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, and a former Congressman, Roger Zion of Wisconsin.

Corporate America was heavily favored because two recognized champions – Jimmy Cayne and Ace Greenberg – were on the team. Corporate America did win, but it was close. Using an IMP scale, the final score was Corporate America 54, Congress 39.

Corporate America took a huge lead right at the start. Jimmy Cayne and Ace Greenberg bid and made a slam on the first deal – the Congress pair stopped in game. On the second deal Tisch and Forbes got to a diamond game while congress stopped at 4. When the ♣K proved to be onside, the game made and Corporate America was ahead, 17-0.

But Sen. Boschwitz got 4 IMPs back on the third deal when he made 4 doubled. And two boards later the match was tied, 17-17.

Here is the deal that earned Congress 13 IMPs:

Board: 5

Dlr: North ♠ 8
Vul: N-S K 9 7 6 5 2
4 2
♣ K Q J 7
♠ Q 10 9 6 4 3 ♠ J 7 2
4 3 A J 8
Q 8 6 3 A
♣ 8 ♣ 10 9 6 5 3 2
♠ A K 5
Q 10
K J 10 9 7 5
♣ A 4
Forbes Martin Tisch Brown
West North East South
Pass Pass 1NT
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3NT All Pass

Rep. Brown wasn’t happy when Forbes led a spade – he had a lot of work to do and there were enough spades out to defeat him. He ducked the first spade, won the second and attacked hearts by leading the queen. Tisch won this and knocked out Brown’s last spade stopper. But Brown passed the 10 – and Tisch was helpless. He cashed the A and led a club, but now Brown was in complete control, scoring up his game.

Greenberg and Cayne found their heart fit at the other table, but one level too high.

Packwood Cayne Kastenmeier Greenberg
West North East South
2 Pass 2NT
Pass 3 Pass 4♣
Pass 4 Pass 4NT
Pass 5 Pass 5
Pass Pass Dbl Pass
Pass 6♣ Dbl 6
Pass Pass Dbl Pass

Cayne thought Greenberg’s 4♣ bid showed very good clubs – hence his run from the double of 5. Cayne’s suit certainly was mangy, Greenberg corrected to 6, but Rep. Kastenmeier took his two aces.

The match drew excellent media coverage. CNN featured the game three times – worldwide. The Omaha paper put the story on page 1 and the press services put a story on the wire.

To be continued . . .

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