ACBL Bridge Beat #110: Corporate America vs Congress 1996

The fourth and final showdown between big business and big government occurred on May 9, 1996 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington DC.

It was a far more difficult match for Congress than Corporate America. It was a busy day on Capitol Hill, so Congress had moments when fielding four players was a challenge. With a little help from Tom Petri, former Senator Bob Packwood and retired judge Mel Wells the Congress team (Jim Leach, Senator Hank Brown of Colorado, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, Representative James Talent of Missouri, and Representative Jim Bunning of Kentucky) managed to finish the 44 board match.

The excitement started on the first board.

Board: 1

Dlr: North ♠ A 5 2
Vul: None 10 8 7 6 5
10 8 7
♣ J 9
♠ K J 4 ♠ 9 3
K 9 A J 2
A Q J 9 6 5 2
♣ K 10 8 5 4 3 2 ♣ A Q
♠ Q 10 8 7 6
Q 4 3
K 4 3
♣ 7 6
Talent Buffett Leach Gillespie
West North East South
2♣ Pass 2NT Pass
4NT Pass 5 Pass
6NT All Pass

Gillespie led the ♠7, and dummy’s jack forced the ace. When Buffett returned a diamond, Leach led a club to his ace and cashed the queen. He crossed to dummy with the *K*K and ran the rest of the clubs.

Down to three cards, Gillespie was feeling the pressure – he was still holding Q 4 and K. Now Leach cashed the ♠K and pitched his last diamond, but Gillespie couldn’t tell for sure it was his last diamond.

Without hesitation, Gillespie discarded his low heart. Leach led a heart and went into a long study. If he went up with the ace he would score the slam, but finally he finessed. Gillespie cashed out for down two.

At the other table Corporate America made 3NT with an overtrick for an apparent 11 IMP gain. But the board was fouled! West had only six clubs at the other table and South held the J. The teams hadn’t played the same board, so it was thrown out.

Corporate America (Warren Buffett, Jimmy Cayne, George Gillespie, Alan Greenberg, Nick Nickell and Laurence Tisch) took the lead on Board 5 and never lost it, winning 162-97. The diagramed deal contributed to this result.

Board: 8

Dlr: West ♠ Q 6 3
Vul: None ♥ K 5 3 2
A 7 5
♣ 9 7 2
♠ 7 ♠ J 10 9 8 5
Q 9 6 4 7
8 6 4 Q J 10 9 3
♣ A 10 8 6 4 ♣ Q J
♠ A K 4 2
A J 10 8
K 2
♣ K 5 3
Brown Cayne Kastenmeier Shugart
West North East South
Pass Pass Pass 1♣
Pass 1 Pass 3
Pass 4 All Pass

Greenberg sat South, playing with Tisch, and brought home a normal four hearts by well-timed play. He won the opening spade lead with the queen, crossed to the heart ace and ran the jack for a successful finesse. He then cashed the king and ace of diamonds and ruffed a diamond, stripping East in that suit.

South led to his heart king and played spades. If East had ruffed with his heart winner, he would have been forced to lead clubs, permitting the king to score. He therefore discarded twice, but without improvement. Greenberg simply ruffed dummy’s last spade, bringing home a game that failed in the replay.

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