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A Tribute to Charlie

  by Richard Pavlicek

The bridge world took a great loss with the recent death of Charles Whitebrook. Everyone appreciated and respected this man, not only for his expertise as a bridge player, writer, editor and publisher, but also as a humanitarian.

I am hardly qualified to comment on his entire career — he was winning bridge tournaments before I was born; but I can express some thoughts on his later years.

Charlie, as he was affectionately known by his friends, loved the competition of tournament bridge. I was most impressed with his accomplishment in March of this year. Despite the pain and suffering of a fatal illness, he attended the Gold Coast Spring Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale. Attended, heck! He won the Swiss Team event with a perfect record (yes, he beat my team too).

I can vividly recall a deal that Charlie played against me about four years ago. As South, Charlie wasted no time in jumping to four spades after his partner’s one-notrump opening.

4 S South
Both Vul
S Q 2
H A Q 4 3
D A 10 9 8
C A J 3

1 NT
4 S
S 9 6 4
H J 6
D K 7 5 4
C Q 9 7 4
TableS 8 5
H K 10 9 8
D Q J 6 2
C K 8 6

Lead: H J
S A K J 10 7 3
H 7 5 2
D 3
C 10 5 2

West attacked by leading the heart jack and declarer could see nine easy tricks. After some quick mental calculations, Charlie grabbed dummy’s heart ace (finesses are child’s play), drew trumps in three rounds (discarding a heart from dummy) and led a diamond to dummy’s eight. That’s right, he put in the eight of diamonds!

As East, what was I supposed to lead now? I defy anyone to beat four spades after this play. A heart return would obviously lose a trick; breaking the club suit gives declarer a second club trick; and a diamond return allows declarer to establish an extra diamond trick with a ruffing finesse (or a loser-on-loser play if East leads an honor).

Charlie, of course, had the ending all figured out as he tabled his hand to claim the contract.

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© 1984 Richard Pavlicek