Financier Nick Nickell’s teams have long been a factor in world and national events. At the ACBL Spring NABC, NICKELL (Ralph Katz,
Robert Levin-Steve Weinstein, Jeff Meckstroth-Eric Rodwell) took the Vanderbilt Teams.
In the final against Richard SCHWARTZ, NICKELL led at the half, but the last deal of the third quarter appeared to give SCHWARTZ a chance to draw close. SCHWARTZ’s North-South pair reached four hearts, while Rodwell-Meckstroth wandered into 3NT.
Against four hearts, West led a club. Declarer discarded a diamond from dummy, and East took the ace and shifted to a diamond. Declarer put up the queen, and West played low. South next ruffed a club in dummy and continued with the king and a low trump: ten from East, ace, spade from West.
At that point, South could have cashed the king of clubs, taken the top spades, ruffed a spade and ruffed his last club in dummy. Having won nine tricks, he could lead another spade from dummy and score his nine of trumps whatever East did. Instead, declarer took his king of clubs, pitching another diamond from dummy, and led a high diamond. West won and led a third diamond, and South was doomed to lose two more tricks.
At the other table, Meckstroth’s 3NT looked hopeless after West led a low club. East took the ace and returned a club: eight, nine. But then West shifted inexplicably to the queen of spades, and Meckstroth managed to make his game. Instead of losing a major swing, NICKELL gained one. They went on to win the title by a mile.