The top medal win­ner of all time

The Star Democrat - - COMICS & PUZZLES - By Phillip Alder

The 2017 In­ter­na­tional Bridge Press As­so­ci­a­tion’s Man of the Year was Bob Ham­man.

Now aged 80, he has the great­est record in world bridge. He was the top-ranked player for more than 20 years; has won 31 world cham­pi­onship medals (11 more than any­one else), in­clud­ing 14 gold; and has also cap­tured 51 North Amer­i­can cham­pi­onships.

Ham­man claims never to let a bad re­sult af­fect fu­ture boards -- though he has not had many op­por­tu­ni­ties to prove this. He never sorts his hand and has a rak­ish sense of hu­mor.

I gave my fa­vorite Ham­man deal last week, but this one was im­pres­sive also. It oc­curred dur­ing the 1983 U.S. tri­als. After a com­pet­i­tive auc­tion ended in three hearts, West led the club two: five, 10, queen. How did Ham­man con­tinue?

It looked too easy: Draw two rounds of trumps end­ing in the dummy, dis­card a di­a­mond loser on the se­cond top spade and con­cede one heart, two di­a­monds and one club. Al­most ev­ery­one would have done that -- and gone down one. Ham­man asked him­self what would hap­pen if the trumps split 4-1, which was more likely than usual given East’s take­out dou­ble. Ham­man saw that he could sur­vive if clubs were 3-3.

De­clarer cashed his club ace, played a spade to dummy’s king, dis­carded his last club on the spade ace and ruffed a club in hand. Now Ham­man cashed the heart king and played a heart to dummy’s ace. On dummy’s re­main­ing club jack, he threw a di­a­mond loser and con­ceded two tricks in each red suit.

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