ISBN: 978-0-9664286-1-2

Masterpiece Deals: A Gallery of Beautiful Card Play

Augie Boehm

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84 pp.


Bridge has inherent beauty. When a human being possesses abundant imagination and creativity, a deal will occasionally be sparked by a flash of brilliance. Brilliance contains its own kind of beauty, like a special jewel or work of art. Some bridge players find beauty in an intricate bidding sequence that arrives at a pluperfect contract. The beauty will be enhanced if the result depends upon partnership collaboration and inference rather than the product of a specialized convention. Others may enjoy a complex squeeze that pushes a playerⳠanalytical capacity to the outermost limits, planning many moves ahead and foreseeing multiple variations, much the way a chess grandmaster thinks.

What I happen to admire most are the moments when a player produces a master stroke of card play, a striking move that would elude even the majority of experts because it involves the highly unusual. And yet, all the key winning plays in this collection have a logical underpinning; no black magic is involved, only the ability to think outside the box and think quickly.

Alphonse "Sonny" Moyse, for many years Editor of the esteemed magazine The Bridge World and a keen observer of the bridge scene, wrote, ぬmost all experts play by habit--only a handful of players are capable of making a play they have never seen before.䠗hat Moyse meant was that an expert with thousands of deals and stacks of books stored in his data bank can extract what is needed to match the deal he is confronting. But when entering uncharted waters, the data bank might not suffice---creative thinking must substitute. Moyse was spot on---the top tiers of experts contain many engineers but fewer artists. This is not to denigrate engineers--winning bridge is often the product of continuous, remorseless accuracy. A championship player might never create a brilliancy and still emerge on top. And the artist might find that his masterpiece is nullified by too many unforced errors. The ideal players combine elements of both.

This collection of deals features card plays of such creativity and imagination that I believe they deserve to be preserved as museum pieces to engage appreciative audiences, both present and future. While you promenade through the galleries, you are offered the chance not only to admire the artistry but also to follow the artistⳠthought process.

As self-appointed curator, my credentials are someone who has spent 10,000 plus hours involved with music, mostly as classical pianist, including forty-two solo recitals at New YorkⳠCarnegie-Weill Recital Hall, also as a composer, plus professional experience with musicals and cabaret in the roles of conductor and singer, all with great pleasure and the deep satisfaction that involvement with the arts can bring. Iⶥ also put in 10,000 plus hours into bridge, playing, writing, and teaching. Naturally, another curator would disagree with some of my inclusions--there is always the eye of the beholder to consider. Nonetheless, I⭠confident that anyone with a taste for the beauty in bridge will enjoy this collection, and, like an art collection, often there is interesting background about the artists. In assembling these deals, I have been ably assisted by several colleagues whom I will credit as we go, but I am most indebted to triple-threat Barry Rigal, player, writer, and commentator, who generously dug into his vast archives to resurrect several remarkable deals. The descriptions and comments, unless specifically noted, are my own. Not every deal is taken from actual play. Some are compositions, no less worthy of our appreciation because they elevate a beautiful idea into bold relief. The span is from the early days of contract bridge (the 1930s) through the present. Let us begin our promenade.

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