Mark Blumenthal

Bridging It

When I lived in Kansas City I heard stories of hustling even in bridge. I remember one particularly. Dave Carter was one of the midwest’s best players in the 60’s. He usually lived in St Louis, but moved to Kansas City for a while. Maybe the best hustler there was Ayers Bombeck. One day Bombeck and Carter were playing golf on a course that belonged to a ritzy country club. In the locker room they heard two men discussing how good they were at bridge. Bombeck approached them and managed to steer the conversation back to bridge. He arranged to get them to agree to play a high stakes game on the next day. As they were heading to the match Bombeck warned Carter that their opponents were not experts, and he should not reveal they knew much about the game let alone they were much better than their opponents. Two hands went by uneventfully, but in the third Carter and Bombeck reached three no trump. Seeing he had little chance to make it Carter proceeded to play it in fine form making it by executing a complicated double squeeze.

The two pigeons, not knowing what had happened, looked at each other in amazement. Bombeck asked if they could be exused for a brief time.

He motioned to Carter step away wth him. Bombeck angrily said to him, ” You should not have played the hand that well. ”

Carter said, “It was nothing, just a simple squeeze.”

“Just remember”, snarled Bombeck, “There’s a lot of money there. From now on there will be no squeezes, no endplays, and damn few finesses!”


Judy Kay-WolffNovember 17th, 2008 at 2:14 am

There are many delightful rubber bridge stories about the proverbial ‘pidgeons’ who support the game. Of course, I recognized the names of Carter and Bombeck but I did not know them personally. It reminded me of another rubber bridge tale. During the mid-Sixties, I kibitzed at the old Cavendish Club at the Drake Hotel in Philadelphia. One of the regulars was an adorable and beloved retired gentleman by the name of Melvin Savitz who enjoyed playing — and whose bank account would not suffer if he lost. It was obvious, however, the members couldn’t wait until he became their opponent. He had a darling sense of humor and I well remember his famous line: “When I play with you, you expect me to perform like Charles Goren but when I play against you, you want me to play like Melvin Savitz.”

Pink PigNovember 19th, 2008 at 7:13 am

I remember this story. I first heard it from Garrett Nash. IIRC, Bombeck’s first name was pronounced “Arris” — I’d never seen it spelled out before.

I don’t remember Judy’s story, though. But I can remember many others, as I’m sure you can. You could always start with my beloved.

Pink PigNovember 19th, 2008 at 7:17 am

BTW, FWIW, Pink Pig is Bill Daly, who hasn’t played bridge seriously in donkeys’ years, but who retains a fond memory of the old days. The origin of the handle Pink Pig is much more boring than it sounds, but the physiognomy works OK.

M BlumenthalNovember 19th, 2008 at 9:08 am

Bill – For some reason I can’t see your other comment this way. I think the origins of many of the good stories are very old.


Ray LeeNovember 20th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Welcome to bridgeblogging, Mark — I’m looking forward to seeing more of these stories!

Jack SpearNovember 22nd, 2008 at 11:48 am

Good to hear from Mark, and good to hear more stories about the old guys, Bombeck & Carter–Playing with those guys at “Bridge A La Verne” in Kansas City was “the good old days” for rubber bridge.

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