Mark Blumenthal

Tales of the Giant Crab

I first met Walt Walvick at The University of Pennsylvania. We were in the same same year and are only a few months apart in age. Eventually we were roommates for a while. Although those who saw  him later might find this to believe, he was a trim and fit marine then. Trying to shape the image he had of himself, he wanted to be called The Vike. His favorite saying was ‘who can hurt the Vike?” This was followed by a noise that sounded like a strangled parrot.

Soon after he finished school moved to the Washington DC area. Most people called him the pedestrian Walt until Peggy Parker noted that he looked just like a giant crab. That became his normal apellation until he married the former Kathy Cappelletti in the 80’s. Once Steve Parker was driving on the beltway that circles Washington and listening to the radio. The program was about the zodiac. Steve almost drove off the road when he heard the Crab actually WAS a crab.

When Walt moved to Washington he wasted no time ensuring that he would be noticed. He was at a local sectional tournana ment. The directors needed someone to play in the woman’s pairs so he volunteered. He played board seven sitting east and went for a large number. He thought he was through for the afternoon when his partner’s date finally showed up late. However, a director had been filling in as south in the men’s pairs which was using the same hands as the women’s pairs, and Walt was tabbed to replace him. Sine he had already played board seven, they asked him to call a director to watch when he came to that hand, and the result would be adjudicated, if necessary. No adjustment was neeeded as Walt and his partner failed to beat a doubled contract. Walt had accomplished the difficult task of getting a zero on a hand in both directions!

In the evening Walt thought he had no problem as he had made a date for the mixed pair well in advance. Unluckily, his putative partner had not made another one date and , but two. Walt and the other man who was not chosen agred to play in the event. In only one day Walt had managed to play in the men’s pair, the women’s pair, and the mixed with another man.

One of his most famous hands occurred in this event. Walt held, —, J10x, xx, AKJ109xxx. Upon hearing 1H to his right overcalled with 2S. Undeterred by his bid, his opponents reached four hearts. Having kept his opponents from reaching their probable spade fit, the average player would have  led the king of clubs. No pedestrian leads for Walt! As he explained later, he thought it would be a go thing if his partner gained the lead. So reasoning he chose the nine of clubs so his partner would play the queen if he had it.

With a dazed look declarer won dummy’s singleton queen. Actually, Walt had indeed stolen his opponents big spade fit. Declarer had Qxxx opposite dummy’s A9xxxxx. After drawing trumps declarer led the queen of spades., Walt ‘covered’ quickly with the king of clubs. Declarer only  noticed it was a black king and went up with the ace of spades. He still and had to lose two spades. Walt had won back the trick his lead had cost, and a legend was born.


Pink PigDecember 11th, 2008 at 5:23 pm

There were several Crab “Rules of Life”, but I only remember one of them. Crab insisted that “cows don’t move.” These things need to be written down before they are forgotten.

M BlumenthalDecember 11th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I know all three of them. I’ll get to them eventually. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want me to tell the all time best one. Right now I’m writing up some of the very oldest ones. Even he might not remember them.

Karen AllisonDecember 2nd, 2009 at 5:53 am

I think when Walter covered that Queen of spades with his King of clubs, the victim was Seymour Liebowitz, otherwise known as Seymour Unbelievowitz.

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