I was very sorry to learn of the death of the legendary American player and author Eddie Kantar – he was still writing articles with such youthful vigour that I had no idea he was 89. Kantar was considered to be the greatest player-teacher-writer of all time. The clarity of his writing, combined with his self-deprecating humour, brought him legions of fans from across the world. I have an entire row of his books on my shelves – including classics like Complete Defensive Play and Bridge For Dummies – which I’ve been thumbing through for 20 years. As the English player John Cox put it: ‘To many of us, his death feels like losing a friend, albeit one we had never met.’
Kantar was an equally brilliant player, winning two world championships. And as a bridge teacher, it’s no exaggeration to say that his jokey, anecdotal style made him the most popular in America. And as if that wasn’t enough, he was the only person to have played in both a world bridge championship and a world table tennis championship.
Here’s the great man in action.
North’s 5♥ asked for a diamond control, but Kantar felt too weak to bid 6♥. West led the ♦A, and another diamond. Kantar ruffed, and played a heart to the ♥K. It would be easy to get careless now and play a club to the ♣10, then the ♥Q. West would win and play a spade or club, locking you in dummy and forcing you to ruff a black suit, which West would overruff. Kantar took the simple precaution of cashing the ♠AK and the ♣A before crossing to the ♣10. Now, after playing the ♥Q, he could ruff whatever West returned, draw the last trump, and claim.
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