Main     Column 7C73 by Richard Pavlicek    

“Wizard of Ozzie” Remembered

The late, great Oswald Jacoby — or “Ozzie” as he was affectionately known — probably contributed more ideas to bridge than any one person. While most famous as the inventor of the Jacoby transfer bid, he also pioneered the use of weak jump overcalls, forcing two-notrump bids, and many other structures that are commonplace today. Furthermore, he was a great tactician — one of the shrewdest bridge psychologists that ever lived.

What impresses me the most about this man was his unselfish, devotion to our country. At the outbreak of World War II he voluntarily curtailed his bridge career to rejoin the Navy, where he served as a commander in Intelligence. His expertise as a code-breaker was invaluable to the Allied cause. He did so again during the Korean War, and was a staff member at the final armistice conference.

I had the pleasure of being a teammate of Ozzie in his last major bridge victory, the 1983 Reisinger Cup, from which today’s deal arises. Edgar Kaplan of New York City was North, and he played the role of straight man as Ozzie engineered a clever bidding coup.

6 NT S A K 8 7 6 5
H A 3
D A 3
C 10 5 4
Both Vul


All Pass

1 S
2 S
4 C
5 D
5 NT


2 C
3 NT
4 S
5 S
6 NT
H J 9 7 6 2
D Q 10 4
C K J 8 7
Table S Q 9 3
H 8 4
D J 9 8 5 2
C Q 9 3
Lead: H 6 S 10 4 2
H K Q 10 5
D K 7 6
C A 6 2

Ozzie began with a lead-inhibiting two clubs, and then jumped to his favorite contract. North thought he was worth a club raise — Ozzie might have held a real suit — and South retreated to four spades. North liked his slam chances so he made an ace-showing bid in diamonds, and South declined again. When North made one more try with five notrump (natural), Ozzie could not resist bidding the impossible slam.

Fortunately for us, “impossible” is not a part of Ozzie’s vocabulary, as he quickly demonstrated. Did you notice the unbid suit? That’s right. Hearts! West, as would you or I, led a heart into the wizard’s parlor and 12 tricks were forthcoming after giving up a spade to East. The only lead to let him make it, to be sure, but like Boulder Dam or the Panama Canal, a great engineering feat.


© 1-24-1988 Richard Pavlicek