I had no idea until last week that Burt Lancaster was a passionate bridge player. I found out after meeting an elderly man who told me that he once partnered the actor at rubber bridge. The man did something terrible in defence, at which point Lancaster reached across the table, grabbed him by the lapels and warned him never to play like that again. When I got home I googled Burt Lancaster and discovered that he did indeed take the game very seriously. I also came across a mention of his second wedding, to which he invited so many bridge players that they joked about holding an impromptu tournament.
I wonder whether he ever partnered the great British player Adam ‘Plum’ Meredith? I ask because I’ve been reading recently about Meredith, and it turns out that he and Lancaster were born in the same year (1913), both had Irish grandparents, and that in 1955 Meredith moved permanently to New York — Burt’s hometown — where he regularly played rubber bridge. Certainly if they ever did play, Burt would have had no cause to grab Plum by the lapels. Here he is in action:
West led the ♦J. East won with the ♦K and switched to a trump. Meredith could have tried a ruffing heart finesse, but he decided that if East held the ♦AK, West was more likely to hold the A♥. So he went for a double squeeze. When the ♠J held, he ruffed a diamond, ruffed a heart and ran all his trumps. In the 4-card ending, he held ♠3 ♦Q ♣K6 opposite ♥K ♣A75. West held the ♥A and three clubs; East the uA and three clubs. On the play of the last trump, West threw a club, so Meredith discarded dummy’s ♥K; East then discarded a club to hold on to his diamond — and dummy’s ♣5 was good!
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