Ted's Bridge World Dante's Infernal

A Tribute to Sacramento's Best Player

In late 1963 my brother Ken and I discovered bridge at our college student union in Reno.  Soon thereafter we began playing duplicate, and we were taken under the wing of the local expert, George Eveleth.  He taught us much of what we know today, in the wee hours at Shakey's Pizza.

In the following spring George took us to our first-ever Sectional, in Sacramento. There he introduced us to his own mentor, Bennie Ignatz, who had taught George nearly everything he knew, in the wee hours at Shakey's.

As luck would have it, Ken and I came to Bennie's table during the Open Pairs, whereupon I promptly doubled him in five spades.  Bennie's trump holding was  AT972  in hand opposite  KJ83  in dummy, while I held the  Q64  to his left.  Bennie cashed the ace, and I played the six.  When he led low toward dummy, I followed with the four.  Bennie thought about that for a moment, then finally finessed, scoring up an overtrick.  After the hand, Bennie graciously explained to us wide-eyed novices that he had interpreted my high-low in trumps as an attempt to fool him, and we were duly impressed.

Three years elapsed before we saw Bennie again, this time at a Reno tournament.  Once again, Bennie declared a spade contract against my brother and me, with a similar trump holding of  AJT64  opposite  K982.  Bennie laid down the ace, and I followed with the five.  When he led the jack  through me, I played the three.  With no hesitation whatever, Bennie went up with the king, dropping my partner's queen!

Then he turned to me with a smile and said, "I thought you would remember."

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For the information of relative newcomers to Sacramento, Bennie Ignatz was the best player ever to have lived here for any length of time.  Due to illness, he stopped playing duplicate in the late 1960s.  Bennie's defensive expertise was recently featured in the Fifty Years Ago column in the August issue of The Bridge World.

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