Saturday, August 7, 2010

The fatal hand

I just read "The Devil's Tickets" by Gary Pomerantz, a very entertaining book published a couple of years ago (targeted to non-bridge-players) which details both the famous Bennett bridge murder and the rise of Ely Culbertson as the nation's bridge guru. I've seen the "fatal hand" which led to the murder many times in bridge publications. Interestingly, this book states that aside from the bidding, the fatal hand itself is a fabrication! The participants were social players who wouldn't have been able to reconstruct the exact cards, especially since the declarer was dead.

Unfortunately, though the book is mostly footnoted, the author gives no source for the claim of fabrication, which I nonetheless tend to believe. He says that the hand was constructed by Sidney Lenz and first appeared in The Bridge World as part of Culbertson's never-ending search for publicity. It has since been reproduced many times. If someone has the latest Bridge Encyclopedia, I am curious whether there is any mention of the supposed hand being a construction.

Too bad Hercule Poirot wasn't on the scene with the police; he would surely have reconstructed the hands accurately, even though the tricks were gathered rubber-bridge style. Yes, I also recommend "Cards on the Table" to those who have missed it.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

I've never heard it was a fabrication, although I guess it could be.

The Encyclopedia says:

"The alleged hand was as follows:"

The use of the word alleged means to me that nobody is sure.

The new ACBL Museum has a panel (or whatever it's called) that talks about the Bennett Murder. If I think of it, I'll see what it says.