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Things looked ripe for a Harvard victory in the national Intercollegiate Bridge Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn. over the weekend.
Harvard had not won since 1961. Partners Eric Robinson, a sophomore life master, and Art Moore, a second-year student at the LawSchool, had won the New England Regional qualifying tournament in February by a comfortable margin. With the win came an expense-paid trip to the finals in Knoxville and a $500 scholarship for Harvard.
The pair was on a hot streak, having won their last six duplicate matches. The Sunday before the tournament Robinson played on a five-man team with Alan Truscott, bridge editor for The New York Times.
Truscott has published six of Robinson's hands in his column since 1972. On Friday, the first day of the tournament, he included one of the pair's recent hands and called them "one of the favored pairs" in the intercollegiate tournament.
The tournament itself resembled a more-publicized sports event held over the same weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. Unfortunately, the Harvard pair played more like Cojak than Bold Forbes, finishing seventh out of 15 pairs from around the country.
Like the Derby, the tournament was a two-horse race from wire to wire. Larry Robbins and Larry Mori of the University of Michigan led all the way with consistently excellent session scores of 101, 100 and 98 1/2, for a 299 1/2 total. They edged out a University of Colorado Medical School pair by half a point to win a $2500 scholarship for their schools.
"Concentration is a major factor and after we had made several mistakes we became progressively more upset with our game, which affected our concentration," Robinson said yesterday. Their total for the 13-hour, 84-hand event was 250, as they were consistently in the middle of the field.
The pair generally played well against the best opponents but had lapses against the weaker pairs. "There were several very good pairs but most were not experienced as we are in tournament play, but that didn't keep them from taking good scores away from us."
Robinson learned bridge as a ten-year-old and has been playing at the tournament level for five years. He became a life master over the summer and now has 400 master points. Moore has also been playing for about five years but has less experience. They began playing regularly last year at the Harvard-Radcliffe Duplicate Bridge Club.
The tournament field ranged from one player who had been playing for only six months to a 19-year-old who was 49th on the McKenney trophy list in 1975, a year in which he won 555 master points.
Robinson would like to go back to the tournament next year but stresses that there are many other good pairs in New England that they will have to beat first. Of this year's tournament field only one of the pairs and two other players were repeating from last year.
Radcliffe won the first Intercollegiate Tournament in 1940, and Harvard has won three times, in 1941, 1956 and 1961. Cornell, which won in 1965, was the last Ivy school to win.
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