One thing the bridge expert must have is fantastic concentration. In The Fireside Book of Cards, edited by Oswald Jacoby and Albert Morehead, is told the story of Maxim Litvinoff, Soviet statesman, who was playing bridge one evening in June, 1941.
I had just bid a grand slam and the dummy was about to go down when the telephone rang. Litvinoff later recalled. It was Moscow. Germany had invaded Russia. Litvinoff was, needed in Moscow immediately.
I dashed upstairs, packed a bag
But how did the grand slam come out? he was asked.
I never stopped to find out, Litvinoff replied.
Maxim Minchnovitch, said one of his listeners, you will never be a bridge player.
It would be interesting to speculate what would have happened had Vanderbilts frequent partner, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz, been in Litvinoffs place at the playing table.
Von Zedtwitz, to the story goes, once was Vanderblits partner a top tournament at New Yorks Ritz-Carlton Hotel. He was pondering hit reply to Vanderbilts bid of three spades when a passing waiter stumbled and spilled a whole pitcher of Ice water on Von Zedtwitzs shoulders.
The break in his train of thought was all but unnoticeable as Von Zedtwitz shrugged off the ice cubes and said, Dont do that again, I dont like It four diamonds.