Since the beginning of September I don’t think there has been a single weekend when my team was not away playing in one or another tournament, so when I received an email asking everyone from the first division of the Premier League if they would like to play the Champions Cup in Israel I decided to stay in bed. What a mistake! It was a fabulous tournament attracting all the top European teams, predictably won by the Italian National super-squad. Frances Hindon and Graham Osbourne and Nick Sandqvist and David Burn represented England and after a great start they sadly lost their first play-off match against a strong Polish team by one IMP. On this board David and Nick managed to defeat an impregnable contract against one of the legends of the game, Poland’s Krzysztof Martens:
North’s opening club showed 16+ points and Marten’s 1NT response showed 8–11 points with no major. David, sitting West, led the Jack of Clubs which was not as strange as it looks. Nick hadn’t stuck in a bid over the opening which made it possible that he had clubs. This time David hit the jackpot in an unusual way: Martens won the Ace, crossed to dummy in spades and played the Jack of Hearts covered by the Queen and King. He went back to dummy with a spade and advanced the ♥8, which he let run when Nick played low. Unexpectedly in with his ♥9, David continued with the ♣4 and, as even the great Martens can’t see through the cards, he played the nine from dummy! Nick had an entry to the fourth Club with his Ace of Hearts and the defence scored three tricks in Clubs and two in hearts!
When Martens realised what had happened he sat back and roared with laughter!
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 24 November 2012