Now and then an event enters the annual bridge calendar and becomes an instant ‘must play’. TGRs Auction Pairs is one and Terry Hewett’s ‘Night of the Stars’ is another. Last week 53 ‘Stars’ were auctioned and played with their sponsors (all the money raised goes to charity) in what must be one of the most worthwhile nights of bridge imaginable. I was lucky enough to be taken by the lovely and talented Natasha Regan, mum to 11-year-old Oscar Selby, who plays every event he can.
My money was on Brian Senior — IMHO the best Pairs player in the country. He partnered the highly competent Rangy Rangarajan and neither of them disappointed. ‘What’s the secret, Brian?’ I gushed, naturally thinking of my column. ‘I just try to make as few mistakes as possible,’ he replied in his typically no-nonsense way.
This hand may need a microscope to spot the subtlety of his defence, but it netted a healthy 65 per cent:
Brian was West and led the ♣6 (2nd and 4th), which partner must have liked. East’s ♣10 held the first trick, and he happily continued with the King and Queen of Clubs. Now, the normal way for West to follow is ♣2 and then ♣3, to signal four of them, but Brian knew that partner would have little use of this information, and instead followed with the ♣8 and ♣2. To many of us this would not mean much, but South was another ‘Star’, who studied the carding and concluded that Clubs were probably 5-3, which persuaded him to play Diamonds from the top, for fear of letting East in. Brian scooped up a trick with his Queen of Diamonds and produced the fourth Club to take four tricks for the defence.
A small but brilliant manoeuvre.