The recent Open European Championship was won by Israel — but right up to the end, Monaco and England were snapping at their heels (they won silver and bronze respectively). I suspect Monaco’s Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio Nunes are still having nightmares about the hand-of-horror that cost them gold (though it cheered me up no end — I’m always shamefully exultant when giants of the game show they too can utterly humiliate themselves). They were playing against England’s Tony Forrester and Andrew Robson:
A right old balls-up. Nunes obviously thought Fantoni’s 3♥ was a transfer to spades, Fantoni thought Nunes’s 4♠ was natural — and off they went. Forrester’s diamond double asked partner not to lead the suit. Robson led his singleton heart. Nunes rose with the ace and played a club to his ♣A, then ran the ♥Q. Robson discarded a club, Forrester won and switched to the ♦J. This was an excellent play: the whole hand was about locating the ♠Q. Had Forrester played a club, Nunes would have had to ruff in hand, and would then have no choice but to cash the ♠K and run the ♠J in the hope Robson held ♠Qxx. A diamond return allowed Nunes to discard both losing clubs on the ♦Q and ♦A — so he no longer had to ruff one. Nunes continued with a spade to the ♠A, and one back to Robson’s ♠Q! Why was this so bad? Because, in bridge parlance, he had ‘insulted’ Forrester. If Forrester had held the ♠Q, a club return would have defeated Nunes. Did he really think a player of Forrester’s calibre would have played a diamond away from his ♦K without good reason?