Last weekend saw the qualifying matches for the Tollemache Cup, the inter-county championships for teams of eight. I didn’t play because …well, because I wasn’t asked. But I’m not bitter — not so you would notice anyhow. Two members of my team, Nick Sandqvist and Tom Townsend, played for London and squeaked into February’s final despite their little disaster on today’s hand.
Tom’s 6♣ bid was what Nick describes as ‘a sudden outbreak of optimism’, while the raise to 7♣ looked fairly automatic — to Nick!
On West’s trump lead, Nick stared at the dummy for a minute, then laid down the Ace of Spades and claimed one down when the King did not fall. By his own admission this was a very lame effort and he was kicking himself for not seeing the chance to put the defence under some pressure: say he ruffs two hearts in hand, which takes him up to 12 tricks, and then draws all the remaining trumps in dummy, bringing everyone down to two cards. When the last trump is played, East has to let go of his last Diamond in order to keep Kx of Spades. Declarer had discarded his Diamond first, and the 8 and 9 of Spades, leaving himself with ♠A4.
West is now under the spotlight; he knows his partner has pitched all his Diamonds, but did he count them? If he didn’t, he may fear that South is holding a small Diamond, and that he must keep his Jack. He will then bare his Jack of Spades, and the Spade Queen from dummy will bring home the bacon.
A pipe dream? Probably — but sometimes dreams come true.