Call me nuts but on 29 December I left lovely, sunny, delicious France for the fairly unlovely Royal National Hotel to play the year end’s last event, the one-day Swiss Teams. God it was fun. I hadn’t played a hand in 12 days (and counting) and we were all in a great mood (unusual), rested (unheard of) and winning our matches big (lovely). We needed only to avoid a massive defeat in the last match and the title was ours. We drew my friend Simon Gillis, playing with Norwegian world champion Erik Saelensminde. Were we complacent? Yes. Were we awful? Yes. And did we lose big? Yes again. Take this disaster:
The ♣K was led at both tables and won in dummy. Declarer played a trump to hand — getting the bad news — and a heart to West’s Ace. At this point the two defences diverged; my team mate (who shall remain nameless) cashed the Queen of Clubs and gave his partner a ruff. This was a hapless defence — completely ignoring the need for a fourth trick. Declarer is now in total control. He can win any switch, draw trumps, and his hand is good.
At my table Erik gave the situation its due attention, and found the best shift of a diamond. South won and tried to knock out the ♣Q by playing a small Club from dummy. Simon, in East’s seat, realising how important it was to keep control of the hand, ruffed in and forced South with a Diamond.
After this excellent, dynamic defence, declarer was helpless: if he didn’t draw trumps, East would score another ruff, while if he did, he would not have an entry back to hand while the ♣Q was still with West. One down and a well-deserved victory for Simon and his boys.