The New Year got off to a great start with TGR’s annual auction pairs, the best run tournament I have ever played and one of the most fun. It’s matchpoint scoring, meaning every trick makes a difference — certainly not my forte as the pained face of my partner made clear every time I sloshed away an overtrick. My teammate Nick Sandqvist, playing with his regular partner Tom Townsend, showed how it’s done when he magically led declarer astray on today’s hand:
Nick was West and led the ♣7. The start of the play was normal enough: declarer won in hand, led a Heart to the King and another one back, Tom (East) winning the 10 and playing another Club. South won in hand again, and tried a Spade to the King and Ace. East gave Nick a Club ruff, who then exited a Spade, ruffed by South.
The ruff has weakened the defence, and declarer is now in a position to make the contract, by simply ruffing the Hearts good with dummy’s 9, 10 of Diamonds and knocking out the Ace of trumps.
But that is against an ordinary defender. When South played a small Heart from hand, Nick promptly produced the Ace of Hearts from his A,J! Declarer naturally asked for a small trump from dummy, and East scored an over ruff with the eight. That was the cake, and the icing was added when East played back yet another Club, promoting Nick’s A,J of trumps into two tricks. Two down gave E/W 70 per cent, while 3♦ making would have given them only 8 per cent. Excellent play, guys — but not enough to win. That honour went to the only female partnership in the tournament, Solvi Remen and Paula Leslie. YAY!