Tom Townsend, my esteemed teammate and the Telegraph’s bridge correspondent, did the double last weekend at the London Easter Festival of Bridge. First he won the Championship Pairs playing with Mark Teltscher and then he won the teams playing with … me! Well — on my team anyway.
Tom and Mark have had considerable success playing Pairs together even though Mark can be found more often at the poker table. But he takes his bridge outings very seriously and ‘warms up’ by playing rubber bridge at TGRs for a couple of weeks before a tournament. His poker skills, reading the opponents and judging risk against reward, will have come in useful on this hand:
Mark was sitting South. His 1NT overcall is a fair shot at pairs, but after it got doubled most of us would run to 2♣, but most of us don’t have Mark’s chutzpah. You don’t win pairs events by chickening out. He passed and West led the ♥Q round to declarer’s King.
Now, you can clearly cash out for one down, -100. This would have given N/S a 60 per cent score, with E/W able to make a lot of tricks in Hearts or Diamonds. But we all know greed is good at pairs and calm as a cucumber Mark placed the King of Spades on the table. As the cards lay, the defence can only take seven tricks, but if East had had another Heart, this could have led to -500 or -800. Mark had read the position perfectly. East didn’t want to give declarer an entry to dummy, so allowed the King to hold, and now Mark cashed out for +180 and a top.
Excellent performance — and Tom wasn’t finished.