Can there be a game more humiliating than Bridge? Last weekend the boys and I went to Warsaw to play the marvellous Palace Cup. I was bursting with excitement as I was playing with my number one Bridge God Geir Helgemo. Lest anyone should think that Helgy woke up one morning and said, ‘I know — I’ll dump Tor Helness and play with Janet,’ it was, as they say, a professional arrangement. I have played with him once before, many years ago when I had been playing for about 10 minutes. I cleverly managed to transfer most of the hands to him and do what I do best: put dummy down. We did rather well and I was properly up for showing him how much I had improved. Sadly, that did not happen. I was truly madly deeply awful. Every hand I declared went down. Every hand I defended made. I exaggerate — but only slightly.
Here is Geir showing how it’s done:
West led the ♠2. Geir (South) rose with the Ace, cashed the ♣Ace, played three rounds of Diamonds, ruffing in hand, and a Heart to the Jack. East was not happy; he scooped up his two heart tricks and the top Spade, but then gave a grumpy ruff-and-discard. Declarer won and took the Club finesse for +620. All done and dusted in a matter of seconds.
It looked easy enough, and I thought I might very well have found the same play. It wasn’t until the post-mortem at dinner that I understood the brilliance: cashing the Ace of Clubs! East cannot be allowed to exit with a singleton Club, or declarer will have a natural loser in that suit.