It’s the beginning of May and I have a feeling I am about to write the same opening sentence as I have for the past eight years: the Schapiro Spring Foursomes is undoubtedly the best teams tournament in England. Held in Stratford, it’s a double knockout format and this year it was won by Alexander Allfrey’s (mainly) English National team who, rather unusually, lost a life in the first round. Bravo to them for holding on to their second precious life for the next four days.
Today’s hand is about knowing your percentages, working out how to play the hand correctly according to those percentages and then losing ten IMPs to me, who did the wrong thing for no discernible reason.
My partner was the brilliant young Israeli Dror Padon. We were playing Sandra Penfold and the percentage king, Brian Senior, whose teammates were an extremely strong Bulgarian pair. Both Wests thought of leading a spade but didn’t, instead choosing a high heart, which I won and called for the ♣2 from dummy. Brian contributed the ♣7 and without much thought I popped in the ♣8 …which held the trick! Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was and I quickly wrapped up nine tricks.
‘How did we do?’ I asked Dror as we waited to score up. ‘Well — we’ve definitely won your 3NT hand,’ he said, ‘because the Bulgarians will certainly make the percentage play and go down.’ Er …what percentage play?? ‘Yes,’ continued Dror, ‘there are three honours missing and only two small cards, so the correct play for four tricks is to lay down the Ace and play towards the 9 should West drop an honour.’
Brian, however, had another view and suggested that the appearance of the ♣7 from East makes a crucial difference and that, noting this card, I had outperformed the pro at the other table and deserved my 10 IMP swing! Clearly!