The Hubert Phillips Bowl is one of my favourite tournaments of the year: a friendly, knockout event with a rather quaint rule that all teams must include at least one woman. For some reason, this normally leads to teams of men plus exactly one woman — as though the woman represents a handicap. So, in a spirit of defiance, my team — captained by Sarah Ewart — has broken the mould: we have a preponderance of women. We did well in the 2016 bowl (which started last year), reaching the semi-finals. We began this new 2017 season full of confidence, turning up last week (three women and one man) to play against Bernard Teltcher’s team (three men and one woman). But, calamity — our first match and we’ve been knocked out! Oh well — they beat us fair and square, and I wish them the best of luck. But the hand of the evening probably belongs to our man, David Ewart, who made a most unlikely 3NT when the other team were in a more sensible 5♦:
We play 2-over-1 is forcing to game, so David bid 1NT. His 3♥ suggested concern about spades. Nevertheless I bid 3NT and hoped for the best. An inevitable spade was led. David saw at once that 5♦ was where we belonged. But he didn’t give up. He realised the only hope was clubs. There was no point playing the ♣Q to pin a singleton ♣J in East’s hand: he’d be stranded in dummy. So he had to hope the ♣K was a singleton. He played a low club and West’s ♣K popped up. He won, but the suit was still blocked. Here was his beautiful solution: he cashed the ♥A, then played the ♣10, winning East’s ♣J with his ♣Q. Now he cashed the ♥K, discarding dummy’s ♣9, and ran the rest of his clubs for an overtrick!
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