The past two weeks have seen hundreds of passionate bridge players head for Montecatini in Italy for the 8th European Open Championships. The first two events, Mixed Teams and Mixed Pairs, had possibly the most exciting finals of all time — both successful gold medallists winning on the heart-stopping last board. The Pairs saw Poland’s Justyna Zmuda and her partner Michal Klukowski beat Germany’s Sabine Auken and Roy Welland by 1.27 IMPs on the last deal, while in the Teams the Russians (MNEPO) took gold from the clutches of the American/Swedish group led by Andrew Rosenthal, also on the very last board! There has seldom been more excitement, even if you were only watching on BBO.
But back to the qualification. My partner Artur Malinowski and I had some good results but not good enough to get through to the play-offs. This hand was a huge winner:
First the bidding — which was basically a misunderstanding: I thought Artur’s 4♣ cue bid showed two places to play and obviously bid my hearts. When the tray came back with 5♦ I confidently bid 5♠, not dreaming that 6♦ was going to be the final contract.
West led ♠A and another spade. Even with everything right, Artur still needed a miracle. He called for the ♦J from dummy and ran it — first hurdle successfully negotiated. Next came ♦10, a club to his Ace and Ace King of trumps pitching two spades from dummy. Now, on the run of trumps, in the four-card ending West had to keep ♣K, while poor East had to hold on to one spade honour (declarer’s ♠8 is a threat) and four hearts. Straight in, what a beauty!