My friend Neil Mendoza and I had a great finish to 2017 when we won the Portland Club’s annual Auction Pairs (which is always a highlight of my year). I can’t pretend we had any real expectation of winning, but a combination of good luck, good play and flawless bidding by Neil meant we scooped the £8,000 jackpot (actually we only got half, as Stuart Wheeler had bought 50 per cent of us).
Since then, alas, things have been slipping downhill: I had a poor result with David Gold at the Year End mixed pairs, and last Sunday, a solid beating at the Young Chelsea’s ‘pivot’ teams. Time to buck up for 2018! On Sunday, amid a host of poor decisions, this hand sticks most in mind. My partner and I had an early misunderstanding in defence, and the declarer, Tim Gould, made a brilliant play to ensure we carried on down the wrong track:
Sitting West, I led the ♥K. Normally, the king asks partner to give ‘count’ in the suit — but some people prefer to give ‘attitude’ signals, and my partner thought that’s what we’d agreed. So on my ♥K he played the ♥2 (‘reverse’ attitude: encouraging). I continued with the ♥A. My partner followed with the ♥J, and South (Tim), with no hesitation whatsoever, played his ♥Q! Clearly, he was the only one who knew what was going on. Now, convinced that my partner had started with ♥J42, I assumed the ♥J was a suit-pretence signal, showing the ♦K. It was vital, then, to switch to a diamond. If I played my winning ♥10, declarer might ruff, draw trumps and play ♣A and another club for a diamond discard. Of course that was exactly what Tim wanted: he won the diamond in hand, drew trumps, and discarded his club on the fourth diamond.
Things can only get better…