As Janet said last week, the recent European Open trials made for compulsive viewing. Ten pairs took part; first and second place would join Andrew Robson and Tony Forrester (the only pre-selected pair) to represent England in the European championships in June.
At the end of four gruelling days, the winners were Jeffrey Allerton/Chris Jagger, and Artur Malinowski/David Bakshi. They played brilliantly, but in all honesty, so did almost everyone. I was reminded time and again that at the top level, it’s not so much perfect technique that gives you the edge — every player is an expert — but bold and accurate bidding. It’s all about knowing when to be aggressive and when to go quietly; when to pressurise the opponents and when to play safe; when to double and when to sacrifice..
Take this hand. David Bakshi judged things perfectly and had the guts to back up his judgment; it’s not often that players sacrifice at the seven-level when vulnerable:
West (Espen Erichsen) opened a strong 2♣. Malinowski’s double showed both majors. Bakshi jumped to 3♠, and although NS did their best to obstruct EW further, Erichsen had no problem bidding grand slam. Now Bakshi found the brilliant bid of 7♠. He didn’t just evaluate his hand perfectly, he also trusted both his partner and his opponents. Malinowki had passed 7♣; he hadn’t doubled, so he obviously thought it might make. As for Erichsen — he’s a very disciplined player who doesn’t bid grand slams lightly. Time to sacrifice! West led the ♦A, and when the dust had settled Bakshi had lost two hearts and a club for minus 800. In the other room, 7♣ was bid and made, so EW gained 2140.