I have just returned from the annual pilgrimage to Reykjavik, home of one of the best tournaments of the year. Iceland has produced some very fine bridge players —none finer (or nicer) than Jon Baldursson, who was on the team that won the World Championships in Yokohama in 1991. One of the most interesting side benefits of playing good events anywhere is hearing the experts talk about their ‘line’ and how they reached it. Most agree that very few decisions are a complete guess. There is usually a little clue to tip the balance, if you can find it.
This hand came up in one of the matches in the teams’ tournament last week. I went down in 4♠ and Jon made it. Well — no huge surprise there but he sweetly gave me an invaluable lesson in ‘card reading’, which I now pass on to you:
West led ♦A — which already suggests that East has ♣A, helpfully verified when he switched to a club at trick two. It looks as though on a good day Declarer has only one loser (which is all he can afford) in hearts but when East returned ♥7 alarm bells started to ring. This could easily be a singleton, so Jon went up with the ♥A, West following with the 5. After drawing trump he played a heart towards dummy, West contributing the 4 and now he started to think: East could have started with one of the following holdings: singleton ♥7, ♥7 x, or ♥10 7 x. The last two he can discount, as West had followed with the 5 and 4 therefore East must have led a singleton. Eureka! He called for ♥8 from dummy (finessing the 10) and claimed his contract.
They make it sound so easy!