The England ladies trials, two weekends ago, were as exciting as ever, but also rather heartbreaking for me and my partner Marusa Basa. We took an early lead and kept it up until Sunday morning, when our match against Heather Dhondy and Abbey Smith (the eventual winners) turned into a car crash, setting us back five places. We never recovered after that. Many congratulations to Heather and Abbey though, and I’m not saying that through gritted teeth — it was well deserved and they’re two of the nicest women in bridge.
As for Marusa and me, time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start practising for the European women’s pairs in June. An important part of preparing for tournaments is not just playing, but also watching and reading about the way experts tackle hands. Of course, most of us can only fantasise about pulling rabbits out of hats in the same way they do. Take this hand played by the Norwegian Jan Hugo Lie recently:
West led his singleton diamond to the ten and ace. Lie played a heart, taken by West’s ace, who played another heart to dummy, Lie discarding a diamond. A spade to the ten was ducked by West, and Lie played the ace of spades and a spade to West’s king. At this point, Lie held ♠9, ♣KJ9654. Dummy held ♥KQ9, ♦87, ♣Q8. South held ♠J5, ♦965, ♣A10. West continued with the nine of spades, and Jan Hugo let it hold the trick! West now had to lead away from his king of clubs, giving Lie his entry to dummy’s hearts, and the contract was made.