When my talented friend Paula Leslie and I decided to put a team together for the Hubert Philips Bowl (England’s mixed teams championship), it was really just an excuse to see more of each other. Six undefeated matches later, and our team has won the cup! We’re all elated: we beat Sandra Penfold’s team by a small margin, but to beat them at all is a feather in anyone’s cap. Team Penfold, featuring the mighty Brian and Nevena Senior, are a force to be reckoned with. Indeed, just the previous day, they had won a Crockfords match in style.
Funnily enough, it’s a hand from that match, rather than my own, that I want to relate. Brian Senior showed it to me, and it demonstrates dramatically how careless talk costs tricks. Brian was South, Sandra North, and they reached a superb grand slam:
East’s 2♦ was the sort of obstructive bid players make at favourable vulnerability. West led the♦2. Brian won with the ace, cashed the ♠AQ, and ♣A, and came to hand with the ♠K. Next he cashed the ♣KQ. Had trumps split 2–2 or clubs 4–3, slam was cold. Now he had to make a choice: should he finesse the ♥K, or pitch a heart on the ♦K and take a ruffing finesse? Would East have overcalled with just a queen? Yet West surely held longer hearts so, a priori, was more likely to hold the ♥K. Brian thought long and hard, led a heart and… West piped up with: ‘Seems like one off.’ At which point Brian confidently played the ♥A, discarded a heart on the ♦K, and took the ruffing finesse!