I have a horrible feeling my column this week is going to read like a mutual-back-scratch. In the last issue, Janet wrote about my team winning the Hubert Phillips Trophy (which gave my ego as much of a boost as winning the thing itself). Now her team has gone and won the ‘Patton Lavazza’ at the Summer Bridge Festival of Biarritz — so it’s my turn to congratulate her.
The coastal town of Biarritz hosts one of the most popular events on the international bridge calendar. Quite apart from the stunning James Bond-location and the huge number of players who take part (including several jet-setting bridge stars), it offers generous prize money — a rarity in bridge. Janet and her team have been coming for many years, but have never won the teams competition until now.
One of the things I admire about Janet’s bridge is that she’s never fazed by anything or anyone. She doesn’t get nervous, or try to show off; she just plays a steady and impressive game. This deal came in the last round. Victory was within their grasp and the pressure was on:
North’s 2NT was Jacoby (game forcing in hearts). Janet was East. Her partner led the ♠3. Declarer paused for a moment to survey the dummy — giving Janet crucial seconds to plan her defence. She knew from West’s ♠3 (4th highest or honour-third) that declarer held 3 or 4 spades. When declarer called for the ♠2, Janet won with the ♠A, hoping he would place West with the ♠K. She then smoothly returned the ♠5, putting declarer to a guess. When he inserted the ♠10, the contract was down. A cool cucumber, that Mme de Botton — and a well-deserved victory.