I’m just back from an exhilarating week in Istanbul, where I was lucky enough to be partnering Tom Paske in the mixed teams and pairs of the European Open Championships. My plan was to stay on an extra day to sightsee, but as I was wandering into breakfast, my friend Debbie Sandford rushed up, ashen-faced. She was due to play with Sally Brock in the Women’s Teams, but Sally had had a horrible fall. She had a gash on her head and nose, and Debbie needed to take her to hospital. She’d be OK — but not today, obviously. Could I possibly find a partner and join her teammates, Marusa Gold and Diana Nettleton? A panic ensued; Marusa phoned her Slovenian friend Barbara Drinovec Drnovsek, who was also planning a day off — and with five minutes to spare we met and cobbled together a rudimentary system.
Barbara was a delight to play with. Our opponents all had elaborately detailed convention cards, while we had a napkin with a few scribbles on it. But we’d agreed on our basic carding methods — what to lead, how to give attitude and count — and that’s what mattered most. This hand against the Netherlands’ team is a case in point:
South opened 1NT and played in 4♥ after North transferred. The ♣A was led at most tables, and 4♥ was made a surprising number of times. West must have continued with the ♣K, setting up the ♣Q for a diamond discard. Barbara made my life easy. I led the ♣A, asking for attitude (the ♣K would have asked for count). Barbara discouraged with the ♣9 (we play ‘reverse’), and I switched to the ♦J. One down.
Sally and Debbie took over the next day — what a trooper Sally is, playing with two black eyes and her head in bandages — and what a performance they put in. I’m delighted to report that they went on to win Bronze… and I’m proud to have played a small part!