Janet de Botton

Bridge | 07 November 2019

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Erikas Vainikonis and his father Vytas are terrific bridge players and have supported the game very generously. Their brilliant new website, BridgeScanner, gives us all a fuss-free location to get the information we need on tournaments around the world, including live running scores. Their other gift is a five-day mini festival, starting with the Grand Prix of Poland Teams and Pairs and finishing with two days playing the highly prestigious Vilnius Cup. Impeccably organised, super friendly and with a world-class field,  it is held in Vilnius, the beautiful capital of Lithuania. This year’s final saw the two Vainikonis teams facing each other with Erikas’s squad emerging the winner. Many congrats.

Today’s hand is not about making or defending a tricky contract, it’s about psychology, table presence and that indefinable way a great bridge mind works — even though it could be unsuccessful. Here is Poland’s Michal Klukowski, youngest World Champion on record, tackling 6.

North’s 2NT showed a weak hand with both minors and South (Klukowski) made the practical decision to jump to 6, landing himself in a very decent contract. 6 was played at a number of tables — always making since, when East overruffs the third round of Spades, it is at the expense of his trump trick.

Klukowski found a different line; he won the Diamond lead in dummy and played a Spade to his 10! If this had held, it would have been a claim if Spades are no worse than 4-2 or trumps behaved. Now it lost, but West reasonably assumed that Declarer’s Spades were much weaker, so he wasted no time in returning a trump… I don’t know who’s right, or which is the better line — you have to (a) think of it and (b) be able to read your opponents. The beauty of the game.