Janet de Botton

Bridge | 10 October 2020

One of the things that makes bridge so endlessly fascinating is that it is forever changing and growing. At high levels, bidding theory evolves all the time. Slam bidding has become much more accurate, conventions such as Gazzilli are used by many and transfers after a 1♣ opening are almost standard. Most good players know the percentage plays in their contracts and most good declarers will succeed or fail along the same lines as the rest of the field. The most interesting techniques for me are the ‘psychological’ plays. To imagine how things look to the opponents is something only the very best can do.

Take a look at this hand, played by World Champion Peter Berteau, in an online Pairs Event (see diagram).

North had an almost impossible bid over the weak 2♦. She chose the forcing 3♥ and at least got her best suit in, but Peter declined to support in favour of his favourite hunting ground — 3NT.

West kicked off with the ♠King. Ducking was not really an option, as a Club switch would knock out the only entry back to hand, so dummy’s Ace took the trick and the two Diamonds were cashed. Then what?

If we enter hand and take our Diamonds, are we then going to risk a Heart finesse for the overtrick (so vital at Pairs) when we’re wide open in Clubs? I certainly wouldn’t. Instead, Peter made the very imaginative play of clicking on the ♥Q from the table! East was convinced that declarer was trying to create an entry to hand with something like Jx of Hearts, so he let the queen hold.

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