I recently spent a long weekend in Lillehammer in Norway. Apparently it’s very charming, but frankly I have no idea: I only glimpsed it from the taxi to my hotel. It’s always like that when I play in tournaments abroad. Forget sightseeing – I rarely step outside. The Marit Sveaas Swiss Pairs is more intensive than most: 60 boards a day, from morning till evening.
I was lucky enough to be partnering Jessica Larsson, the Swedish women’s European champion. A mutual friend had suggested we play, and we met the night before to discuss a system. As it happens, we got on rather too well, and ended up drinking in the bar till the early hours. My hangover wasn’t the best start, especially as the standard was fiendishly high (Geir Helgemo and Peter Bertheau went on to win). But the tournament was tremendous fun – and Jessica was the most impressive woman I’ve ever partnered. I only wish I’d played as well. It was some consolation on the deal below to find out that a couple of world-class players had made the same mistake:
Jessica (South) led the ◆7. Dummy’s ◆J won, and declarer played a low club. Without stopping to think, I played the ♣J. Game over: declarer won with the ♣Q, and played a club to the ♣9 and my ♣A. It is quite wrong not to hop up with the ♣A on the first club. If declarer holds ♣Qxx it can’t cost, but if declarer holds Qx, and partner ♣10xx, the suit is blocked. Had I won and returned a diamond, declarer would be cut off from dummy’s long clubs, and go one down.