I realised long ago that I almost never play bridge with a partner worse than me. Occasionally, I cut a palooka at rubber bridge — but they probably think the same about me. I mainly play with professionals and they always have something kind and constructive to say when the defence goes pear-shaped: ‘Cover an honour with an honour’ or ‘Why did you cover dummy’s Queen?’ ‘Ducking is for experts’ or ‘Why didn’t you duck?’ ‘You must split your honours’ or ‘Why on earth did you split?’ And my favourite, ‘Never lead a singleton trump’ or ‘You had to lead your (singleton) trump.’ It’s properly doing my head in!
Today’s hand was given to me by the wonderful Victor Silverstone, Scottish senior international, who never gives conflicting advice except when dealing with the ♦9, known as the Curse of Scotland:
Looking at the deal, it’s hard to imagine that the ♦9 could possibly have an effect on the outcome of the hand, but ‘The Curse’ moves in mysterious ways. Victor was East, and when his partner chose a trump lead, he won and made the natural switch to a Club. Off two trump losers and two Aces, declarer was in deep trouble, but he cashed his King of Hearts and played off his Clubs, discarding Diamonds from dummy. Two Diamonds went away, East following, and on the last Club South threw dummy’s remaining Diamond. Victor could see that if he didn’t ruff this, declarer would play a Spade towards the King and be able to ruff one of his Diamonds and discard the other on the King of Spades.
So, he ruffed the last Club and led a small Diamond, but South put in the eight…