The bridge world has lost some glittering stars this (ghastly) year, the latest being France’s Catherine d’Ovidio — multiple world and European champion. She described herself in a recent interview as a ‘difficult partner, lovely teammate’. I prefer Tony Forrester’s comment on Bridgewinners: ‘She was adorable and a really outstanding card player.’
Today’s deal is from the World Mind Games held in China in 2012. Many pairs reached 3NT, but only one brought it home (see diagram).
Three rounds of spades cleared the suit for the defence and revealed that West had started with six spades. Catherine had seven top tricks and two more could easily come from the diamond suit. She banged down the ace and the king of diamonds, not wanting to lose the lead to West, and discovered that the diamond suit could not help her. Ten of West’s original cards were now known. A 3-3 heart split would give declarer two more tricks, but it was very unlikely that all three of West’s unknown cards would be hearts.
As East was known to have started with ten cards in hearts and clubs, as opposed to only three for West, East was three times more likely to hold any specific card in either of those suits. Going with the odds, d’Ovidio crossed to dummy with the ace of hearts and led a club to her jack. That worked, and the entire distribution was known after she cashed the ace of clubs.
D’Ovidio led a heart to dummy’s king and another heart to East. East could cash one more heart, but then had to lead a club into dummy’s K-10.
RIP Catherine. You will be missed.