I think my regular reader(s) would agree that I have been rather low-key about my bridge abilities of late. Defence for me became like a cataract-smitten eye trying to read the fine print — so much so that I began to bitterly judge myself Worst Defender in the Room every time I played.
But that was then. Since returning from my five-week self-imposed bridge exile things are looking up. The first weekend in September was the Crockfords Cup final. Eight teams who survived the six or so knockout matches met up in one of the ghastliest hotels in England hoping to claim the trophy. Chris Jagger’s (no relation) excellent squad won and… we came second!
Here is my defence epiphany: (see image).
South took the modern view that his hand was stronger than the 15–17 confines of a strong no-trump, electing instead to upgrade it (showing 18–19) and his partner raised to game. My partner (Artur Mali) led the ♠4, which went to the Jack, Queen and Ace and declarer played a high heart to my Ace. I continued with ♠10 which Artur won with his King and returned the ♠7 which I overtook with the ♠9 and carefully selected the ♠3 — ostensibly blocking the suit. Artur initially looked like he was going to explode but, professional that he is, went into the tank and tried to make some sense of the loony defence. He knew ♠2 was still out, so maybe the 3 was suit preference and, if it was, that suit would be diamonds. I don’t think he believed for a moment that I knew what I was doing but he plonked ♥8 on the table and we took the contract 3 off vul! Brainiac or maniac? Opinion is divided.