Janet de Botton

Bridge | 15 September 2016

The 15th World Bridge Games (formerly known as the Olympiad) began on 3 September in Wroclaw, and is providing more thrills than Captain Poldark’s ever-disappearing shirt, which I fear is in danger of being written out altogether. In the Open section, three groups of 17 teams played a full round robin within their group, the top five in each qualifying for the playoffs.

Today’s hand features the marginally less ripped (but shirts intact) bridge giants Poland’s Michal Klukowski, the youngest ever Open world champion, and Geir Helgemo for Monaco, widely considered the best player in the world, pitted against each other in an extremely delicate 3NT. Surprisingly, they both made errors despite taking an unusually long time in the play.

Helgemo led 4 (the only lead to give South a problem) and Declarer tanked for five minutes before putting up the Ace, which was the first mistake. If he puts in the 8, on the lie of the cards the contract cannot be beaten, as all the commentators were quick to point out with the useful advantage of being able to see all four hands. Next came the K which held the trick followed by Ace and King of spades (stripping West of exit cards) and the 2 to the jack and Ace. Now it was West’s turn to think and he emerged, correctly, with the 10, tucking declarer in hand. South played off his winning diamonds leaving the defence to find two discards. After a long think, Helgemo made a rare mistake: first he discarded a small club. On the last diamond he could either have discarded a small heart or the QUEEN of clubs, but when he pitched the ♣9 Declarer could endplay him by exiting with the ♣K.

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