If someone had told me in February 2020 that virtually the whole world would be going into lockdown for well over a year, I would not have believed it was possible. But if someone had told me I would choose football over a bridge tournament, I would have laughed my head off. Well, I’m not laughing now. My heart (and my money) is with England, but sadly, as we all now know, they didn’t bring it home. I wouldn’t have missed it, though. I watched with a group of bridge players who all abandoned the green baize for Wembley. It was the first time I have seen most of them since lockdown struck, unless you count the Zoom post mortems that have been gathering online to discuss hands. Here is one of them:
West started with a Club. Usually it’s best to try to establish the side suit as soon as possible, so declarer won in hand and played two rounds of Hearts, ruffing low in hand. He went back to dummy in Clubs and ruffed another Heart, this time with the ♠10. West could beat that with the Queen and play a trump, but South could ruff the Hearts good with his ♠8 and now dummy was high.
The post-mortem discussion focused on whether South should ruff the third Heart with his ♠8 or ♠10 and, after a bit of a debate, they agreed that it came to the same thing. Then one of the pros saw another angle; they were right as far as setting up the Hearts was concerned, but that’s not the only consideration. If Hearts break 3-3 and you ruff the third round with the ♠10, then you’ll lose two natural trump tricks if East started with Q9xx, while ruffing with the ♠8 would cope with a bad trump break. Tricky, this game!