Susanna Gross

Bridge | 18 September 2021

Bridge | 18 September 2021
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‘Table presence’ is a funny old expression in bridge. You might think it means what it would in any other context — that someone’s presence can be felt; that they command respect or dominate the table. In fact, it means something else altogether: you may be quiet and meek as a mouse, but if you are busy watching your opponents and gathering information from their behaviour, you have table presence. Artur Malinowski, the manager of TGR’s, is someone who has it to a frightening degree. When he’s your opponent, it’s not your cards you need to keep close to your chest, it’s your very thoughts. This hand is from the recent Crockford’s final.

North’s 2NT showed both minors. 3♥ asked: 4♥ showed 6–5 and a void. West led the ♠2 (playing 3/5th leads) and Artur (South) captured East’s ♠J with his ♠Q. Next he played a diamond towards dummy, and called for the ◆Q. ‘Did you say ◆Q?’ asked East. Artur nodded — and East won with the ◆A. Poor East’s question had already told Artur where the ◆J was. East returned the ♠9. Artur won, ruffed a heart, played a diamond to the ◆8, ruffed a heart, played a diamond to the ◆K, ruffed a heart, and came back to hand with the ♣K. Next he cashed the ♥A, and without pause, West discarded a club. Artur took stock. He knew West’s distribution was 5314. West’s first two spade discards had been easy. But his third club discard had also come easily: he hadn’t wanted to release his ♠K in case Artur had the ♠8. But surely holding four clubs to the queen he’d have had more of a problem, more to consider? So Artur decided East had started with ♣Q8. He played a club to the ♣A, dropping the ♣Q, and claimed.