February is probably the most exciting and glamorous month in the bridge calendar. A couple of weeks ago, über-sponsor Pierre Zimmermann held his Cavendish Monaco Teams and Auction Pairs tournament, which attracts the best players in the world, all vying for a chance to pick up the big player’s pot or score in the auction. I played the Pairs with my regular victim Artur Malinowski — known by all as Bidonemoreski!
Mind you, it’s very tempting to overbid playing with Artur; his declarer play is so brilliant and he seems to conjure up tricks from thin air. Occasionally, when my dummy goes down, his ‘Thank you, partner’ has the ring of a cat being strangled, but heigh-ho, he usually brings home the bacon. Today’s hand (from the Cav pairs) shows the creativity of his play:
West led the ♠7 and Artur put in the Queen from dummy hoping that opener had both top honours, but East won his King and they cashed the first four spade tricks. West switched to a club which Artur won in dummy. Declarer needs 5 club tricks but with ♦A/K and ♥A he still has only 8 tricks. If anyone can find a way home it’s Artur and after a long think he cashed the ♥A (a Vienna Coup) to set up the squeeze against West. Next came a diamond to his Ace and he ran all his clubs, the Jack dropping as required. In the two-card ending West cannot hold ♦Queen/Jack and ♥King. Straight in, what a beauty! Interestingly, on a Diamond lead (which looks best for Declarer) 3NT can’t be made as it takes away the entry to South’s hand and he can’t enjoy the Clubs. Next time, Simon Gillis’s amazing Lederer Memorial Trophy.