Susanna Gross

Bridge | 20 January 2024

Bidding would be so much easier if you didn’t have opponents. Imagine if you and your partner were given a clear run, without interference from those pesky players on either side. But that’s not bridge. Getting in your way is what opponents do – at the highest level possible. Having to judge whether to bid up, shut up or double them is where the real money is.

This deal from the first division of the 2023 English Premier League showed perfect judgment by all four players:

North, Andrew McIntosh (‘Tosh’), opened a light 1ª. East, Derek Patterson, made a vulnerable pre-empt of 2«. South, Tom Paske, bid an artificial 2NT to show an invitational or better hand with heart support. West, Phil King, jumped to 4«. Back to Paske, who made the fine decision to bid 5ª, despite holding only three trumps.

Every player was now trying to work out who was saving, and who was bidding to make. 5ª made it past King, but Patterson, influenced by his seventh trump and the fact that his partner must be short in hearts, bid 5« (spot on). Tosh, certain that Patterson would not bid again at adverse vulnerability without at least a chance of making, decided that the six-level would be a cheap save: he bid a superb 6ª. Phil closed the auction with a double to reach absolute par on the deal.

Patterson led his ♣A and switched to the ◆Q. Tosh won with the ◆A, drew two rounds of trumps, then ruffed his spade. When he exited with a diamond, Phil won, cashed his ♣K, and played a third club, which Patterson ruffed. Down three – EW +500 instead of +650.

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