It’s August — that time of year again — and I am in France, as usual, on my annual holiday. Hot sun, delicious food and drink, yet still the bitter shadow of envy casting its pall. I am missing Brighton and the two-week congress that everyone I know is playing.
Many congratulations to my teammate, Tom Townsend, who won the Brighton Pairs, playing with Mark Teltscher. Tom’s immense experience helped him work out the best way to make East go wrong on this hand:
1♣ was prepared, and West’s choice of lead was the passive ♠5. Clearly, the defence have missed their best lead of a Club but the question was how to convince them to continue Spades, rather than finding the deadly switch.
First, Tom played the ♠King from dummy. Apart from looking like a panic-card, it has a chance of winning trick one, and he wouldn’t have to worry about a switch. Worryingly, East took the Ace, and pondered for a few seconds — the Club switch clearly on his mind — but he decided it was too risky. He cashed the ♠Queen instead and Tom followed with ...what?
These decisions make all the difference at Pairs. The Jack won’t do, as East can see that partner would have led ♠10 from 10 9 8 5 4 2, and the ♠9 suffers the same fate. Tom followed with the ♠10 (and West with the 2), and as this was all consistent with West having led the 5 from J 9 8 5 4 2, East really had no option but to continue with another Spade.
+630 was worth 85 of the 94 match points available, while –200/300 would have been very poor indeed.
Well done, boys!