When I first started playing tournament bridge there were relatively few European sponsors. The US was buzzing with sponsored teams — many of whom were selected to represent their country and a few of whom became world champions. There is no greater education for the ‘inexpert’ than discussing the boards with great professionals and letting the magic unfold before your eyes.
The young Danish superstar Dennis Bilde played for me in the first Vilnius Cup a few years ago — and in an extremely strong field we won! When you come out from a set and compare scores with your teammates, it is easy to gloss over flat boards that appear to be of no interest. If you don’t go out for the customary dinner later in the evening, you may never find out what happened on them. Here is a hand showing Dennis giving his all to defeat a simple partscore:
At the first table, North opened a strong 1NT and quickly found himself in 4♠ where he lost a Spade, two Diamonds and a Club for one down. If I had called out ‘minus one hundred’ and my teammates had said ‘flat’ I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but in the post mortem over dinner it turned out to be a hand to remember.
At the other table, North did not see his hand as a vulnerable strong NT facing a passed partner, so opened 1♣ instead. He then raised his partner’s 1♠ to 2♠, which became the final contract.
West hit on the Diamond lead, and Dennis in the East seat won the Jack. He took a brief look at dummy and switched innocently to the seven of Clubs. Declarer won this and played Ace and another Spade. West won and played his second Club. Perfectly reasonably, South played low in dummy. Dennis won the King, gave his partner the Club ruff, and took the contract one off with two more Diamond tricks.
Dinner’s on me…