Susanna Gross

Bridge | 24 June 2023

I never stop being amazed by the freakishly good memories of top bridge players. Last week, at the European Transnational Championships in Strasbourg, I got into a lift with the Italian international Fabrizio Hugony. Looking at my name tag, he remarked: ‘I’ve played against you before. It was at the Mixed Championships in Belgium about 12 years ago.’ I was flattered – but why had he remembered me? ‘Because you asked a very strange question,’ he replied. ‘The bidding went one club, double, I bid a spade, and you asked if I was showing five spades.’ He remembered that? ‘In England people often have only four after a double,’ I said. He shook his head. ‘In Italy, never! Impossible!’

Anyway, I’m glad he got the matter off his chest after so long. As it happens, the next hand I sat down to play involved guessing exactly how many spades declarer held (see diagram).

As South, I can’t think why I didn’t open a weak 2♥️ – put it down to the heat. 4NT showed two places to play. I probably should have bid 6♣️ – but it was Pairs and I hoped 5♠️ might go down. It turned out to be a lucky view. But when I led the ♦️9, my partner won with the ♦️K, cashed the ♦️A and tried to give me a ruff. Declarer’s club now went away on the ♥️K. Could North have found the club switch? Possibly, but how could she know declarer didn’t have seven spades and the ♣️A? Chatting about the hand later to Simon Cope, he suggested a solution: with a doubleton and no trumps, lead low as if from three! If only I’d thought of that. It’s not a hand I’ll forget…for at least 12 years.

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