Janet de Botton

Bridge | 25 October 2012

Somerset Maugham famously called Monte Carlo ‘a sunny place for shady people’. Today über sponsor Pierre Zimmermann has rather unexpectedly turned it into the bridge capital of the world. Last week he achieved another huge win for the principality by moving the world’s biggest money tournament, The Cavendish, from Las Vegas to Monaco for a week of thrilling tournaments that attracted over 100 of the best players from all over the world.

The auction pairs event, generating a whopping €150,000 for the successful buyer, was won by astonishing Israeli Juniors Ron Schwarz and Lotan Fisher. But for me the pair of the tournament was the not very junior Philippe Cronier and Jean-Christophe Quantin from France, a no-nonsense, unflashy, steady, BRILLIANT duo, who quietly beavered away to come second.

Philippe Cronier produced perhaps the play of the tournament on this hand:

Notice how Cronier, despite holding 24 points, chose to open at the one level to keep the auction under control. West led the ♣Q. Philippe won and cashed the A, on which East threw a Diamond. This could only be from an original holding of five or more, so Philippe played a trump to dummy’s seven, and a Diamond towards hand. East inserted the Jack, but declarer won and followed with another trump to dummy, this time in order to take the Spade finesse. Now he drew the last two trumps ending in dummy, played a Diamond to the ten and cashed the last trump in hand. Poor East had to hold his two Diamonds and Kx of Spades, and was inevitably thrown in with the Diamond to lead from his ♠K at trick twelve.

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