England had a narrow lead going into the second weekend of the Camrose, with the Irish National team and the Irish Bridge Union team (the host country gets to field two) in hot pursuit. The highly effective partnership of Espen Erichsen and Glyn Liggins (England) defended today’s hand against Wales while the two Irish teams played each other. Tom Hanlon and Hugh McGann, Ireland’s strongest pair, defended the same contract in their match. Was England going to keep its lead?
Espen kicked off with the ♠2 and declarer paused for thought. If he played the Queen and East covered with the King, he would potentially have an entry to dummy to enjoy the heart suit. Equally if he played the ♠9, and North covered with the Jack, he would again create the vital entry. He decided to play the Queen and that was the end of his chances. He could only come to two spade tricks, one heart, two diamonds and three clubs.
Now look at what happened in the all-Irish match on the same lead: the CBAI declarer played the ♠9 at trick one and, realising the position, Tom Hanlon found the brilliant play of the ♠3, withholding his ♠J and thereby denying South a later entry to dummy. Declarer gave it his best shot by overtaking his own ♠9 with the Ace and began establishing hearts. Hanlon ducked the first, took the second and got off lead with a low club. South played a diamond toward dummy’s Jack, McGann pumping up with the Ace to play a second round of Spades. Decision time! Play the Queen and you are home. Play the 10 and you are two down. After a long think, South played the 10 — wrong decision this time — but what
a great defence.