I’m not a great fan of online bridge but I must admit, lockdown has provided a real opportunity for players to improve their game. The endless choice of duplicates, and the ease with which they can be played, means many people are playing far more than they used to. That includes the international stars of the game, who can be seen battling it out daily in invitational tournaments. It’s never been easier to watch and learn; in fact, it’s downright addictive. I spend most evenings flitting between matches to compare how they bid and play the same hands.
This seemingly dull hand cropped up during the recent ‘Alt Invitational open Teams’. At most tables, the contract was 3♠ by W or 4◆ by S. But then I clicked to the de Botton team and saw Artur Malinowski playing in 4♠. A level too high: he’s not nicknamed Bid-one-moreski for nothing. But we’d all bid one more if we could play as well as him.
North led the ◆Q and continued with the ◆2. Artur ruffed in dummy and played a spade; North won with the ace and exited with a trump. Time to concede one down? Not for Artur: he spotted a small psychological chance. He played the ♥4 to the ♥K, came to hand with the ♣A and advanced the ♥8. You can hardly blame North for not rising with the ♥A. But when she ducked, Artur had triumphed: he won with the ♥10 and played a club. South was endplayed: a club would set up dummy’s clubs, so he played the ◆K. Artur ruffed and discarded the ♥5, then ruffed out North’s ♥A for a stunning +420.