Succumbing to your emotions at the bridge table can be fatal. Whatever you’re feeling, get a grip! Easier said than done, of course. I’m usually pretty composed, but last week I felt an inexplicable sense of anxiety while playing on Jonathan Harris’s team. It’s always a privilege to be asked, and I felt acutely embarrassed that my underbidding led to two missed slams. I gave myself a stern talking-to afterwards, but what turned out to be a far better tonic was watching Marusa Gold — a regular on the team — display so beautifully the true importance of holding your nerve. She was South, North was her partner Todor Tiholov:
1♣ was ‘Precision’, showing 16+. 1♠ was game-forcing with 5+ hearts. After setting clubs as trumps and cue-bidding, Marusa bid 4NT keycard — she knew Todor had no keycards, but it was a clever way of making the next step (5♥) to ask for the ♣Q. Todor’s 5♠ confirmed the ♣Q plus the ♠K, and Marusa bid the grand.
West led a club to her ♣7. She cashed the ♥A, played a club to dummy, ruffed a heart, club to dummy, and cashed the ♥K, West discarding a spade. Next she ruffed another heart (West threw another spade), cashed the ◆A, crossed to dummy’s ♠K and cashed the last two hearts, throwing diamonds. Dummy’s ◆10 was the menace Marusa needed: West discarded the ◆J and then an uncomfortable ♠10. Perfectly reading the situation, she played a spade to the ace, dropping his ♠Q, and claimed. Superb!