So, face-to-face bridge is slowly returning, with EBU’s Summer Meeting in Eastbourne being one of the first to take place. The numbers were small of course, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
The Swiss Pairs on the first weekend for the Harold Poster Cup was won by England International Claire Robinson and Szczepan (Saucepan) Smoczynski.
Saucepan may at times use his bidding box more as a weapon than a means of communication, but he’s an outstandingly talented card player. Here he is wowing the field.
All but two tables played the standard 3NT, and all got the same Heart lead.
Let’s follow the normal line of play first, so we can see the problem. South wins the Heart and plays Spades, overtaking the Jack of course. West takes the third Spade and plays more Hearts, and we are not well placed at all. We don’t want to play our minors from hand, so we win the Heart in dummy, but now have to take our Spades — or we’ll never get them — and the three discards we have to make from hand weakens our options. Even if we guess to play one of the minors to a king in hand, we are still in trouble, having to lead from hand next. About half the field found a way home and half didn’t, but they all struggled.
Not so Saucepan; he won the ♥Ace and played on Spades like everyone else, but on the third round he discarded the King of Hearts from hand. To West it looked very possible that South had started with 2-2 in the majors, so she was never going to play more Hearts and give the barren dummy an entry. She tried a Diamond; East took the Ace and switched to a Club. The defence took two tricks in that suit but then declarer could claim the rest.