It was impossible to imagine, when I filed my column a fortnight ago, that I would be writing this one in a new and totally unrecognisable world. All places of social activity have been closed, which of course includes bridge clubs, and all games, leagues and tournaments have been postponed ‘until further notice’. The last event to take place was the trials for the World Bridge Games due to be held in August in Salsomaggiore. Eight teams competed over three days and two would qualify for the two-day final. Those two teams were Black and Phoenix and I don’t think anyone would argue that Black was the favourite. But these are strange and unpredictable times. Phoenix went into the last 16 boards more than 60 IMPs down... and emerged the winners by one single IMP!
Here is a hand that shows how a seemingly innocuous play can cost a match (See diagram).
West led a small Diamond and the defence quickly took four of those, declarer and dummy discarding Clubs, and exited with
Hearts three-three would be welcome, or there’s always a chance that someone is holding four Hearts and K,Q of Clubs and can be squeezed — but that’s it, right? If that doesn’t work, declarer can wash his hands of guilt, knowing he had done everything he could. Or did he?
When the hand was played, declarer called for the ♣J from dummy and East fatally covered with the Queen. Wrong! The threat had now been transferred to West who was the only one to stop the ♣10 becoming a winner. Four rounds of Spades were cashed and West was squeezed for nine tricks.
Take care, everyone. I wish you well.