Janet de Botton

Bridge | 29 August 2020

I have not played a single hand of bridge for about a month, neither have I kibitzed online. Ergo I have no bridge stories to tell and no players to tell them about. However, I have been reading a bit and one of my favourite bridge books is Geir Helgemo’s Bridge With Imagination. In most of the featured hands he finds some magical stardust to sprinkle over the cards, bamboozling the opps with his brilliance. Unusually, today’s hand, from the 2000 Bermuda Bowl round robin, features his teammates, fellow Norwegians Boye Brogeland and Erik Saelensminde (aka Silla) see diagram.

West led a low heart which South (Silla) won with the queen. He continued with ♥K which West had to duck, otherwise Declarer makes five spades, three hearts and ♣A; now he could only count eight. The club finesse was unlikely to work after East’s weak-two opening and he could not afford to give up a club because the defenders would have five tricks to take. South’s next move was imaginative — he played a diamond to the queen! Why? He wanted to break the communication between the two defenders. East had no answer. If he cashed his three diamond winners Declarer’s ◆10 would be good for a ninth trick and if he switches to a club, after cashing fewer than three diamonds, he can’t enjoy his winning diamonds. Declarer would simply run the club switch to dummy’s Jack. Back to the lead: understandable, but unfortunately it gave the contract. If West starts with his singleton diamond, East can cash three diamonds and switch to a club. A spade lead beats it too as West can win the first heart (blocking the hearts) and return a second spade.

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