Janet de Botton

Bridge | 29 July 2023

Imagination is often overlooked when discussing what makes a great bridge player. Ofc, being able to count to 13 helps, but imagination is different. It can’t be taught.

This hand, from the recent European Open Championships, features one of the most imaginative players around – Sweden’s brilliant but temperamental Peter Fredin – in the East seat. The knockout match was drawing to a close, and Peter’s team needed IMPs.

North’s 3♥️ bid was a splinter, and that was all South needed to hear before charging into 6♠️ via Blackwood. When it came around to Peter, he could see that – very likely – the only way to beat the slam would be for him to get a second-round Diamond ruff.  If he could get partner to lead a Diamond, then – if said partner gained the lead with the ♠️A, or even the ♠️K – he could score a ruff. There was also the chance that partner held the ♦️Ace, and then the only way to get him to lead it was… Fredin doubled!

It could hardly have worked out better; his partner knew that it called for dummy’s first suit, so he placed the ♦️7 on the table. Declarer put up the Ace and finessed in Spades. Well, it could perhaps have worked out a tiny bit better: West won the Spade and played… the Ten of Clubs! An unhappy declarer had to finesse the Queen, and then a very happy declarer claimed the rest.

Can we blame West? Well, probably he should have continued Diamonds, but not everyone is imaginative! True to his nature, Peter calmly put his cards back in the board and said nothing. And if you believe that…

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