Susanna Gross

Bridge | 29 May 2021

One of the pleasures of kibitzing online tournaments is that when an intriguing hand comes up, you can flick back and forth to see how different players tackle it. I’m drawn in particular to players whose boldness and imagination always make them highly entertaining to watch — two of whom are Artur Malinowksi and Steve Root. On this deal from last week’s OCBL May Cup, neither of them disappointed. Starting with Steve, who was North.

West, Gunnar Hallberg, opened a strong 2♣. East’s 2◆ was a relay, and 3♥ was natural. What lead do you think Steve led against 3NT? You got it — the ♥4! South’s ♥10 won, and back came a heart — one down. Outlandish as it looks, it was a sensational lead — East was likely to have at least five hearts (with four small ones he may not have bid them), and Gunnar obviously held long diamonds. Steve rightly figured that if he cashed his four top hearts, that would be it for the defence; his best hope was to find his partner with the ♥10.

At another table, Artur was West.

It’s not often you jump to 3NT with a void in an opponent’s suit. But again, Artur’s bid was well-considered: South hadn’t supported hearts so maybe East had a stopper; and besides, North might lead his partner’s suit. North cashed his four top hearts, and Artur claimed the rest.

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