Janet de Botton

Bridge | 3 July 2021

Bridge | 3 July 2021
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I have a confession to make. I did something I haven’t done for over 20 years: I went on holiday. A proper holiday. No bridge, no card games of any sort. No online kibitzing and no bridge reading or discussing. Just endless Covid tests and quarantine coming home — the only small problem being nothing to write about. ‘The Real Deal’ by Larry Cohen in the ACBL’s Bulletin magazine features one of the last hands played by the super-gifted Justin Lall, who tragically died last year, aged 33.

West led the ♥A and Declarer (Justin) made a plan. He needed the diamond finesse to work but he also needed to keep his major suit losses to three. At trick 2 West switched, correctly, to his ◆3, which Justin accurately read as a singleton, reasoning that no one would lead away from the ◆K in this position. A good defender (which West was) would either cash another heart or try clubs as the likely source of defensive tricks.

Accordingly Justin crossed to the ♣A to lead the ♠J from hand, covered by West and won by Dummy’s Ace. Now another spade would have been fatal. West would win and, guided by his partner’s carding at tricks 1 and 2, would know to cross to the ♥Q to get a diamond ruff for one down. But declarer saw this coming. Placing West with just one diamond it was likely he had the missing high and low spade. The solution? Justin played a club to the Jack, and another back to hand. When West followed, he continued with the master ♣Q; West was forced to trump this or the heart would disappear from dummy, but now all the defence made was 3 tricks in the majors. .