Susanna Gross

Bridge | 6 January 2024

One of the things I like most about bridge is that it allows you to be sociable without actually having to talk to anybody. At the Year End Congress, held between Christmas and the New Year, it was lovely to see all the familiar faces. But what a relief not to have to answer the sort of bland questions people usually ask. ‘Did you have a good Christmas?’ etc. I much prefer people asking about things they really want to know, like: ‘Do you play standard count?’ As for that dreariest of greetings – ‘How are you?’ – must I really bore us both with my reply? But it’s never dull to be greeted with: ‘Hello, are you weak or strong?’

I played the Mixed Pairs with my friend Kevin Castner. On this board, he found the only lead to beat 3NT:

The bidding was the same at nearly every table, and most players sitting East led the «K or «Q. The better declarers correctly ducked. The play continued as follows: they won the spade continuation with the «J, and led a low club. West followed small. East won with the ¨A and played a third spade to South’s «A. South now played the ¨Q, confident that West would win the trick (otherwise East would have had the points to open at the one-level). After winning with the ¨K, West exited with a diamond and declarer had ten tricks, losing just a spade and two clubs.

Kevin, however decided that leading a spade honour at Trick 1 would be a mistake, as declarer would surely duck. Instead, he played the ♠8. Declarer won with the ♠J and now had to hope that West (me) held both of the missing club honours. When he led a club at Trick 2, I hopped up with the ♣K to return a spade.

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