Janet De-Botton

Bridge | 6 July 2017

Bridge | 6 July 2017
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The European Open Pairs, the final event in Montecatini, was a long and arduous five-day slog, three of those days qualifying about a quarter of the field for the two-day final. Long Pairs events often feature a period when things are tough and it seems impossible to get any Matchpoints. How you play during these spells can define how you do in the event overall, but sometimes it can seem like the Bridge gods are conspiring against you.

Today’s hand features young English talents Ed Jones and Tom Paske, who reached the final the hard way — by winning semi-final B, which qualified only six pairs — and another London-based pair whose luck had deserted them:

West started with the ♣K. Tom won, cashed A, K of trumps and played ♠Ace and ruffed a Spade in dummy. On the face of it, declarer has one loser in each suit and should be going two down, but East has a problem: he can’t avoid giving up two tricks to dummy’s minor suit holdings!

He elected not to over-ruff the spade but took the Ace when the Queen was played from dummy and returned a low diamond. No dice. Declarer knew too much about the hand and simply discarded a Spade. A ruffing finesse in Diamonds set up his 11th trick. +850.

East, who related the hand, said that at the time they just couldn’t get a break. Doubly annoying for them was that if either North’s 8 or ♣9 had been a small card, the defence could have prevailed by giving dummy a cheap trick in one of the minors while keeping control.

Many congratulations to Turkey’s Nezih Kubac and Nafiz Zorlu, who took the gold medal.