There isn’t much Nick Sandqvist (my first bridge partner, teacher and great friend) doesn’t know about bridge. He has been playing virtually every day for nigh on 40 years and doesn’t often make mistakes. He was playing Pairs at the newly reopened Acol Club when a situation came up that he had never spotted before and he went wrong.
At this point I must come clean: I think I’ve got it, but I can’t be sure. I am quite certain that if this position came up tomorrow I would do the wrong thing, but if anyone out there does benefit, Nick will be thrilled.
This was the hand.
Nick was sitting West and started with the Queen of Diamonds, won in dummy. Declarer, the clever Norwegian Ingar Hansen, played a Club from dummy to his Queen. He then drew three rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, and called for the nine of Clubs. Nick’s partner had seen his count signal in Clubs, so knew declarer had only one more Club in hand, but which one was it? South certainly played the hand as if he held Q, J doubleton, but East couldn’t tell, and after much thought she put the Ace on it, which of course set up the ♣K for a Heart discard. When Ingar then pinned the ◆9 by playing the 10 from hand, he suddenly had 12 tricks and all the match points.
‘Sorry,’ said East. ‘Well played,’ said dummy. But Nick was staring into the middle distance, deep in thought. ‘Sorry, partner. I could have stopped that,’ he said after a couple of minutes. ‘When declarer played the first Club to his Queen, I should have played my Jack under it.’ Would you have thought of that? I know I wouldn’t.