As Susanna reported last week, England’s amazing Ladies Team took Gold in the European Championships having led virtually from the first board. It was Nicola Smith’s seventh title, moving her into third place on the all-time list and a fourth title for Sally Brock and Heather Dhondy. Special mention must go to the ‘youngsters’ — Susan Stockdale and Fiona Brown, who won their first title and led the Butler with an astonishing performance. A great team and a great result.
Today’s hand had an interesting twist. It was played by the young Bulgarian Julian Stefanov who came up with a rather clever ruse to try and guarantee his contract — which rather confused me I must admit.
West led the ♥J, and declarer went into the tank. What was he thinking about? It seemed obvious: win the Heart in hand and set up the Diamonds. Stefanov, however, was planning ahead: after the defence returns a Heart, he has to find discards on six rounds of Diamonds, which means that he has to bare one of his black Kings leaving him in a position where he has to read the hand very accurately not to go down in the endgame. After a couple of minutes, he did something that had certainly not occurred to me. He won the Heart in hand, played the ◆Q and, naturally, overtook it in dummy. Then he played another top Diamond and discarded the Ace of Hearts from hand — looking like a man in need of an entry! After this, the defence was not going to play another Heart, come what may. West shifted to the ♠♠Q, which was allowed to run to South’s King. Stefanov then produced the ♥6 and claimed nine tricks!