Susanna Gross

Bridge | 7 September 2017

Aren’t the Irish supposed to be lucky? The Irish open team are having no luck at all at the moment. They’re such a funny and talented bunch, but they seem doomed to fall at the final hurdle. I recently saw them at the Spring Fours in Stratford-on-Avon — they reached the final, only to be knocked out by Team Allfrey. Last weekend I saw them again at the Crockford’s Cup final in Solihull: they were pipped to the post by one agonising point.

Well done to the winners — Anita Sinclair, Zia Mahmood, Dennis Bilde, Simon Cope and Peter Crouch. This hand comes from the last session. Zia and Bilde were playing against Tom Paske and Ed Jones of Team Penfold. Even with the Irish hot on their heels, Zia (South) was his usual outrageous psyching self:

Ed Jones (W) doubled 1 as he was too strong for a simple overcall. Dennis (N) raised, and Tom (E) bid 2♠. So far so normal. But Zia knew hearts were about to be bid on his left. So he bid 3 himself! Poor Ed had no choice but to bid 4, knowing it sounded like a cue bid but hoping for the best. Tom alerted the bid, and Ed went pale. But then Tom began thinking… ‘If it was anyone else,’ he muttered glancing at Zia. He knew Zia too well: he removed his alert card, said the bid was probably natural, and passed. Zia now tried 4♠ and finally alighted in 5♦, doubled, down one — the same result as the other room. Incidentally, soon afterwards he gave Tom a lift back to London.

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