Janet de Botton

Bridge | 8 May 2021

The Lady Milne is the annual Women’s Championship between the home countries (and Ireland) and is most often a two-horse race between the ‘Dragons’ (England) and the ‘Nessies’ ( Scotland).

This year the event was held on RealBridge and — wouldn’t you know it — the two arch-enemies met in the last round with England having the slenderest of leads.

The Scottish women needed to beat their English counterparts by at least four IMPs, and at the halfway stage they were up 14. In such situations, it’s not bad to have one of the world’s highest ranked female players, Sally Brock, waiting in the wings, this year in partnership with Nathalie Shashou who was making her England debut.

England did indeed pick up a few minor swings, and then came this hand.

The auction and contract were the same in both rooms. The English declarer received a small Club lead, won cheaply with the ten. The ◆9 was allowed to run to East, who shifted to a Heart. South took that, lost another Diamond to East but had nine tricks: three Diamonds, three Clubs and Ace, King Ace.

At the other table, Nathalie also led a Club. Here, too, declarer ran the Diamond nine, but Sally in the East seat let it win! Another Diamond was played to the Jack, but now it suited Sally — and England — much better to take and play a Heart. The Scottish declarer squirmed for a while, but could eventually do no better than go to dummy with the last entry and test the Diamonds — eventually conceding when they didn’t come in.

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