Janet de Botton

Bridge | 9 May 2020

Bridge | 9 May 2020
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This weekend should have been the Schapiro Spring Foursomes, sponsored by Helen S., widow of the legendary Boris. Held in Stratford-upon-Avon, it is my favourite EBU event of the year, with its double-knockout format attracting very good teams from far and wide This is just one of many worldwide tournaments to have been cancelled — certainly until September. And then, who knows?

Now in the seventh week of lockdown, it is difficult to see how we are going to be eased back to the table, with real live people coughing and spluttering and actual cards touched by all the players. Is it masks and rubber gloves from here on in?

Obviously, ‘safety first’ should be the mantra, in daily life, just as in our contracts. The hand below is an example of a type of hand that crops up all the time — and is misplayed all the time.

West smartly decided to lead a trump rather than his singleton in Declarer’s side suit. South won and started that side suit immediately, playing Ace and King of Clubs. But West ruffed and played his last trump and it was goodnight Vienna. South needs to ruff three more Clubs in dummy but there are only two trumps left.

The reason the right play is so hard to spot is that it feels unnatural to give up a trick in a suit where you don’t have any losers (especially in slam) but a bit of thought could have led Declarer on the right path — which is to cash one high Club and duck the next one. Even with the 5–1 break, no one can stop him ruffing two Clubs in dummy now.

Stay safe everybody.