Susanna Gross

Bridge | 03 October 2019

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The world bridge championships are finally over — and I don’t remember another where the England players gave us such an exhilarating two weeks. All four teams — Open, Women’s, Seniors and Mixed — performed superbly. Particular congratulations to the Seniors, who won silver, and the Women, who won bronze.

But perhaps the biggest thrills and spills came from the Open team. In this toughest of fields, they made it to the quarter-finals, where they faced the mighty USA1 (every member a previous world champion). As winners of the round-robin qualifier, USA1 could choose their opponents, and in truth, few expected England to survive the two-day battle. But after day 1, USA1 were not just behind — they were an incredible 63 IMPs behind: it was the most dramatic trouncing of the tournament. How could they recover? But the next day, they did — and it was truly gut-wrenching to watch. By the time the dust had settled, they had won by 195–162. England had produced magic, but USA1 had produced even more. Take this example. Artur Malinowski–David Bakhshi were N–S, Bobby Levin–Steve Weinstein E–W (See diagram)

East (Levin) guessed from the bidding that N/S had length in both majors. So he led the A♠, and continued with the ♠9 — suit preference for diamonds! Weinstein ruffed. Trusting his partner’s signal, and knowing that he wasn’t asking for a diamond ruff as he’d have led a singleton, he switched to the 9, suit preference for spades. He swiftly got his second ruff. They were the only pair to beat 4 across all four divisions. Ah, well, it was a beautiful defence. Next time, England!