ENGLAND has never done well in the European Champions Cup. Last year’s fifth place out of 12 was our record best. Here are two interesting Forks from the event, held near Milton Keynes, a rare home venue (the last major European or World event outside Junior Bridge to be held in Britain was in 1988).
North- South did brilliantly to avoid Six Diamonds by North, with East’s Heart lead through dummy’s Ace sinking the slam. West wisely didn’t lead a Heart, nor a Club, instead selecting a Spade.
Declarer beat East’s Knave with the King and counted 10 top tricks. He could easily make an 11th trick in Clubs, but what about the 12th? West’s Two Heart bid plus his non-club opening lead suggested that he held the Ace and, at trick two, declarer found the key play of leading a low Club towards dummy’s King.
West had to duck or declarer had two Club tricks, so dummy’s King won. Declarer now envisioned a three-card ending in which he would hold in dummy a small Club and Queen-small of Hearts; in his hand, the Queen of Clubs and Ace-small of Hearts.
West would be unable to keep three winning cards—he’d likely reduce to King-knave of Hearts and the bare Ace of Clubs, but a Club exit at trick 11 would finish him off.
Declarer crossed to a top Diamond, cashed the Ace of Spades, throwing a Heart from dummy and now ran all the Diamonds. Exactly as predicted, West reduced to King-knave of Hearts and Ace of Clubs, whereupon a Club exit saw West win and have to lead a Heart from the King-knave.
Dummy’s Queen and declarer’s Ace scored the last two tricks and that was a fabulous 12 tricks and slam made.
Our final Champions Cup deal saw declarer use Fork technique to avoid a guess for the Knave of Spades.
West led the Knave of Diamonds to East’s Ace and East switched to a passive Heart. With East holding Ace-queen of Diamonds, the odds favoured West holding the Ace of Clubs (far from sure, although East certainly couldn’t hold all three missing Aces).
Declarer won the Ace of Hearts and led a low Club towards dummy’s King, the key fork.
West had to play a low Club or declarer would have two Club tricks and a crucial Spade discard. However, declarer now won dummy’s King, crossed to a Heart, cashed the King of Diamonds, discarding a Club, ruffed a Diamond and now exited with a second Club.
West won the Ace, but with both minors eliminated, such a lead would allow declarer to ruff in dummy and shed a Spade from hand. The alternative of a Spade would solve declarer’s Knave-guess, so that was 10 tricks and game made.