Bridge

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market - An­drew Rob­son

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.

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