Bridge and Crossword
ALTHOUGH the English Open team fell away to finish a disappointing 10th (out of 37) in the European Championships in Budapest, the English Women won the Gold Medal, another fabulous performance by them and putting us to shame.
The England Seniors (over 60) also finished tenth (out of 24), like us outside the top seven and a qualifying place for the following year’s World Championships. Wales finished 33rd in the Open Series, didn’t field a Women’s team and finished 21st in the Seniors. Scotland finished 35th in the Open, 16th (out of 23) in the Women’s and 19th in the Seniors.
The last-chance saloon for the Open team came in the penultimate match, against Italy, both teams needing a big win for a topseven finish. The Italian captain apparently beforehand told the young pair who played us to ‘bid everything’ and all their slams duly came home.
We would have lost 20–0 had it not been for partner Tony Forrester landing this Six Hearts toward the end of the fateful match.
West led a trump, declarer winning dummy’s seven, seeing East discard (a Club) to reveal the 3–0 split. At trick two, he ruffed a club (East playing low). He cashed the Ace-king of Spades, discarding a Diamond from dummy and ruffed a third Spade. He ruffed a second club and led his fourth Spade.
If West ruffed, declarer would overruff with dummy’s ten, ruff a third Club (high) in case West had a third Club, then cross to dummy’s Queen of Hearts to lead a Diamond to his ten. West, stripped of all his non-diamonds, could win the Knave, but then have to lead a second Diamond round to declarer’s Ace-queen. Slam made.
In practice, West didn’t ruff the third Spade and now declarer had another way to win. He discarded a Diamond from dummy, an elegant Loser-on-loser play. East could win and do what he liked, but declarer could cash the Ace of Diamonds and have a high crossruff. Slam made.
A fine lead by West defeated Five Clubs on our ultimate Budapest deal.
If West had led a normal Ace of Diamonds, declarer would have ruffed, cashed the Ace-king of Clubs, felling West’s Queen, and led the Queen of Spades. East would win the King and (say) lead a second Spade, but declarer would win dummy’s Ace-knave, shedding a Heart, then lead a Heart to the ten. This finesse against the Knave would succeed and merely the Ace of Hearts would be conceded. Game made.
Knowing from the auction that few, if any, Diamonds would live, West instead began brightly with the ten of Spades. Presuming (rightly) that the Spade finesse was doomed, declarer rose with dummy’s Ace and, his last time in dummy, at trick two led a Heart (as he had to), planning to finesse the ten (as he had to).
East alertly rose with the Ace, cashed the King of Spades and led a third Spade. This promoted West’s Queen of Clubs into the third defensive trick. Down one.