Country Life Every Week - - Books - An­drew Rob­son

MY team threat­ened to snatch de­feat from the jaws of vic­tory in last year’s Gold Cup quar­ter fi­nal. We’d built up a de­cent lead early on, but our op­po­nents kept chip­ping away at it. Here is the penul­ti­mate board.

West led his fourth high­est eight of Di­a­monds. De­clarer, Manch­ester’s John Hol­land from the op­pos­ing Green team, had to de­cide whether to play West for Acek­ing, in which case, he had to rise with dummy’s Queen or Ace/kingK­nave, in which case, he had to play low from dummy and run the lead to his ten. There were two Ace/king-knaves and only one Acek­ing, so he played low.

East won the King and re­turned a sec­ond Di­a­mond. De­clarer had played the four, then the ten to hide his two, so West thought his part­ner might hold King-three-two and in­serted the Knave, to re­tain com­mu­ni­ca­tion in that sce­nario. De­clarer won dummy’s Queen and cashed three rounds of Clubs, fin­ish­ing in hand, East dis­card­ing a slow Spade.

West was the dan­ger hand, with two long Di­a­monds, so de­clarer led a Spade to his seven and dummy’s eight. (The nor­mal play of lead­ing from dummy to­wards the Queen was too risky as West might win the King.). East won cheaply with the nine and switched to a Heart.

De­clarer tried the nine of Hearts, beat­ing West’s ten with dummy’s Ace. De­clarer cashed the fourth Club, both de­fend­ers throw­ing a Heart, then led (to) the Ace of Spades, forc­ing West to make another dis­card.

West would have done best to dis­card another Heart, bar­ing his Queen. This would force de­clarer to guess to lead to the King of Hearts and fell his Queen. In prac­tice, West let go a Di­a­mond. De­clarer could now exit with a Di­a­mond, let­ting West cash two Di­a­monds, but then, at trick 12, lead from the Queen-eight of Hearts round to de­clarer’s King-knave. Game made.

Here is the ul­ti­mate board.

West led the seven of Clubs and de­clarer won dummy’s ten and re­flected that West al­most cer­tainly had to hold all the miss­ing high cards for his dou­ble. He there­fore re­jected the Heart fi­nesse (run­ning the ten, then lead­ing to the Knave), which would have seen him make eas­ily. In­stead, he played out Ace-king-queen and a fourth Di­a­mond, West dis­card­ing three Spades and a Heart.

East won the fourth Di­a­mond and led a sec­ond Club, West win­ning the Ace and lead­ing a third Club. De­clarer won and could but cash the fifth Di­a­mond and bang down the Ace-king of Hearts, hop­ing the Queen would fall. It didn’t—down one.

Even af­ter play­ing the top Di­a­monds hop­ing for a three-two split, de­clarer could have suc­ceeded. He shouldn’t have given East his Di­a­mond win­ner—bet­ter to have led the ten of Spades. Let West win the Ace, as he has no good play. He can’t duck a Club or dummy’s Queen wins and if he plays Ace and another Club, com­mu­ni­ca­tion to his long Clubs is gone.

We re­turned to our team­mates ner­vously to score up. For­tu­nately, team­mate Tony For­rester had made Three Notrumps on the penul­ti­mate board (al­though we lost a swing on the last). On to the semi-fi­nal.

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