Bridge

Bridge

6 July 2013

9:00 AM

6 July 2013

9:00 AM

Zia Mahmood has never been the most punctual man — but I wonder whether he’ll ever be late for a bridge tournament again? He and his partner Jan Jansma were favourites to win the European Open Pairs in Ostend last week. In the final, they were neck-and-neck with the German player Sabine Auken and her partner (in life as well as bridge) Roy Welland. In the end, Auken-Welland won by just 0.9 per cent — or 3.35 IMPS (international match points). Only later did I find out that Zia had been fined 4 IMPS for turning up a few minutes late that morning.

When I rang to commiserate, he said he’d been buying cough medicine, but was delighted for Auken and Welland. So am I: it’s the first time a woman has won the European Open Pairs. ‘She’s up there with the top male players,’ Zia told me — and that’s not something I’ve heard often. This hand from Ostend shows Auken in action:

Welland’s 2 was a transfer, and 4♠ a singleton slam try; Auken signed off in 4NT. South led a diamond. Auken cashed three rounds, unblocked the ♠Q, came to hand with the ♣Q and cashed the last diamond. North knew a heart or club discard would give declarer an extra trick, so she threw a spade. Mistake: three round of spades later, North had to discard on declarer’s ♠10. Dummy still had three clubs and was down to a singleton heart. North opted to discard the K. Now Auken cashed the ace and ten of clubs and exited with a low heart. South, knowing that North, if she won, would have to concede a trick to dummy’s ♣K, executed a crocodile coup by rising with the ace. And now Sabine made 12 tricks when South had to concede the 6 to her master 7!

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