Bravissimo! The Italians have won gold yet again at the European Champions Cup. The event was launched in 2002, and since then Italy has won all but twice. England has never won, but as the host nation this year we got to field two teams, and they came third and fifth — not quite so magnifico perhaps, but still our best result yet. I was, as usual, glued to BBO, and saw some thrilling bridge. Almost every N–S pair managed to reach 7♠ on this deal — not all made it, but Dennis Bilde, for Italy, and David Bakhshi, for England, showed perfect technique:
Against Bilde, West led the ♠3. Bilde won with the ♠Q, cashed the ♠A, led a heart to the ace and ruffed a heart. He continued with a diamond to the ace and ruffed another heart low, then played uK and ruffed a diamond with the ♠J. A third heart ruff established the ♥Q and he now drew the missing trump, throwing dummy’s club loser, and claimed the last three tricks with the ♣AK and ♥Q. A perfect line — working whenever diamonds are 3–3, or hearts 4–3 or ♥Kx. Note that had he touched clubs earlier he’d have had no entry to the ♥Q.
Against Bakhshi, West led a club, which meant he had to go for a 3–3 diamond break, a heart finesse, or a squeeze against East. He won the club, played a trump to the ♠10 and cashed the Q♠. Then he played ♦AK, and ruffed a diamond with the ♠J. Next came the ♣K, a club ruff, and three more trumps. He was down to ♥5♦10 opposite ♥AQ. East was down to ♥Q♦Q. Unerringly, Bakhshi played a heart to the ♥A, dropping East’s ♥K.
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