If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same… Well, Kipling obviously never played competitive bridge. Triumph is the only thing that counts: just ask Helen Erichsen and Fiona Brown, who did brilliantly last weekend to win the England women’s trials. You needed to finish in the top three to qualify for the Home Internationals in April. My partner Sally Brock and I had a great Friday and Saturday — but met with disaster on Sunday. Too many wrong decisions, too many costly mistakes; we plummeted to fifth place and I can still feel the bruises.
Here’s a slam I failed to make, but all credit to my opponent Allison Green:
[2♦ was an artificial game force] West led the ♠7 (strange choice but it was the end of a long weekend). I played low and was surprised to win with the ♠10. Next I played a heart to the ♥K, and Allison smoothly played the ♥9. I cashed the ♠A, played a diamond to the ♦K, and led another heart. West played low and… Had Allison started with ♥J9 or singleton ♥9? Or had she ducked smoothly with ♥A9? It’s probably right to insert the ♥10, as if she shows out I can still make four heart tricks. But I have chances even if I put up the ♥Q and she shows out. I can play off the diamonds and hope the ♦J drops. Or, so long as her distribution is 3-1-4-5 or 2-1-4-6, I can play off ♦AQ, unblock the ♣QJ and throw her in with the fourth diamond. But this is what made me put up the ♥Q: Allison only started playing competitive bridge fairly recently. It takes skill and experience to duck tricks smoothly against slams. Frankly, I underestimated her. I won’t be doing that again!