I felt like an absolute hypocrite the other week. Sally Brock’s team had just beaten Alexander Allfrey’s in the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. They were due to go face to face against Simon Gillis’s team in the final the next day. I texted Sally: ‘Good luck, hope you win!’ Later that afternoon I bumped into Simon, who is also a friend, and heard myself blurting out: ‘Good luck, go get ’em!’ Well, I meant it both times; man cannot live by logic alone.
Anyway, the following day I decided to go and watch some of the match at the Young Chelsea; naturally I was feeling a little anxious about being expected to root for either side. As it happens, by the time I arrived Gillis was so far ahead that it was easy enough to get away with offering commiserations and congratulations at the same time. Zia Mahmood, playing on the Gillis team, had just racked up even more points on this hand, which he showed me with some relish:
Hanlon made a take out double and Zia overbid (by his own admission) to 4♥. West led the ♦K. Zia won and produced some instant magic: he played a low spade. It was hard for East to hop up with the ♠K and return a spade; she ducked. The ♠Q won, and West petered with the ♠10 (perhaps not the wisest card). Zia now led a heart to his ♥10 and East’s ♥A. East exited with a trump. Zia won, played a low spade to the ♠9 and East was helpless: if she ducked Zia would lose just one club; if she won she was endplayed. Even if West had not petered with the ♠10 the contract would have made: instead of playing a low spade Zia would play dummy’s ♣J and duck East’s ♣Q to endplay her.