It was the best hand I’d had all year — and what’s more, I picked it up while playing rubber bridge for money at TGRs. The pound signs flashed before my eyes: there was no way I was stopping short of game, and the merest squeak from my partner would get me slamming. Well, you can guess what happened next: the bridge gods were having a laugh. In a few short minutes the hand turned to ash. Not only did I go down, cursing my bad luck, but one of my opponents happened to be the brilliant Thor Erik Hoftaniska, whose sharp analytical brain was able to point out almost instantly that I could in fact have made it. I was South:
2♣ was artificial and strong; 2♦ was artificial and ‘waiting’; 3NT showed a minimum of 25 points. When my partner bid an invitational 4NT I bid 6♣. The ♠5 was led. I won, crossed to the ♥K, ran the ♣J, then played a club to the ♣Q — West showed out. I tried my best to recover by cashing my spades and the A♥, then playing A♣ and another club — if East had held the ♦Q and was 3-2-4-4 I’d have made the contract as he would have to lead away from his ♦Q. But it wasn’t to be: a spade return dashed my hopes. I thought I’d done everything possible but Thor Erik (East) pointed out that a better line would have been to unblock my ♣10 under dummy’s ♣J, then play a club to the ♣Q. Next, play the ♥A, ♠KQ, ♦AK and a third diamond. This caters to East holding two hearts and either three or four diamonds to the queen: he wins and returns a spade. I ruff with the ♣2, then overruff with dummy’s ♣4, and play a heart towards my ♣A9 (East having only ♣K8 left). That really would have been the beautiful play that this beautiful hand deserved.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10