My friend Neil Mendoza and I had a great finish to 2017 when we won the Portland Club’s annual Auction Pairs (which is always a highlight of my year). I can’t pretend we had any real expectation of winning, but a combination of good luck, good play and flawless bidding by Neil meant we scooped the £8,000 jackpot (actually we only got half, as Stuart Wheeler had bought 50 per cent of us).
Since then, alas, things have been slipping downhill: I had a poor result with David Gold at the Year End mixed pairs, and last Sunday, a solid beating at the Young Chelsea’s ‘pivot’ teams. Time to buck up for 2018! On Sunday, amid a host of poor decisions, this hand sticks most in mind. My partner and I had an early misunderstanding in defence, and the declarer, Tim Gould, made a brilliant play to ensure we carried on down the wrong track:
Sitting West, I led the K. Normally, the king asks partner to give ‘count’ in the suit — but some people prefer to give ‘attitude’ signals, and my partner thought that’s what we’d agreed. So on my K he played the 2 (‘reverse’ attitude: encouraging). I continued with the A. My partner followed with the J, and South (Tim), with no hesitation whatsoever, played his Q! Clearly, he was the only one who knew what was going on. Now, convinced that my partner had started with J42, I assumed the J was a suit-pretence signal, showing the K. It was vital, then, to switch to a diamond. If I played my winning 10, declarer might ruff, draw trumps and play A and another club for a diamond discard. Of course that was exactly what Tim wanted: he won the diamond in hand, drew trumps, and discarded his club on the fourth diamond.
Things can only get better…
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