As Janet said last week, the recent European Open trials made for compulsive viewing. Ten pairs took part; first and second place would join Andrew Robson and Tony Forrester (the only pre-selected pair) to represent England in the European championships in June.
At the end of four gruelling days, the winners were Jeffrey Allerton/Chris Jagger, and Artur Malinowski/David Bakshi. They played brilliantly, but in all honesty, so did almost everyone. I was reminded time and again that at the top level, it’s not so much perfect technique that gives you the edge — every player is an expert — but bold and accurate bidding. It’s all about knowing when to be aggressive and when to go quietly; when to pressurise the opponents and when to play safe; when to double and when to sacrifice..
Take this hand. David Bakshi judged things perfectly and had the guts to back up his judgment; it’s not often that players sacrifice at the seven-level when vulnerable:
West (Espen Erichsen) opened a strong 2. Malinowski’s double showed both majors. Bakshi jumped to 3, and although NS did their best to obstruct EW further, Erichsen had no problem bidding grand slam. Now Bakshi found the brilliant bid of 7. He didn’t just evaluate his hand perfectly, he also trusted both his partner and his opponents. Malinowki had passed 7; he hadn’t doubled, so he obviously thought it might make. As for Erichsen — he’s a very disciplined player who doesn’t bid grand slams lightly. Time to sacrifice! West led the A, and when the dust had settled Bakshi had lost two hearts and a club for minus 800. In the other room, 7was bid and made, so EW gained 2140.
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