I know I’m not the strongest declarer in the world (or even at the table) but I didn’t realise my partner(s) literally stop breathing when they put dummy down. Unusually, I was declarer on quite a few hands in the recent European Mixed Teams, and I started to get an uneasy feeling when I heard a loud exhalation of breath coming from pard, which sounded like pheeeeeewwww, when I made my contract. I now understand why the late Danish International Jens Auken told my then partner Gunnar Hallberg that he wouldn’t have his job (i.e. playing with me) for £1 million a year. It’s dangerous!
Here is a hand from the Open Pairs, won by Bulgarian Internationals Jerry Stamatov and Diyan Danailov: (see image).
West led K which Declarer won with his Ace and played the K to the 4, 8 and 3, followed by the Q which West won, dummy discarding the 6 and East the 2. West now switched to the 2, low from Dummy, and won by the Queen. East exited with the 9, which South covered with the J, King from West and a low diamond was thrown from Dummy. West continued with his 7, taken by the Ace, South pitching the 4 from hand, and crossed to his Ace. He cashed the 10 (throwing the 9 from Dummy) and the J, discarding not the J but the 7. He had a perfect count of West’s hand, 4/3/1/5. Declarer played the 6 to the King, West discarding, and finally called for the J, the card he had cleverly kept precisely for this ending. East was stuffed; he could win the trick but had to lead away from his J-8 into dummy’s Q-10. +400 brought N/S a near top. Breathtaking!.
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