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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