2019 was a big year for Alex Hydes. HUGE in fact. He won, almost consecutively, three major international titles and several lesser ones. On top of that he and Ben Handley-Pritchard have just qualified to play for England in the Europeans in June. No wonder he’s in such demand. I have just returned from Edinburgh where we played the first weekend of the Camrose and Alex was billeted in to take the place of Espen Erichsen who is in Oz. Scoring up with him is a real pleasure! We finished the weekend 24 VPs ahead of 2nd (Ireland) — a perfect start for the second weekend coming up next month.
Look at him here, taking care to play the contract in hand super carefully and finding the only totally safe line. Cover up the E/W hands and try for yourself. (See diagram)
North’s final pass took some time — not surprising since he had quite a bit to spare. West started with the ♣3, won by East’s queen, and a Diamond was returned. Now what? With the valuable ♥10 and ♦9 in dummy, you really ought to lose no more than the two red queens and a Club trick, and yet 4♥was too high for two pairs in the strong field. Maybe they were distracted when dummy went down thinking they had missed slam.
Not so Alex. He thought for a while and found the correct — and only completely safe line: he won the Diamond, cashed one top Heart and played a second Heart towards the ten in dummy. You can check for yourself that nothing bad can happen with this line, while on any other approach you may well get into trouble. A happy start to 2020.
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