I’m aware that this column is in danger of turning into the Alex Hydes fanzine, but after writing about his performance on Janet’s team a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to partner him myself last Saturday. We played in the Young Chelsea cross-IMP pairs tournament — which, incidentally, I hope becomes a regular event, as it’s hugely enjoyable, and a good standard too.
Alex Hydes is not just a wonderful mentor; he’s also sheer fun. Everything I enjoy about him as a friend — his maverick, risk-taking personality — is reflected in the way he plays bridge. He brings a psychological edge and fearlessness to the game which reminds me of Zia Mahmood and Peter Fredin.
We won on Saturday, not least because of some superb doubles he made. This one might be my favourite a partner of mine has ever made (he was South) see diagram.
West’s jump to 2♠ was strong. I bid 5♣ (non-vul) to be obstructive. You can imagine my surprise when Alex doubled 5♠. What on earth could he have? I led the ♣A. When declarer ruffed, I was even more perplexed — until it suddenly dawned on me: Alex had made a ‘striped-tailed ape double’! It’s something I’ve read about it in books but never encountered in real life. He knew the opponents were about to bid a vulnerable slam, and that a doubled overtrick or two in 5♠ would be less expensive. And so it proved: declarer wrapped up all 13 tricks and we lost –1250 instead of –1460 (or –2210 had they bid the grand). And you know, of course, why it’s called a ‘striped-tailed ape double’? Because had the opponents redoubled, Alex would have run like a striped-tailed ape to 6♣. Which would have gone 5 down for a mere –1100.
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