I defy anyone, even Tolstoy were he still alive and were he to abandon War and Peace for a bridge column, to avoid a shed load of clichés when describing the final of the Venice Cup in Bali, between the magnificent English Ladies and their American counterparts. Let me make do with heart-stopping.
With seven boards to go, England led by two IMPs, rendering the previous 89 boards somewhat insignificant! And what sensational boards they were. One small slam, missed by the Americans, produced a big swing for England. America then claimed a game swing back. Two Grand Slams were missed at both tables and the Americans finally took Gold when three carefully bid and played part scores saw them edge ahead and win by nine IMPS.
Fiona Brown and Susan Stockdale finished top of the Butler again. Against China in the semi-final they had a rare misunderstanding and missed a cold Grand Slam. This made their careful defence on the next board all the better:
The Chinese E/W missed their Spade fit after Fiona’s overcall, but 1NT was also destined to make due to the blockage in Hearts.
Fiona led a Heart to Susan’s Jack and declarer’s King. A Spade to the King held, and declarer followed with a Diamond from dummy. This was a misplay, and if she had thought of the possibility of the Hearts being blocked, she would have continued Spades in order to knock out North’s entry. Now Susan alertly hopped up with her ♦A, unblocked the Hearts, and the contract went one down. With 2♠ just making at the other table, they recovered five of the 13 IMPs lost on the previous board. It’s not the hardest defence, but with the disaster of the missed Grand on everybody’s mind, I found it very impressive.
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