The Gold Cup is the most prestigious Open Teams event in Britain, and has been ever since Colonel ‘Pops’ Beasley first held the trophy aloft in 1932. Last weekend’s online final was as thrilling as any I can remember — a neck-and-neck race between Janet de Botton’s team and Tim Leslie’s, with de Botton pulling ahead in the last few boards to win by 20 imps. The players had been battling it out from Saturday morning until Sunday evening with hardly a break. But if they were exhausted they didn’t show it — they fought for every point right up to the end in a terrific display of stamina and concentration.
Playing for the de Botton team with five boards to go, Tom Townsend — now on his 123rd hand of the weekend — needed all his wits about him to make 4♥ (see diagram).
* transfer to hearts. West (Mike Bell) led the ♣Q, and East (Ben Norton) captured dummy’s ♣K with his ♣A. He cashed the ♣J, then switched to the ♦9. Tom rose with his ♦A and led a spade to dummy’s ♠J and East’s ♠A. East now played the ♣10. West discarded the ♠Q and Tom ruffed in dummy. This was unfortunate: if West was out of spades, Tom couldn’t ruff any. After some thought, he cashed the ♥AK and the ♦K, overtook the ♥10 with the ♥Q and cashed the ♥9, pitching a spade. East was down to ♠108 ♦Q. Finally, Tom cashed his ♣9 and East was squeezed: if he discarded a spade, dummy’s ♠K7 would be good, so he pitched the ♦Q — and Tom’s ♦J became the tenth trick. Bravo.
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