The Spring Fours is one of the great events in the English bridge calendar – a five-day knockout attracting many international stars. This year, it was won by Frances Hinden’s team. Superb bridge was played all round – not just by Team Hinden, but all the runners-up, too. As ever, luck played its role – and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Janet de Botton’s team, who seemed sure of getting through to the semi-finals until a dollop of misfortune fell their way. Going into the final stanza of the quarter-finals, they were 30 points up against Richard Plackett’s team. When you’re that far ahead, with only eight boards to go, you try and play ‘safe’: you can afford some losses, but no big swings or heavy penalties. So what do you do when a vulnerable grand slam beckons: do you go for it, or settle for a small slam? It depends, of course, on how good the odds are – and also on whether you think it will be bid in the other room. Thor-Erik Hoftaniska was faced with that dilemma:
Thor-Erik’s 4◆ showed shortage; South cuebid 4♥, then showed three key-cards. Now came the decisive moment. The grand depended on South’s club holding. Thor-Erik continued with 6♣, a conventional bid asking South whether he had third-round control (a singleton, doubleton or the ♣Q). He did – and jumped to 7♠. It was a fantastic slam – better than 85%. But when clubs broke 5-1 it had to go down. Meanwhile, in the other room, NS stopped in 6♠. That meant a loss of 17 points. De Botton went on to lose the match by three. Bridge is a beautiful game – but can be so harsh.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10