The return to pre-Covid normality has been slow and a bit dispiriting. Attendance at the popular English tournaments has been worryingly low with some events being cancelled (or moved online) because so few pairs had entered. Going anywhere abroad has been tinged with terror because what if you tested positive and had to isolate for… ever!
Well, enough snowflakery. I want to play live and find out if my table presence is still the best part of my game. It’s off to the most luxurious bridge festival of them all – Biarritz! Sun, sand, sea, one long session of bridge starting at 4 p.m., followed by a delicious dinner. Perfect! And jam-packed.
Today’s hand was played by the late, great French world champion, Catherine d’Ovidio, whose table presence was world class.
West decided against leading his singleton: it was Declarer’s second suit which could pick up partner’s holdings. Instead he led the ♦J.
When Catherine won in hand and played a trump to Dummy’s King and East’s Ace, West couldn’t help but make a small hand gesture, knowing now that leading his singleton Club would have defeated the slam.
Catherine noticed this, of course, and figured that the only reason West could have to be upset was a singleton Club. D’Ovidio won the Diamond switch and, abandoning more normal lines, drew trumps, played a Club to the Ace and one back towards hand. When East followed low, she backed her card-reading judgment and finessed the nine!
It’s alleged that West’s captain said to him after the match, ’You didn’t have to let the contract through twice, once was good enough!’
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