Thursday 8 September 2011
The strongest tournament in England for a great many years was staged by TGRs bridge club last weekend. The teams were auctioned to the highest bidder, with the top sides fetching prices of £3,000.
The achievement of the winners was nothing short of miraculous – they didn’t sell for thousands, they didn’t have a world champion in their ranks, they played the simplest of bidding systems and yet they lost only one match. Maurice Esterson and Richard Selway play almost no tournament bridge nowadays, while Arild Rasmussen and Kenneth Skov are seasoned tournament players, but this was only their second outing as a partnership.
With one match to go, the Esterson team could be overtaken if Janet de Botton’s players beat them by a significant margin.
Dealer North, N/S Vul
10 9 3 2
A 6 4
K 8 7 6
|Q 8 7 5 2
Q J 8 6
A 7 4
K J 7 2
10 9 3 2
|K J 4 3
Q 9 5 3
A Q 5
At both tables the auction was the same: two passes to South who opened a strong no trump, a Stayman inquiry by North, a reply showing spades by South and a conclusion in 3NT by North.
That was rather irritating for the Wests, who knew that South had long spades and North had long hearts, which didn’t augur well for an attack in either major suit. For De Botton, West put his faith in the 10 of diamonds – East had not doubled North’s Stayman bid of two clubs.
No doubt East was pleased with his partner’s choice since it had found his own best suit – but declarer was more pleased with it, since when East went up with the king and returned a diamond, South now had three tricks in the suit. Clubs provided three more, and in the end game declarer took a further three in the majors for 600 to Esterson.
At the other table, Rasmussen for the winners preferred to attack with the six of hearts. East put on the ace and returned the suit, setting up two quick winners in the West hand. South tried the clubs, but they didn’t break. He exited from dummy with a heart, hoping that West would be endplayed. West wasn’t – he had a safe diamond exit, and when in desperation South took the spade finesse, he went three down and lost 14 IMPs in the process.