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I got it right — this time

The two session Junior Open Pairs concluded on Tuesday night and after two tough sessions George Correia and Willi Christensen just edged out Claire Rush and Felicity Lunn for the title, finishing with 174.50 master points compared to 171.50 for the second placed pair.

Finishing in 3rd with 164.50 were Mike Shaw and David Theaker followed by Andy Carne and Irene Chew in fourth and first round leaders David Petty and Kathleen Keane in fifth.

The two top pairs had gone into the second session virtually tied for second place and a winning second session did it for George and Willi.

Claire and Felicity had some consolation by winning the Flight B and Flight C strata of the event, an excellent performance - well done also to Mike and David for taking second place in those flights!

Many congratulations to George and Willi for putting together two really rock solid sessions to lift the prize - this was a tough 18 pair field and the win should propel them to better things.

Before I get to the hand, some upcoming events:

On Monday, March 17th at 5.30pm … Bridge Club AGM (the game that night has a ‘green theme’ for St Paddys day.)

March 19th - Cue Bidding Workshop

March 21st - Junior /Senior Team game

I defended a hand on Bridge Base online the other day that just kept bringing back in my memory a hand I had defended a couple of years ago and covered in this column.

Through the wonders of file retrieval I dragged it out and the recent hand was pretty much a carbon copy of the hand I had previously met.

I got it right this time but the reason I had covered it in the earlier column is that I didn’t then!

The theme of the previous column was that Bridge is a game that needs constant work ... long absences from the game are difficult to handle not because of diminishing skills but because one loses a sharpness and ‘edge’ when a non-standard play or bid presents itself.

When I played bridge three or four times a week in the 1970s, that edge was there!

(In London we once played a game that started at 8pm on a Friday night and ended at 2am on Monday morning - 54 hours non stop!)

Nowadays I have to think a bit about decisions which would have been reflex.

Board 3. E/W Vul. Dealer South.

? 754

? Q98

• KJ109

? KJ6

? KQJ10 ? 963

? J107 ? 6543

• Q76 • 54

? A32 ? 10954

? A82

? AK2

• A832

? Q87

I was West and South had opened 1NT(15-17) and North had an easy raise to 3NT.

I had an easy spade lead and when dummy hit the table one thing was clear .....partner had no points as I could see a total of 25!

Declarer won the second round of spades and played a club to the King and then a club to the queen and my Ace. I now cashed my spades and exited with a heart.

Declarer still only had eight tricks and having already seen me produce ten points decided to play my partner for the queen of diamonds and the contract went down one, a good result for us.

So what is the point of this hand and what has it got to do with sharpness and edge?

Well, I put the hand away with the nagging feeling that one gets on some hands that we got lucky, and then I realised why!

The hand is an open book as declarer clearly had every missing high card, and after I won the Club Ace declarer either already had nine tricks if he had a four card club or heart suit or would need the diamond finesse for the ninth.

Voila! I shouldn’t have cashed my last spade, giving declarer the impression that my partner had it and should have just cashed the jack and exited with a heart!

Now declarer, thinking my partner had the remaining spade, would ‘safely’ take the diamond finesse through my partner at which stage I would win the diamond queen and proudly produce the 13th spade to set the contract!

All so easy in the post mortem but my enduring thought at the time was that I would have made that play when I was playing a lot ... last week’s hand, which came in the middle of a period when I played a lot, suggests that practice really does focus the mind!