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Memories of Brighton 2002

by David Stevenson




A Night at the Opera

Well, it felt like a Marx Brothers film! I was asked to play by Frances Hindon, and just as I was wondering whether to break my normal rules not to play except in Speedballs she mentioned that it was Mixed Pivot Teams with Chris Jagger and Cameron Small. OK, how could I refuse the chance to play with Cameron?

I did fairly well with Frances, and then I played with Cameron. 1H by RHO, I passed, 2H by LHO, double by Cameron, 3H by RHO, so I doubled to get Cameron to pick a suit - doesn't everyone play responsive doubles? Not Cameron, apparently, and that was 930 in the wrong column.

I picked up S 7 H T87 D Q872 C AQT95 and Cameron opened 1S, 1NT from me, 2D from him, 3D from me, ok so far? Now he bids 3S and I do not know what to do. 5D or 3NT (if 4S is best he will bid his spades again over what I do next)? If his outside values are in hearts 3NT might play, if in clubs 5D looks better. I guessed at 3NT - wrong! Cameron was 5=1=4=3, ie with a singleton heart. He suggested that if he had been 5=3=4=1 he would have bid 3H rather than 3S.

Actually Steve Capal and I both prefer 1S = 1NT = 2D = 3D to be pre-emptive, with 1S = 1NT = 2D = 2NT showing a good diamond raise: this would have left room for partner to have bid 3C with a 5=1=4=3 and 5D would be easy to find.

Anyway, Cameron's pass of my takeout double still rankled, and I wanted to teach him a lesson. I overcalled 1S with a bad five card suit and only eight points: he bid 2NT. What's that? 15 points? Less? I thought 2NT would not make, so I bid 3NT for the fun of it. Cameron's eyes rolled when he saw dummy, but he made an overtrick with a little help, then muttered something about my raise. "Ten tricks, was it?" I answered, sweetly.

With opponents still judging matters poorly things proceeded well with Chris. I was surprised to find that I had C QT87, and eight points opposite a 2NT opening, when an opponent came in with 5C. I think her deductions as to what she would expect in dummy had gone awry, and 2300 was a welcome gift. We doubled another lady in 2C, which could make, but fortunately she removed herself to 3C doubled, which could not!

In fact we were well away now, and after a nice win (my first ever in this competition) I accepted an offer from Jeff Smith to play with Steve Capal in the Speedball. Except for the odd hand where he failed to notice that my new suit at the three-level was forcing it went fairly well, but the most fun hand was this:

Board 22 -- Dealer East -- E/W Vul
S A973
H 86
C A982
[ ] S KJ52
H J742

You play 3NT from the West hand after 1C by East (short), 2S by South (weak). North cashes HA, HK then switches to a diamond. You finesse the CJ, but it loses, and a club comes back, North discarding a diamond. How do you propose to get nine tricks?

Four spade tricks will see you home. South has psyched, of course: he has shown up with six clubs, two hearts and a diamond, so he cannot have more than four spades, and may very well have fewer. There is another possibility for the contract: three spade tricks will do if South wins with his last spade so long as you have eliminated his diamonds: then he will have to give you another club trick.

Declarer was careless: SK, SJ covered by the queen and ace, but no ten appeared. Now he failed to cash the diamond before playing the last spade. But it did not matter: South had S Qx, and North won the third spade and cashed the HQ. I did enjoy my 2S overcall against a young pair: they don't complain, but they do give you the look that says "Younger players psyche against older players, not the other way round"!


Editor's note:

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