Source: Birthday Present By David Bird      

David Bird
David Bird

In my piece in yesterday’s bulletin, I described the notion of a nett swing. That’s when you have a chance to gain IMPs but fail to do so and lose IMPs instead. Nett swings can be around 30 IMPs on big deals. I did not have long to wait for the fi rst sizeable nett swing in the Slava Cup. This was board 6 at Table 1:

Board 6. Dealer East. E/W Vulaaxx

North’s 2 was natural and East’s Support Double showed 3-card spade support. West might have signed off in 2 but made the stronger move of 2. Gromov now bid the Unusual NT, inviting partner to advance in one of the minors. I was expecting South to bid 3, but I did mention in voice commentary on Bridge Base that some players would pass 2NT. To my surprise Dubinin took this option. My next prediction was that West would bid 3. Wrong again, he bid a bold 4.

The cards lie well for this contract and it seemed that South’s pass of the Unusual NT had given away the position of the J. +620 figured to be a useful swing for East-West. Declarer won the K lead with the ace and led the 10, South winning with the ace. After a club to the ace and a club back, I rather thought that West would play South for AJx, after his refusal to bid a minor on the second round. No, a spade was played to the king and the game went one down for a loss of 10 IMPs against the datum of -280. Making the game would have been a gain of 8 IMPs, so it was a nett swing of 18. Perhaps the opponents knew that it was Gromov’s birthday (I am told) and thought that a present was in order.

Right, how many of you know what a Biltcliffe Coup is? It is not very common because to achieve it you have to perform the following five conditions:

  1. The opponents stop in a part-score
  2. You protect with a bid in the pass-out seat
  3. The opponents then bid game
  4. You double them … and they make it.

Many years ago, I coined the term after a player called Biltcliffe (a member of Eric Crowhurst’s team) who achieved the coup three times in a single match. You can imagine how excited I was when on board 21, there was potential for a Biltcliffe Coup:

Board 21. Dealer North. N/S Vul.

aaxxA pre-emptive raise to 3, when vulnerable against not, shows a fair amount of playing strength and I expected South to raise to 4. No, it was another case of commentator’s curse and he passed. One by one the fi rst four conditions of the Biltcliffe Coup were fulfilled. My heart rate went up considerably, you will understand. Now, would they make it? Say they lost a heart and a diamond. Declarer would then surely only lose one club – leading towards the queen and then finessing the 10. Yes!

Declarer won the K lead and led a diamond to the king and ace. When a trump was returned, he thought for a while and then played the queen, losing to the king. Back came the 8 to the jack and ace and the contract was home. Hurray! My heart rate has nearly returned to normal.