This article was published in Providence 2014 Bulletin 9 and was reported by Sviatlana Badrankova.
Bridge is equal to other sports when it is about the players’ attitude to the competition. At the table, they are as friendly to each other as they are merciless to the bidding and play problems they face. For example, examine this deal from the round of 16 match between Lavazza and Era in the Red Bull Open Teams for the Rosenblum Cup.
At this table, each player made the maximum use of the resources available (at many other tables, East-West were allowed to play in hearts). Well informed about the layout, Agustin Madala demonstrated precise declarer play. After the Q opening lead, he ruffed in hand, took his time for planning and proceeded confidently. He ran the Q
discovering the 3-0 trump break (East discarded a club) and played the J. Bar Tarnovski, West, won and returned the 10 to the jack. A heart ruff was followed by diamond to the ace, the A (club from declarer’s hand) and one more heart ruff.
This was the end position:
On the A, both dummy and East pitched a spade, but when the 8 was ruffed, East had to admit he was caught. A beginner may wonder why declarer should lose a trick in a side suit when possessing the ace opposite a singleton and plenty of trumps. Nevertheless, only this line of play allows declarer to succeed and it takes no account of the quality of declarer’s spades. East is marked with at least five spades and, replacing the 10 with the 2 would make no difference.
Next door, Dominik Filipowicz, playing in 5 doubled, collected 12 tricks as well but after a low spade opening lead.
So, the merciless Lavazza’s score was tanked up by 11 IMPs…. but the atmosphere at both tables remained friendly.
(A beginner might wonder why declarer had not simply taken two spade finesses, but suppose West had started with the singleton jack! Editor)