John Carruthers

When Fred Couples was winning the 1992 Masters, he hit the shot of his life on the par 5, 13th hole during the final round, reaching the green in two strokes. After he hit the ball, as it rocketed toward the green, over the protective creek, Couples was clearly heard to exclaim, “Oh, baby!” He knew he’d hit it flush.

This was my favourite board from the 2003 CNTC – for a while. I hit it flush.

Round 13. Board 7. Dealer South. Both Vul.

 J 10 9 5
 8 4 2
 10 7 3 2
 K 3

 A 8 7 4 2
 A K Q
 J 6 4 2


 K Q 6
 L 9 7 3
 J 9 8 5 4


 10 6 5
 A K Q
 A Q 10 8 7 5

West      North   East   South
Beagle Z         J. Silver     Beagle J   Carruthers
1 Pass 2 3
Doblo Pass Pass Pass

Contract: 3 Double

Lead: K

Joey and I were playing against Billy and John Bowman, affectionately known as the Beagles, from Ottawa. They were in second place, looking like easy qualifiers for the quarterfinals, while we were fighting for our lives. About two-thirds of the round robin were complete. I was a bit surprised when Billy doubled me in three clubs – it’s a bit unusual to be doubled in this situation at IMPs after catching a raise from Partner. Perhaps he’s overcalled a four-card suit, I thought. The Beagles are known as active, imaginative players.

Billy cashed three hearts and shifted to a diamond. My only hope for the contract was not to lose a trump trick. For the double, Billy had to have four or five clubs to the jack. There was just one slim chance – if John had the singleton nine, I could lead the ten and pin it. If not, running the ten would only cost me if he had the stiff jack – very unlikely. 

I placed the ten of clubs on the table. Billy followed with the two. I called for dummy’s three. John played the nine! I couldn’t help myself: “Oh, baby!” I exclaimed.

As you can see, my exuberance was short-lived. A club to the king was swiftly followed by a diamond ruff for down one and minus 200. Rats! I had needed Billy to have 4=3=2=4 to succeed. Very unlikely, since John had not made a preemptive raise.