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Face the Elites! (English Bridge Union)

Article written by Christophe Grosset and published in the magazine of the English Bridge Union (April 2018).

Each Funbridge Series Tournament lasts two weeks and as the ending approaches everyone is fighting to either stay in their division or move up to next one. The Series Tournament is the perfect way to be compared to players of a similar skill level to yours, as well as to monitor your progress. There are 12 different series, from series 11 to the star series, and at the end of each fortnight,
the best ranked players move up while the lowest ranked ones move down.

Here is a board from the elite series of early January:

Love All.
Dealer North.
Matchpoints.

S J 2
H A 2
D A J 8 7 5
C 9 6 3 2
orientation
S A
H K J 10 8 6 5 3
D Q 2
C A 7 4

 

West North East South
PASS PASS
All pass

 

 fit jump showing diamonds

After two passes, South opens 1♥ with 14 points and a nice 7-card suit. Some would argue that opening the bidding 4♥ has a lot of merits, as it is the contract that South will want to play most of the time and it makes life much harder for E-W to find a potential 4♠ contract or to bid a suit to help each other find the best lead. Opening 1♥ primarily allows N-S to stop below game if partner has a weak hand or no fit.

After the expected 1♠ bid by West, North doubled, East made a fit jump bid of 3♦ over which South bid 4♥ and was happy for it to stand.

West led the 3♦ and the first card declarer calls for will decide everything. Take a moment to think about what you would do and why. The lead is clearly a singleton; East is known from
the bidding to hold at the very least four diamonds and the lead of the three can’t be from a doubleton as declarer holds the two. Nevertheless, playing a small diamond at trick one is the correct play.

If declarer elects to play the diamond ace, he will end up losing two clubs, one diamond and maybe one heart, for 9 or 10 tricks. While playing a small diamond at trick two will result in two immediate losers in the suit (K♦ and a ruff), it will create two winners (A♦ and J♦) that will allow declarer to get rid of the two club losers in the very likely scenario that west doesn’t have all four trumps. Here were all four hands:

Love All.
Dealer North

S J 2
H A 2
D A J 8 7 5
C 9 6 3 2
S K 10 9 7 4 3
H Q 4
D 3
C Q J 8 5
orientation S Q 8 6 5
H 9 7
D K 10 9 6 4
C K 10
S A 
H K J 10 8 6 5 3
D Q 2
C A 7 4

 
Playing low from dummy at trick one would result in 11 tricks for a score of 70% while playing the A♦ and making 10 tricks only 30%. Feel like you can compete with the Elite series?
Funbridge gives you the opportunity to be compared with the elite players without anyone seeing your results using the ‘Face the elites’ practice mode. You will be compared to all the star players
from the last fortnight. You can also use it to improve your bridge as you can review how they played each board.

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