Barnet Shenkin

The Guardian by Rixi Markus prev/next

BARNET SHENKIN was one of the British team which finished in a disappointing sixth place in the European Open Championship in Lausanne. Among recent successes he has won the northern heat of the Woolwich Building Society SpringFoursomes in both 1978 and 1979. His team lost the play-off against the 1979 winners of the southern heat, Douglas Smerdon's team by the narrow margin of 18 i.m.p. over 60 boards.

Shenkin made a neat deceptive play on the following band from the play-off, dealt by South at love all.

N ♠Q 10 7
♥A 5
♦A 10 8 4 2
♣Q 10 5
W ♠A J 6 5
♥K J 6 4
♦Q J 6
♣7 3
 E ♠8 3 2
♥Q 9 8 3
♦K 7 5
♣9 6 2
 S ♠K 9 4
♥10 7 2
♦9 3
♣A K J 8 4
(Shenkin) (Goldberg) 

(1) Showing 11-12 points. I only wish that some of my opponents at rubber bridge would take up this style of bidding.

West led the 4 of hearts to East's queen and declarer's 7, and East returned the 3 of hearts to the 10, jack and ace. South now cashed his club tricks, and West after throwing the king of hearts and a spade as his first two discards, had something of a problem on the fifth club. He could not discard a diamond in case South held the king, and he could not throw another heart without losing contact with his partner's band. Even though a second spade discard would expose the spade position, therefore, this seemed the lesser risk, particularly as South's play to the first two tricks had apparently marked East with Q-9-8-3-2 of hearts, and one spade trick seemed likely to be enough to defeat the contract.

West therefore discarded a spade on the fifth club, went up with the ace of spades on the first round of the suit and fired back a heart so that East could cash his three remaining heart tricks. Unfortunately, these three tricks were revealed to be only two, and two spade tricks gave Shenkin the nine tricks which his clever play deserved. -even if his bidding did not.

Barnet Shenkin's attempt at similar did not meet with similar success on this next hand from the play-off. East dealt with East-West vulnerable.

N ♠J 10 7 3
♥Q 8 4 3
♦5 4 2
♣7 2
W ♠A 9 4
♥A K J 2
♦Q 8 3
♣A 10 8
 E ♠Q 8 2
♥9 7 5
♦J 10
♣K J 9 6 4
 S ♠K 6 5
♥10 6
♦A K 9 7 6
♣Q 5 3

The bidding was soon over:

 (Shenkin) (Goldberg)
NB1NT (1)DoubleNB
NBNB (2)  

(1) See my comments above.

(2) It was a brave, if not foolhardy, decision to stick 1NT doubled with such an unsuitable hand.

West led the ace of hearts and continued with the 2, although the jack would have worked out considerably better. Shenkin understandably guessed wrongly and went up with the queen from dummy, and his prospects of making more than four tricks looked bleak. The natural play seems to be to duck a diamond in the hope of bringing in four diamond tricks, but declarer rejected this line on the grounds that he would have to make at least two revealing discards and the defenders would inevitably attack his weak club suit. He chose instead a bold line calculated to fool the defence. At trick three, he played a club to the queen, hoping that this would dissuade his opponents from attacking his weak spot.

Disaster. West captured the queen of clubs with his ace, cashed his two winning hearts and exited with a club. East cashed his winning clubs and then exited with a diamond, forcing South to lead from his king of spades to go four down. Minus 700 and 12 i.m.p. to the Smerdon team.