Barnet Shenkin

Vegas Cavendish by Barnet Shenkin prev/next

Possibly the biggest bridge extravaganza of the year is the Cavendish Calcutta pairs. Now held in Las Vegas this brings together many of the worlds finest players who compete for a prize pool of more than a million dollars.

This years event was well covered on the net. To get all the news and see some of the exciting deals go to The site also covers previous years and there are well annotated hands for your entertainment. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the site.

I have many memories of playing in this special event. A few are sweet but most as usual are chances lost.

Here is the most poignant which took place in New York City in 1989. My partner was my friend the late Irving Rose and our opponents were Jeff Meckstroth and Eric Rodwell.

My hand was ♠J 9 7
♥Q 10 6
♣A K J 10 4 3

Neither side was vul and Rodwell on my right opened 1♦ and I overcalled 2♣ this was followed by two passes and a double. I threw in a redouble in an attempt to muddy the waters. Meckstroth passed which was alerted as penalties and the auction proceeded

2♣Pass 2♠Pass
XXPass 2♠Pass
Pass 3♣Pass 3♥
Pass 4♦Pass 4♠
Pass4NTPass 5♥
Pass 6♦XXX
All Pass   

On lead against this every day auction what would you choose?

I knew Rose was probably void in clubs or had some kind of surprise. However was Rodwells redouble an expression of satisfaction of the contract or did he conventionally have a club control?

Without asking the question I stupidly led the club Ace. This held the first trick but after this lead we could not stop declarer from making eight diamond winners on a crossruff two spades and two hearts.

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

Had I thought out the lead more carefully I would have led my trump. Now when declarer leads his club singleton, partner can ruff this and return his remaining trump to leave declarer a trick short.

Needless to say this deal did not help us in our struggle and we just finished out of the money. On the positive side I learned about penalty passes of redoubles and also when an opponent doubles a slam suggesting a lead a redouble by declarer should deny a problem in the suit to be led. This stops partner from possibly doing something silly by changing the final contract to another strain. Every lesson has its price!