Barnet Shenkin

The Scottish Field by Victor A. Silverstone prev/next

Before this year's Scottish trials the selectors announced that the two pairs finishing first and second were guaranteed to play in at least one of this season's Camrose matches. In the event an exciting struggle developed for second place which was eventually secured by M. Rosenberg and G. Haase playing in the trials for the first time. Rosenberg, at 19 years of age, become the youngest player ever to represent Scotland, beating the record established last year by Barnet Shenkin.

Shenkin's play in the following deal from the trials was not kindly received by the opponents:

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

After a long, and complicated auction Shenkin reached the unsound contract of seven diamonds. At the end of the bidding the opponent in the East seat asked for a detailed explanation of the bidding. West then made the opening lead (a spade), and declarer proceeded to play a diamond to the ace and then the knave of diamonds. This play of the trump suit is, of course, completely against the odds but it brought home the contract.

Why did declarer adopt this line? The explanation lies in the psychology of the situation. Shenkin decided that the opponent who had asked cheerfully about the quality of the heart suit and the nature of the cue-bids did not possess the queen of diamonds. Otherwise he would have kept quiet and unobtrusive. Any reader who decides after reading this article to ask questions the next time lie holds the queen of trumps against a grand slam does so at his own risk.