Barnet Shenkin

The Daily Telegraph by G. C. H. Fox prev/next

It was an outstanding achievement by Barnet Shenkin and Michael Rosenberg, from Scotland to win the 13th British Bridge League International Paris Championship at the Churchill Hotel, London. They must be two of the youngest players ever to win this event, being aged 25 and 21 respectively.

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

Barnet Shenkin was first , capped for Scotland aged 22, and won the Cold Cup the same year. He represented Great Britain in the Junior European Championship in Delft (1972) and Copenhagen (1974). Shenkin and Rosenberg have been nominated as reserve pair for the World Team Olympiad in Monte Carlo in May.

Two rounds from the end of the Pairs Championship, having lost the lead to Priday and Rodrigue, they played the Danish pair, Steen Moller and Stig Werdelin, and much depended on the opening lead against a slam on this hand, the Danish pair being North-South.

North opened with a strong no trump and South forced with 3? which North raised to 4?, the final contract being 6?.

Shenkin led ♠A. It is often wrong to lead out an ace against a little slam as it may give declarer his vital trick. It may also sacrifice an important entry if another trick can be established. But on this occasion it was the right thing to do. Any other lead would allow declarer to draw trumps and discard his singleton spade on the fourth diamond.

As it was West continued with ♠10, ruffed in hand. Realizing that the position was desperate, South boldly led ♥Q. This was a good psychological play, for if West had held K X X X he might well not cover. As it was the contract was doomed. Shenkin and Rosenberg regained the lead after this match and Priday and Rodrigue dropped back.

On the last round Priday and Rodrigue played Leon Tintner and Leon Yallouze from France, who were now in second place. They gained a penalty of 500 on this hand.

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

With Priday and Rodrigue sitting North-South against Yallouze and Tintner the bidding was:

1♠- 2♣-
2♦- 2♥ 3♦

North's 2♣ was the Drury Convention designed to ascertain whether partner has opened third in hand with a sound or shaded bid. It is often employed with a hand qualifying for a double raise in partner's suit which such action might carry the partnership too high if the opening bid were sub-minimum. With a weak opening bid the normal practice was to rebid 2♦ over 2♣, but Priday and Rodrigue use a 2♦ rebid to indicate a genuine call.

South led ♥4 covered by ♥7, ♥J and ♥2. North returned ♦5, ducked by East and taken by South with ♦10. Next came ♥9 to ♥A and another trump from North, taken with ♦Q.East led ♠8, which South won with ♠A, and ♠Q was led back to dummy's ♠K, East discarding a heart. The defense still had to make a trick in hearts and the contract was defeated by two tricks for a penalty of 500. As North-South could not make more than a part score at most, this was an excellent result.

Priday and Rodrigue had a good match, winning easily. This had the double effect of helping Shenkin and Rosenberg to win the Championship and to improve their own position to third.