Last year Jeremy Flint of London mounted a sustained assault on American bridge titles. In an unprecedented foreign invasion of the U.S. tournament scene, he set a record by becoming a Life Master in 11 weeks, and he collected 1,197 master points in less than 10 months. But the race for the McKenney Trophy, symbol of the best all-round tournament performance, had been in progress for two months before Flint got here, and Peter Pender, the partner with whom Flint played for most of the year, had already won a great many points on his own. As a result, the best Flint could do was boost Pender to a McKenney win, while he himself finished as runner-up.
This year, having returned to Britain in April, Flint finds himself in a similar situation. Shortly after getting home he formed a highly successful partnership with Tony Priday.
However, before Flint's return, Priday had won the Gold Cup and several other major events, so once again the best that Flint himself can do is to play the role of kingmaker and help Priday become Britain's player of the year.
Flint is a brilliant player without seeking to be spectacular. He is fascinated with new systems and is credited with inventing at least two conventions of his own. But most often he achieves his successes through technical skill. In this hand from the recent British Team Trials he and Priday collaborated to put up a fine defense.
The standard defense with East's heart holding is to duck the first lead, retaining control so that two tricks can be won when West leads the suit again. But this would not succeed. South would lead a club. If East ducks and lets West in for another heart lead, he can collect two heart tricks but declarer will ruff two diamonds in dummy and make his contract.
Flint therefore won the first heart and returned a trump. Declarer won and finessed a heart to Flint's jack. Flint gave Priday a heart ruff, won a club return with his ace and led a second trump. Declarer could ruff one diamond and discard one on the fourth heart, but was left with a diamond loser for down one.
There then followed a brief discussion between North and South, ending with the conclusion that the contract could never be made, even if South began ruffing diamonds in dummy immediately.
"You are wrong," interjected Flint, "it can be made. After you win the trump return at trick two, you lead a low diamond to the board."
There are two things remarkable about this seemingly suicidal play: the speed with which Flint produced the suggestion and the fact that it works.
Suppose West wins the diamond and continues hearts. Dummy wins and leads a club. East can take this trick and cash the heart jack, but if he leads a fourth heart, South ruffs high, cashes the diamond ace and trumps both remaining diamonds in dummy. If East does not cash the heart jack but leads a low one for partner to ruff, again South will be able to cash his diamond ace and trump two diamond losers.