English 47 Brian Zietman H ave any of you noticed that it is getting tougher to play in our national championships? The Pairs, Mixed Pairs and IMP Pairs have all become so much more challenging due to the healthy sprinkling of World and European junior champions. While it is true that many of them play with clients, they still raise the level considerably. Apparently the only refuge left is the Senior Pairs which still give the average players a fair chance of success. Anyway, my partner and I were playing in the second round of semi- fi nals of the Mixed Pairs Championships, when we were faced Lotan Fisher and his partner. I picked up a few points more than my usual collection of rubbish: ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ 872 65 J6532 KQ4 I Passed as dealer, and the bidding continued like this: West North East South Lotan You Partner Pass 1 ♣ 4 ♠ 4NT Pass 5 ♣ Pass 7NT Dbl All Pass 1 ♣ was followed by 4 ♠ from my partner, and then 4NT from Lotan. I Passed, and Lotan's partner bid 5 ♣ . He was not quite sure what to make of this, as he was asking for aces and his partner was showing 0 or 3. In fact, she didn't realize that he was asking for aces, and simply rebid her long clubs. I could see that he was a bit agitated, and when he threw down the 7 NT card and I happily doubled. My partner obviously had some points for her 4 ♠ bid, and I held the King-Queen in dummy's suit. I led the ♣ K and waited for the down one doubled. I am still waiting  . Here is the full hand: ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ 872 65 J6532 KQ4 ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ AT AKQT432 K8 J2 ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ - 9 AQT94 AT97653 ♠ ♥ ♦ ♣ KQJ96543 J87 7 8 Lotan won in dummy and rattled off 7 Heart tricks. I followed twice and then discarded my three spades, a club and a diamond. When the ♠ A came I started squirming. Mercifully, Lotan put me out of my misery by claiming the rest. He told me that if I discard my ♣ Q then his Jack is high, while if I throw another diamond then he runs the diamond suit. 7NT doubled and made. Our score was minus 2490, an absolute bottom. Therefore, as I wrote at the title of this article, don't mess around with Lotan! Don't mess about with Lotan