There aren’t many instantly recognisable stars in the bridge world, but Andrew Robson is definitely one — as he was made only too aware on a flight to Tangier recently when a group of Club Med passengers in the surrounding seats got very excited and made him discuss bridge for hours. Andrew goes to Tangier every year for Stuart Wheeler’s Bridge Week, to which I’m also lucky enough to be invited. The Wheelers’ house has stunning views and Tangier itself is teeming with exotic life — but to be honest, none of us has much desire to step outside when non-stop bridge is on offer. The guests are mainly Portland Club players, and the stakes are pretty high — but even with money involved, the emphasis is on fun. After lunch, it’s considered unsporting to play completely sober, and by the early hours — well, as Andrew put it one night, ‘I’m not sure it’s bridge, but we’re having a nice time tossing cards.’ Andrew tosses them so much better, though — as he showed when he reached this slam with Kitty Teltscher (North).
Andrew’s 3♦ was forcing and Kitty’s 4♥ was a splinter. At rubber bridge it’s usually wise to settle for a small slam unless you can literally count 13 tricks. West led the A♥. Andrew ruffed. He then played a low trump from both hands! It was a perfect safety play against a 4–1 split — and necessary too, as it turned out. You can’t cash the ♣Q and then duck a club as East will of course play a third trump. Nor can you cash three top trumps after ruffing a second heart as there’s no hope of pitching your third heart on a diamond or a spade before East gains the lead. As it was, there was no defence after a trump was ducked: whatever the return, Andrew could ruff one more heart, draw trumps and claim.