I was lucky enough to sit next to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd at a friend’s dinner the other night. I’d been chatting earlier to his wife, the novelist Polly Sampson, who had mentioned that she’d like to learn bridge some day, and so I tried to enthuse him too. Perhaps I got a little carried away. Bridge, I said, was as good as life gets; he had no much idea how much fun was in store for him; in fact, why didn’t I book some lessons for him this very summer? ‘I can’t, I’ve got a world tour,’ he replied. ‘Pfff, that’s no excuse,’ I chided. ‘You can easily fit in a little bridge…’. That’s when he decided to give it to me straight: ‘I’d rather be dead.’
That’s the problem with bridge — it has such a fusty, old-ladyish image. And yet a beautifully played hand can send tingles down the spine just as much as a beautiful guitar solo. Look, for instance, at the fancy fingerwork with which Brian Senior riffed his way to glory here:
West led the ♥J, ducked by Brian, then switched to a low trump. Brian won with dummy’s ♠Q and played a diamond to the ♦K, and then the ♦5. East won and returned a trump to West, who played ace and another. Now, with no chance of a diamond ruff, there were only 9 tricks. But watch what Brian did: he won the third spade in dummy, ruffed a heart, then played the ♣8 to the ♣A and ruffed another heart. Next the ♣K, playing the ♣10 from dummy, then the ♣J to the ♣Q and, at trick 12, the ♣5 from dummy. East was down to the ♥A and the ♦A. Dummy held the ♥Q. East, unsure whether the ♣5 was a master (he assumed not), and worried that Brian might hold the ♦10, decided to throw his ♥A — making Brian’s ♥Q a winner. Rock on!
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.