There are an awful lot of bridge babies in the world — that is, babies born to mothers so addicted to the game that they’re still playing when they go into labour. I recently learnt that the actor Jack Lemmon was one: his mother Mildred was playing in New York’s Ritz-Carlton hotel when her contractions began. She was rushed to hospital but didn’t quite make it — Jack was born in the hospital lift.
My friend Lou Hobhouse can beat that: not only was she at the bridge table hours before giving birth to her first child — she was back just hours afterwards. Cradling her cards in her arms, she quipped that having a baby was a cinch compared to playing in a redoubled slam. Lou is now the editor of the English Bridge Union magazine, and as crazy about the game as ever. We played at the Young Chelsea a few weeks ago (imps scoring) and not everyone was as careful as her in bringing home this game:
West led the ♦K and continued with the ♦A. Several declarers in the same contract ruffed, then got a nasty shock when trumps broke badly; they lost control of the hand and went down. Lou, however, stopped to consider a 5–1 trump break before playing to the second trick — and took a simple precaution. Instead of ruffing, she discarded a heart, and then another heart on the third diamond. The defenders could no longer force her to ruff in the long hand: she could ruff a fourth diamond in dummy — or win any other lead — draw trumps and claim.