It’s nice being part of a community. That’s how bridge is: over the years, you get to know, or recognise, pretty much everyone on the tournament scene. Even when you play abroad, you see the same faces again and again. I’m think I’m on friendly, or nodding, terms with at least one player from every country on the globe. At home in London, it’s positively incestuous: we’re like one huge, dysfunctional family. And with bridge being broadcast online, we can follow each other wherever we are.
For instance, I’ve just come back from a family holiday in Tenerife, where I spent as much time as I could following my bridge pals competing in the Winter Games in Monaco. They’re all doing well so far — Andrew Black’s team, Simon Gillis’s, Patrick Lawrence’s, Jonathan Harris’s and, top of the bunch, Janet de Botton’s. From my deckchair, I was glued to the action. I particularly enjoyed this hand played by Andrew ‘Bertie’ Black — who, by the way, is famed for being the founder of Betfair, about the coolest thing a card-player could be:
North led the ♣2. If declarer plays low, South will win with the ♣Q, play a club to North’s ♣A and get a ruff — and there’s a possible trump loser to come. Black got off to a great start by rising with the ♣K (amazing table presence). He then played ♥AK, throwing a diamond, ruffed a heart, then ♦AK and a diamond ruff, eliminating the red suits. Next he played a club to South’s ♣Q, and now he was home on any break. Not wanting to give a ruff-and-discard, South played a spade round to dummy’s ♠A10: the contract was made.