Anyone who doubts that bridge keeps your brain sharp in old age should have a game with Bernard Teltcher. Bernard recently celebrated his 95th-and-a-half birthday (very touching, I thought), but don’t be fooled by his frail demeanour or his wheelchair. He’s a formidable opponent. Not only is he one of the best high-stake players at the Portland Club; he also can’t seem to stop winning matches and tournaments.
His biggest result came last month, when he won the Summer Festival Swiss Teams. I couldn’t have been more pleased for him; indeed, I felt a benign rush of hope that he’d keep it up until his next half-birthday and beyond… All of which just goes to show how little I know myself. Because I’d forgotten that his team was due to play mine in the ‘Hubert Philips’ — a knockout tournament we actually managed to win last year. Yup, you guessed it: they’ve just knocked us out. And as I shook Bernard’s hand at the end, my benign feelings vanished: all I saw was a merciless assassin willing to mow down anything in his path with his weaponized wheelchair.
Here he showed his ruthless precision: (see image)
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West led the ♠Q. Bernard won, and a heart to the ♥A revealed the bad news. But he had a chance. He cashed the ♦A and ruffed a diamond. Next he cashed ♣AK and ruffed a club low. Another diamond was ruffed and another club with the ♥10. A fourth diamond was ruffed, and finally Bernard played a spade and ruffed it with dummy’s ♥A. East had to underruff! And now, when Bernard led a diamond from dummy, East had to play either the ♥Q or ♥9 — giving Bernard a 12th trick with the ♥J.