Peter Fredin may not be the best bridge player in the world, but he gets my vote for the most exciting. I first became fascinated by the Swedish star years ago when he duped me with an outlandish bluff during a European championship. I quickly learned that the field was littered with his victims. Now there’s a brilliant new book about the man — Master of Bridge Psychology by Jeppe Juhl — which is full of stunning hands and funny stories.
What makes Fredin’s approach to bridge so original is that, again and again, he rejects the correct technical line in favour of a psychological one. As Fredin puts it, opportunities to deceive occur all the time, but the vast majority of players are not ‘wired’ to think that way. Or maybe they just don’t have his nerve: he’s never worried about looking a fool when backing his intuition over the mathematical odds. On this deal, he’s South against the Norwegian pros Jorgen Molberg and Glenn Groetheim.
Molberg led the ♣2 to the ♣Q and East’s ♣K. East continued with the ♦K to Fredin’s ♦A. Any other player would cross to dummy and take the spade finesse (or perhaps play for West to have a stiff ♠K). Not Fredin. He felt sure West had the ♠K. Why? Because East hadn’t hesitated when bidding 3♣: had he held something like ♠Kx, ♥xx, ♦KQ, ♣AKJxxxx he would at least have considered 3NT. And so at trick 3, Fredin played the ♠J from hand! Who can blame Molberg for ducking, fearful that his partner held the stiff ♠A? Surely even Fredin wouldn’t lead the jack from ace-jack. When the ♠J held, Fredin cashed the ♠A and claimed 12 tricks.