This is a great time to be a young bridge player. When I took up the game in my twenties, it was decidedly uncool. It was poker’s fuddy-duddy older cousin. But, these days, tournaments are packed with glamorous youngsters having the time of their lives —none more so than the junior squads travelling the world representing their countries.
This transformation is largely due to a concerted push by the international bridge community to encourage young talent. No organisation has been more energetic than our own English Bridge Union. And things are looking even brighter now that Claire Robinson has been appointed the new junior liaison officer. One of her first initiatives was a ‘Play with the Experts’ online pairs tournament for our youngest squad, the under-16s.
I was lucky enough to be asked to play, and I partnered the talented 14-year-old Phedra Kingston. It was not just great fun, but also inspiring to see so many enthusiastic young players. The event was won by David Burn and 12-year-old Harriet Cork, who found a thoughtful defence on this board (see diagram).
Harriet (South) led the ♣7. North (Burn) won the ♣Q, cashed the ♣A, then played the ♣5 (suit preference for spades). Harriet ruffed. What now? If she played a spade, how could she ensure her partner would not try to cash a second, but would instead return another club to promote her ♥J? Her solution was to play her fourth highest rather than an unthinking ♠10. Declarer (Michael Byrne) put up dummy’s ♠K hoping to entice a spade continuation, but Burn won and shot back a club. Byrne ruffed high, and Harriet’s ♥J became another trick — down 2.