Janet de Botton

Bridge | 1 September 2016

By the time you read this, I will have (hopefully) played my first hand of bridge in five weeks.

No bridge and very little BBO vugraph of interest — the withdrawal pangs were coming with painful regularity, so to take the edge off I turned to reading. Bridge Tips by World Masters, in which Terence Reese develops and enlarges the now famous Bols Bridge Tips from 24 world stars, was my favourite holiday read. Although it was published over 30 years ago I found them all fascinating, but Jean Besse, Swiss world star in the Fifties and Sixties, really touched a nerve with his advice: ‘Beware of your trump tricks. When you see a chance for an easy overruff, don’t be in too great a hurry to take it.’

I don’t know about you but I need to be handcuffed to the back of the chair not to overruff, although it is slightly easier to resist when you have length or strength in trumps. More difficult are those occasions when the defender with the shorter or weaker trump holding must deny himself the instant gratification of a trick in the bag. I would almost certainly have made a proper muppet of myself on this hand:

West led the 10 and East played off the top three Hearts. If, on the third round of hearts, West pumps up with the ♠Q, declarer will discard from dummy, finesse East’s ♠K, and make his contract. If, on the other hand, West rises to the occasion and discards (say) a diamond, South will ruff in dummy and thereafter have to lose two trump tricks and his contract.

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