Janet de Botton

Bridge | 12 October 2017

Somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m., I turn off the lights but I can’t turn off my whirring brain. Cards float before me, doubled contracts torment me and unbid slams haunt me. My antidote to this is Desert Island Discs. I always hope for someone who unexpectedly plays bridge or has a bridge story, Omar Sharif being the only one, until last night when I downloaded Jack Lemmon. Asked by Sue Lawley about his parents and childhood, he came up with the astonishing tale of how and why he was born in a hospital lift. His mother and father were playing bridge — and winning — and they ignored all signs of labour until they could ignore them no longer! Jack was almost born in the car as it raced to the hospital, but his parents made it to the hospital lift, pressed the button and…calamity! It got stuck between two floors. No wonder his comic timing was so great.

This hand, from the Friday Night IMPs game at YC, must have caused many a sleepless night:

The lead was the 7. Most Declarers tend to address the trump situation first and it looks obvious to try the Spade finesse, running the ♠Jack from dummy. When it lost to the Queen, they needed something good to happen in the Heart suit and, when that was not forthcoming, most of them went minus.

Some of the better players had another plan: they took their two Diamonds, played Ace and King of Clubs, cashed the Ace and ruffed a Club in hand. With the minors eliminated, it was time to lead the ♠King from hand.

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