Janet de Botton

Bridge | 12 September 2019

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Not many male bridge players over a certain age (ten) would call themselves feminists. I won’t repeat what the partner of one female European gold medallist said of her (and all women bridge players) at the table, but it wasn’t pretty.

At a recent mixed pairs tournament a married couple — let’s call them Jack and Jill — were playing and Jill was declarer, never a relaxing moment for hubby. It seems she conceded a trick at the end of the hand when in fact, as Jack pointed out, she had the rest. The director was called and read aloud from the law book: ‘A player cannot concede a trick when it’s impossible to lose another trick’ — at which point Jack said to the director and anyone within earshot that it was never impossible for Jill to lose another trick. She could always find a way.

I thought of this story when today’s hand came up playing rubber bridge. Perhaps Jill would have made 5♣ by losing a trick in a suit where she didn’t have a loser (see diagram):

West led the ♠Q. Who would you be at trick one? Jack or Jill?

When the hand was played, South (Jack) wasted no time in winning the first Spade and drawing trump. When East gained the lead in Diamonds, the inevitable Heart switch led to a speedy one down. Now look at it when declarer is Jill who ducks the opening lead, a trick she didn’t have to lose. She would eventually throw a Diamond from hand on the ♠K, ruff the Diamonds good and emerge with an overtrick. Not such a coconut.