Susanna Gross

Bridge | 16 June 2012

Bridge | 16 June 2012
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The 2012 European championships are upon us. No, not football, I’m talking about the ones we actually stand a chance of winning: bridge. England has fielded three excellent teams in the Open, Womens and Seniors events, held in Dublin. I’ll be following the Seniors with particular interest because my friend Simon Cocheme is making his England debut as non-playing captain.

Simon is well known in the bridge world for his hugely entertaining articles on the game. Recently, he’s been focusing on the language of bridge, and how it differs round the world. Thanks to him I now know, for instance, that the Poles call an 800 penalty a snowman, and in Thailand a 1,100 penalty is known as a Fiat. In England small cards are known as rags, but in Iceland they are dogs and in Bulgaria vushki, fleas. Americans say hook for finesse, but the Greeks use hook to mean a Jack; in Sri Lanka a Jack is a donkey; and in India donkey means dummy.

Simon is not just a superbly informative bridge writer, he’s also a fine player — although he claims he has only ever made one bid he is really proud of. Here it is:

Playing Pairs, South (your partner) opens 3♣. West overcalls 3NT. And you? Ideally, you’d like to sacrifice in four of a major. But how can you ask partner for his better one? Simon’s solution was ingenious. He began by overcalling 4◆, his void. Of course, he was doubled by East. When the bidding came back to him, he redoubled. His partner, Stuart Langridge, worked out that this had to be an ‘SOS’ double, so he bid his longer major: 4♥. West’s double ended the auction. It turned out that the only lead to beat it was a trump — almost impossible for West, holding two AKs! West led the ◆A. Declarer managed to get a spade ruff and the defence took only the A♠ and two trumps. Let’s hope the Seniors find bids like that in Dublin!