I sometimes get far too intense when I’m playing bridge online. Holed up in my study at home, wearing noise-cancelling headphones, I forbid my children from interrupting and bark angrily if they do. When things go well, I’m elated, but when I make a blunder or suffer bad luck, I feel genuine angst.
The other evening, my 13-year-old daughter Milly wandered into my bedroom as I was kibitzing a game. She snuggled up to me for a while and then, assuming I was playing rather than watching, exclaimed: ‘Mum, no offence, but you should play in your pyjamas in bed more often — you’re much more relaxed and always know exactly what to do.’
Kibitzing involves all the fun and none of the pressure — but it’s not true that I always know exactly what to do. Even with the benefit of seeing all four hands, I often need world-class players to show me the way. Last week, for instance, I saw the brilliant young Swede Ola Rimstedt make 4♠ as if by magic while I was still trying to formulate a plan.
North led the ♣3 to South’s ♣A. South continued with a low heart. Ola (West) won with the ♥A, and after some thought, played a spade to dummy’s ♠8! When that won, he cashed the ♣QJ, discarding diamonds, and ruffed a club. Next he cashed the ♥K, discarding a diamond, and ruffed a heart. He continued with the ◆K to North’s ◆A. The defence now had two tricks. But North — down to ♠KQ9 ◆J while dummy held ♠AJ ◆Q10 — was helpless. Whatever he did, he could make just one more trick. He tried exiting with the ♠9, but Ola won with the ♠J, cashed the ♠A and ◆Q and claimed.