Janet de Botton

Bridge | 18 July 2019

Bridge | 18 July 2019
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I have always thought the term ‘bridge holiday’ was an oxymoron. When I travel with my team to various events, we play highly competitively for about eight hours every day — a holiday it ain’t. Concentrating all the time is exhausting and (for me) impossible. Then there is the inevitable insomnia and the resulting ridiculous howlers in the bidding and play. And defence? Tragic. The only tournament I play that feels like a real holiday is the International Bridge Festival of Biarritz, held every year in July, from which I have just returned. Can there be anything better than falling asleep to the sound of the sea, eating delicious food and playing bridge for four hours daily from 4 p.m.? I don’t think so. The tournament is played in the loveliest of locations, the old Bellevue casino, and runs for two weeks with different teams and pairs tournaments taking place every day. And there is very generous prize money to boot. There were many great players competing in the Open Pairs event, including Michel Bessis, father of young French superstar Thomas.

West led the ♠3. Michel started by winning ♠A, giving away as little information as possible and leaving both defenders wondering if they were on to a good lead or not. Next, he took the fake finesse with a heart to the Queen and finally, instead of laying down A, he played small to dummy’s 9! Having disguised 9 of his 15 points, it was no surprise that East put him with at least a decent Club suit and returned his partner’s suit. If he hadn’t, declarer hasn’t lost anything — but he could try holding his cards up better.