Susanna Gross

Bridge | 18 October 2012

I’ve just come back from Tessa and Stuart Wheeler’s stunning house, Dar Sinclair, in Tangier. It’s a lovely time of year to go: the sun was shining, the sea was warm, the souk was beckoning. But this was Stuart’s annual bridge week — so naturally we hardly stepped outdoors.

The bridge gang included Andrew Robson (the ‘resident pro’), his partner Alexander Allfrey, and several seasoned Portland players like Patrick Lawrence, Bernard Teltcher and Giles Hargreaves. We discussed and analysed hands non-stop, even during meals, on car journeys and at the airport. What poor Tessa and her two non-bridge-playing guests made of us, I hate to think; but she assures me she’s used to it.

The cards produced plenty of drama. We were playing ‘goulash’ (all hands passed at the 1-level or below are redealt in batches of 5–5–3 to produce extreme distributions); Stuart Wheeler was South in this one:

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West led a low heart to East’s J and Stuart’s A. Obviously, if diamonds come in, you have 13 tricks. The question is, do you finesse or not? Stuart didn’t hesitate: he played a diamond to the A, dropping East’s singleton K. ‘How did you know?’ exclaimed East. ‘I didn’t,’ Stuart replied. ‘It was a safety play. West didn’t lead a spade, so I assume he’s void — in which case I don’t mind losing a trick to him.

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