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Susanna Gross

Bridge | 19 September 2020

Bridge | 19 September 2020
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My friend Ollie Burgess has just made the bold move of quitting his job in Manchester, and moving to London to manage the Young Chelsea Bridge Club. Ollie is a fantastic player, as well as being popular and dynamic — exactly what’s needed. The YC is much loved by its members, but its numbers have been dwindling in recent years. It would be a huge shame if it ever closed, not just because it attracts such a high standard of player, but also because it has a long and rich history. It first opened its doors in 1968, and for decades enjoyed a reputation as the best and most exciting club in the country. The stars of the game would flock there, and stay long into the night. I still remember the time Bill Gates, visiting London, rang and asked whether the club might find him a partner (he ended up playing with its chairman, Ian Payn).

If anyone can restore the club’s fortunes, it’s Ollie. Already, the Monday and Friday evening online duplicates are buzzing, and he’s introduced online teaching, too. I’ve been lucky enough to partner Ollie many times. Here he is in action at the last Spring Fours.

West led the ♣5. East won, and returned the ♠J. Ollie did well to duck. When East continued the suit, he played low again, and West won with the ♠A. West switched back to clubs. Ollie won with the ♣Q and played ◆AK and a third diamond to dummy’s ◆Q. East showed out. Instead of pinning his hopes on a 3-3 heart break, Olly rectified the count for a possible major-suit squeeze against East: he played a fourth diamond, discarding his ♠Q. West won, and played another club to dummy’s ♣K. East, down to ♠K ♥10952, was squeezed: nine tricks were in the bag.