Call me middle-aged, but the days when I enjoyed playing bridge all night are long gone — which is why I opted out of last weekend’s 24-hour marathon at the Young Chelsea Bridge Club. Thankfully, 27 brave pairs did play, starting at midday on Saturday, and ending at midday on Sunday (without a break). By all accounts, no one struggled — apart from poor David Muller, who had heroically offered to direct. Without the stimulation of playing, he fell asleep at his desk a few times — meaning the usual cry of ‘Director!’, became a crescendo of cries: ‘Director! Director! Director!!’.
Four of the ‘pairs’ chose to enter as a threesome, as at least one of them wanted a break. This was perfectly legitimate; it was arguably advantageous, but plenty of players believe it’s better to play straight through. Anyway, it was a threesome who won — Simon Gillis, Tom Paske and Alex Hydes — and in thrilling style, overtaking the leaders at the last hour. In this deal, Alex Hydes showed his tremendous table presence [see image above].
West led the ♦8 to East’s ♦J. Hydes ducked, and East continued with the uK (West playing the ♦7). It seemed to Hydes that East had ‘some number of diamonds’ to the ♦KQJ — but not six as he would have overcalled. This was a critical hand — within only eight boards to go, they were nearly 2 per cent behind the leaders. If ever there was a time to back his gut feeling and go for a ‘top’, it was now. The normal play in trumps is to cash the A from AQ to cater for a singleton J or 10 in either hand. But Alex decided that if anyone held shortage, it was East. So he cashed the ♠K, then played low to the ♠9! Next, trusting that East didn’t hold six diamonds, he ruffed a diamond in hand — and claimed 12 tricks.