Not many people can say they’ve partnered David Gold and been the better player — but I’m one of them. Admittedly, it was 20 years ago. He was 17 and had been playing for about a month when he decided to test his skill in the pound game at St John’s Wood bridge club. I’d been playing there for a couple of years. I can still vividly remember a sweet, shy, slightly ungainly boy who was unsure of his bidding and kept apologising, but who clearly had a big talent for the game. I managed to stay better than him for all of a week.
Today David is, of course, one of the world’s top players, and my bridge guru. I’m lucky enough to play with him regularly, and I even carry a notebook to jot down his many tips on bidding and play. At last weekend’s Easter Congress, for instance, we had a chat about the best lead against no trumps when holding AKxxx or KQxxx — I’m always dithering about whether to play an honour or a low card. David’s advice is to lead an honour when you have an outside entry, and a small card when you don’t. Simple, and pretty obvious when you think about it. Funnily enough, shortly after, an opponent demonstrated in spectacular fashion what can go wrong when you don’t follow that advice:
West made a truly bad lead — the ♥6. His partner obviously had zilch and wasn’t going to get in to return the suit, so there was no point underleading his honours. David now had a precious entry to take the diamond finesse. It looks like he still has only 8 tricks. But when he ran the diamonds West was squeezed in three suits! On the last diamond he had to discard from ♠A,♥AK74, ♣KQ. He threw a heart, and now David played the ♠J. West won and cashed his three heart tricks — but that was it for the defence.