Janet de Botton

Bridge | 20 June 2019

Bridge | 20 June 2019
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Here we go again. The ninth European Bridge Championships are upon us, this time taking place in Istanbul. Hundreds of Europe’s bridge elite (and many from further afield) descended for some or all of the tournaments, even though it is usually torture. Four years ago in Tromso there was the Portaloo scandal (don’t ask) and two years ago in Montecatini there was the not insignificant problem of an ambulance arriving in mid-session to revive some poor old biddy (not me) who had fainted from the extreme heat and lack of AC. As we landed in Istanbul, I braced myself for the worst but got a pleasant surprise. There are indoor loos and air-conditioning. I was ecstatic.

The mixed teams had two days’ qualification for the play-offs and if you were knocked out, there was a BAM (board a match) side event. BAM is the most difficult and exacting form of duplicate bridge. Making your contract is only half the problem; winning the board is the other half. Every miserable little error is punished.

Here is a hand from the early stages: (see image)

West led the ♠Q — over to you.

When this hand came up in the BAM tournament, every table made 10 tricks apart from two — who made 12! The two who took some time to study the hand, rather than give it a cursory glance, ducked the opening lead. West naturally continued Spades, won by declarer who drew a couple of rounds of trump. Then it was time for King and Ace of Diamonds, dumping a Diamond in hand on the ♠K and ruffing them good. Dummy was re-entered in trumps and away went both of South’s Clubs.