Susanna Gross

Bridge | 20 November 2014

Bridge | 20 November 2014
Text settings

It’s one of the burning political issues of the day: why don’t more MPs play bridge? Two weeks ago, the 40th annual bridge match between the House of Lords and the House of Commons took place, and while the captain of the Lords, Baroness Henig, had no problem getting seven fellow peers to make up her team, the captain of the Commons — Bob Blackman MP — couldn’t find any volunteers at all, and had to enlist ex-MPs such as Michael Mates and Robin Squire.

I think it’s time the Prime Minister intervened. I happen to know that he loves the game: about 20 years ago I played in a regular foursome with him, along with Neil Mendoza and Dominic Loehnis. (I remember once being mildly irritated because his new girlfriend Sam popped by — sweet, shy and with perfect legs — and David kept wrapping his arms round her rather than focusing on the task in hand: being my partner).

Anyway, we must cheer Bob Blackman, who is trying to widen the appeal of bridge by encouraging students to play in schools and universities. He himself is a fine player — as I saw for myself when I went along to the House of Lords to watch the match (which was won by the Commons’ team):

East cashed the AK and switched to the ♣4. It looks like declarer has a club and another diamond to lose. But Bob won West’s ♣K with his ♣A, cashed the ♠K and drew trumps. Then he cashed the ♠A, discarding a club, ruffed a spade and exited with a club. East was on lead and was forced to concede a ruff-and-discard. Incidentally, if East hadn’t switched to a club, Bob could have drawn trumps and led a diamond from dummy to set up his J for a club discard. The only way East can beat 4 is to switch to the ♣Q at trick three!