It’s not surprising that so many bridge players feel such a sentimental attachment to The Young Chelsea. The club was founded nearly 50 years ago, and since then has been a home from home for countless lovers of the game, and the breeding ground for many of England’s greatest stars. If you haven’t yet been to its new premises in Shepherds Bush you really should; you won’t find a better standard of duplicate anywhere.
The Young Chelsea also hosts the London Super League, a teams event set up by its manager Nick Sandqvist, which again I heartily recommend. I’m on a team alternately captained by my friends Paul Martin and Mark Lehto (both excellent players), and although we were relegated to Division Two last season, we’re having a great time trying to claw our way back to Division One. It’s all going well so far — we had a good win last week, thanks in part to a hilarious hand which Paul showed us in the bar afterwards. Pity poor West, who made what he thought was an innocuous discard and got duly punished by Paul (North):
East’s 2♥ bid showed hearts and a minor. He led the ♣Q. Paul ducked. East continued with the ♣Q, which Paul won with the ♣K. He now ran five rounds of diamonds. East discarded two spades and two hearts. On the fifth diamond, West — an eminent player who shall remain nameless — casually decided to give his partner ‘count’ in hearts by playing the ♥2. Disaster! It was hard to envisage, but that ª2 turned out to be crucial in guarding the ♥5 — which was bigger than declarer’s third heart. East was now squeezed: if he threw a third heart, Paul could cash three hearts (♥AK4) for nine tricks; so he discarded a winning club, and now Paul could knock out the ♠A with impunity.