Janet De-Botton

Bridge | 24 November 2016

Bridge | 24 November 2016
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When I first started playing bridge, in the late Nineties, the Young Chelsea marathon was a continuous 24-hour tournament and the stories that came out of those events are legendary: Richard Selway, late, great host at TGRs, winning and going straight to work afterwards. A Norwegian pair, who had not slept at all the night before and who, after winning, took their prize money to the casino and either lost it all or doubled it over the next 12 hours. Sorry, I can’t remember which of those actually happened — and it doesn’t really matter. You get the picture.

Nowadays it is a far more genteel affair and has morphed into a twice-yearly half-marathon, 11 a.m.–11 p.m., which has become very popular even though it possibly lacks some of the lunacy and alcohol consumption of the original! The last one was held a couple of weeks ago and was won convincingly by Rob Cliffe and Brian McGuire. This was Board 1 (of 88) at matchpoint scoring. Clearly, there is a long way to go, but a good result never hurts — whenever it comes:

Brian was sitting West, and kicked off with three rounds of Clubs. Declarer won and played three rounds of Diamonds, putting West on lead again. This did not suit Brian one bit, but he tried the effect of the ♠Jack. South won in hand, and fell victim to ‘first board syndrome’. He fatally played one more round of trumps, allowing a relieved West to jettison his ♠King. Now Declarer could not avoid East gaining the lead in Spades, and when he did, the Heart through meant South had to go one down.

This translated into a 70 per cent board instead of 30 per cent — a great start for the eventual winners.