Susanna Gross

Bridge | 25 June 2022

Bridge | 25 June 2022
Text settings

At a bridge tournament about 15 years ago, I started chatting to a friendly, eccentric woman in her mid-sixties, wearing a sequined baseball cap. I had no idea who she was, but when she told me her name, I knew at once: the well-regarded bridge columnist of the Independent. What I hadn’t realised was that Maureen Hiron, who died last week, led such a fascinating life outside of bridge. She started her career as a teacher at a London comprehensive, but was pensioned off at 32 when an air-conditioner fell on her head. The accident, she believed, somehow unshackled her creativity, and soon after, she invented Continuo, an abstract strategy game played with coloured tiles. It rapidly became the bestselling game in England. She went on to invent 70 more games which sold across the world, and co-authored several trivia quiz books with her husband. As if that wasn’t enough, she wrote songs, and for a while was manager of the pop group Boney M., having made friends with one of them on a Caribbean cruise. And all the while, she played bridge at the highest level, several times representing England in the women’s game.

Here she is in action, bringing home a slam that most players in the same tournament failed to make.

Against 6♥, West led the ♦A and continued the suit. The only thing that could go wrong was a bad heart split: if West held Jxxx there was no hope, but if East did, she might prevail via a trump coup. To reduce her trumps to the same number as East, she began by cashing the ♠A and ruffing a spade. Then came the ♥A and a heart to the ♥K (West showing out), followed by another spade ruff. She now cashed her minor suit winners, ending in dummy with the A♣, and in the 2-card ending, a spade from dummy caught East’s ♥J under her ♥Q10.