Janet De-Botton

Bridge | 28 September 2017

Bridge | 28 September 2017
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The youngest player on the great Allfrey team, Mike Bell, is forming a very strong partnership with David Gold. They have already represented England and had a hoard of good results.

When playing at such a high level, not only do you have to be technically pitch-perfect, you also need to have the guts and imagination to go with your instincts — and not be afraid of looking a fool in front of your team mates.

This cannot be demonstrated better than with this hand from the first weekend of the Premier League:

A frisky auction saw Mike end up in the doubled slam. Unlike a couple of other declarers, he was not treated to the favourable Spade lead which allows two Diamonds to be discarded from dummy. West led a trump. He won, ruffed the ♠Queen and played a small Club from dummy.

East didn’t seem interested in this trick, so Mike placed the ♣Ace on his left.

He ruffed and tabled the Jack; West correctly played low — in case declarer has J,10 of Diamonds and a guess — and Mike let it run to East’s Ace! Dummy’s other Diamond went away on the ♠Ace and the slam was made.

Not only did young Mr Bell risk having to explain to his team mates why he went off in a cold slam when the Ace was onside — he also played for West (a top-class player) to have misread the situation when he didn’t cover. That takes guts and enormous self-confidence.

The future of English bridge is looking rosy.