I know its only October, but I’ve already found the perfect Christmas present for bridge-lovers: Simon Cochemé’s new book, Bridge With a Twist. It’s full of quirky observations, funny anecdotes, snippets of history and flights of fancy. There are jokes, some old (‘My bridge partner ran off with my wife, and let me tell you, I really miss him’), some new (‘My wife uses the double card so much she’s known as my x-wife’). There are tales from tournament directors about the crazy things they’ve been summoned for — like the player who complained he’d misdefended because declarer had sounded so confident when thanking dummy that he’d been led to believe the contract was making.
Cochemé is particularly interested in the language of bridge, and the way idioms vary from country to country. I think it’s rather sweet that in Poland an 800 penalty is a ‘Snowman’; and I enjoyed learning that in Turkey, clubs are known as ‘flies’, in Poland ‘acorns’ and in China ‘plum blossoms’.
The book also contains plenty of interesting hands — including, as it happens, an excellent defence from Sally Brock while I was lucky enough to be partnering her in the England Women’s Trials ten years ago (see diagram).
Sally was West. Her 2♣ was the start of an SOS ‘wriggle’: 2♥ now showed both Majors. I led the ♠8. Declarer won in dummy and played the 8◆. Remember, we had no idea about declarer’s long diamond suit — yet Sally had no problem finding the expert defence: she rose with the ◆Q. Whether declarer won or ducked, she was cut off from the suit and forced to go one down.