Susanna Gross

Bridge | 4 April 2020

Bridge | 4 April 2020
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I’m finding it harder than I thought to concentrate while playing bridge online. And not just because my two children are constantly at home. No, my worst distraction turns out to be… myself.

Until now, I’ve never fully appreciated the importance of sitting patiently while you’re dummy. Often, I’ve found myself wishing it wasn’t considered rude to read a magazine or stretch your legs when a hand is taking ages. During my first ever online game last week — a Young Chelsea duplicate with Peter Taylor — I took full advantage of my invisibility. Whenever I was dummy, I would reply to an email, or fetch a snack; at one point, I even started mucking out the guinea pig cage. Yet each time I returned to my screen, my shift of focus led to careless mistakes. So from now on I’m staying put!

I’ve been very impressed by the way online bridge has taken off. The English Bridge Union, and clubs around the country, have really risen to the challenge. Andrew Robson’s club is just one of many offering daily duplicates. Andrew himself has also launched a brilliant daily Bridgecast, which already has 2,000 subscribers. Try this problem, from last week (see diagram).

West leads the ♥Q. You have a club and two diamonds to lose, so you need to avoid losing a spade. Normally, the odds favour finessing. However, West opened the bidding, which means East can have no more than 4 or 5 points. Now think about West’s lead. Most people, holding AK in a suit, lead the ace. From this simple fact, we can assume West doesn’t hold the ◆AK. So East must hold one honour — and is unlikely to also hold the♠K. The right play is to place West with a singleton ♠K and go for the drop!