Few things in life compare to the joy of playing bridge, but if I rack my brain I can think of one: watching other people playing bridge. Tuning in to BBO’s Vugraph is not just fun, but a great way of improving our own game. And it can be quite an ego-boost. It’s easy, looking at all four hands, to see how a contract should be played – how often have we all tut-tutted when someone goes wrong, convinced that we would have found the right line?
Kibitzing world-class players, however, the opposite is true – when they take a different line to the one we envisage, it shines a spotlight on our own limitations.
The Champions League final has been moved from St Petersburg to Paris and the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi cancelled. It was obvious that the Chess Olympiad, to take place in Moscow in July and August, could not continue as planned. Last week, this was confirmed by Fide, the international federation, and it is reported that the Indian federation has put forward a bid worth
$10 million to host the event.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has repercussions for chess that go well beyond the Olympiad.
White to play and win. A gem discovered by the Ukrainian composer Vladislav Tarasiuk with Israeli composer Amatzia Avni. How does White avoid stalemate and secure the win? Answers should be sent to ‘Chess’ at The Spectator by 7 March or via email to email@example.com. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. Please include a postal address and allow six weeks for prize delivery.
Last week’s solution 1.
41 (four words) suggests the other unclued lights – which are individual examples (not group names) of a kind – and how they must be entered in the grid. All answers are in Chambers.
8 American twice rejected West African (4)
11 Like some plants you’d set in cold ground without oxygen (14)
12 One’s fired head dismissed from private school (5)
14 Insect-eating rodent moving lightly (7)
16 On the job, one way or another (4, two words)
21 No good place for putting ditch (4)
22 Noble king left to appear later (4)
23 Titans of business, one admitting defeat (7)
25 Kind of acid – it blocks most of neck pain (6)
26 Glimpse in newspaper, customarily (6)
28 Regretted hiding key that’s delivered (7)
31 A fly-by-night husband following Irish girl (4)
32 Cancel country club party (4)
35 Writer from Shetland moving around (8)
36 Paler, suffering old illness (5)
37 American city regressing once more (4)
39 Arterial road city almost developed (7)
40 Mug shot’s frame, one from Europe (5)
42 Endless row in school once (4)
43 Bet cat gets crushed after gently running free (8)
1 Rebel about to maintain high acid level of soil (7)
2 Daughter with needle or dagger (4)
3 Pile for Scot also with lots of Cambodian money (6)
4 Men protecting case of young spiders (7)
5 Lift up recipe at home for purgative (8)
7 Celebrating Noel, missing parties (11)
8 Navy in the drink to follow a winding course (5)
9 Liquor stalls set to hold posh officer up (9)
10 Compilers concocted fuel that’s valuable (6)
13 Calls to limit obstacle for butterflies (8)
15 One making weak malt? Carouse wildly! (11)
24 Set of organic compounds for now storing zero energy (8)
27 Strips locks from hotel, one in awful ruins (7)
29 Spectacles, say, of English tree and some wheat (7)
31 Court in poor area raised fines (6)
33 Verse oddly titled for lady (6)
34 What predators do in communications with bird (5)
38 Clothed king, clothed by contemptible fellow (4)
A first prize of £30 for the first correct solution opened on 21 March.
The unclued lights and COMPOSERS (35A) are RIBBONS/Gibbons (1A), MAILER/Mahler (7),
RAMEAN/Rameau (25), WANTON/Walton (26A), DELICES/Delibes (46), RAVENER/Tavener (1D),
BELLING/Bellini (4), RAMPION/Campion (12), WRITTEN/Britten (26D). Title: cf. Charles-Marie WIDOR.
First prize Peter Moody, Portchester, Hampshire
Runners-up Alexander Caldin, Salford, Oxfordshire; Toby West-Taylor, Bristol
In Competition No. 3238, you were invited to submit a poem about a literary feud.
Wallace Stevens’s 1936 fisticuffs with Ernest Hemingway cropped up several times in what was a modestly sized but entertaining entry. The insurance executive-poet broke his hand, in two places, in the course of an unedifying punch-up in Key West (‘Stevens hit me flush on the jaw with his Sunday punch bam like that…’).
Norman Mailer headbutting Gore Vidal backstage at the Dick Cavett talk show also loomed large, but it was a war of words between two female writers that caught the imagination of Sylvia Fairley.