Bridge | 2 December 2023

Both TGRs and Young Chelsea run highly successful League matches on alternate Wednesday evenings. Organised impeccably by Gitte Hecht-Johansen, you play 24 boards against the seven other teams in your division, the two teams coming last getting relegated. It is wonderful practice for players who want to test their bidding skills and declarer play in

Bridge | 25 November 2023

At high-stake rubber bridge, it’s not uncommon for players – nearly always male, I should add – to react to a penalty double as though a direct challenge has been made to their manlihood: out comes the redouble card, essentially quadrupling the stakes. But they have a point: in bridge lingo, if you make a

Bridge | 18 November 2023

I have been bragging incessantly about my team’s success in the Gold Cup. What an extraordinary comeback we made taking 69 imps back in the last eight boards. I may have even mentioned it to the local newsagent. Well – that was then. After three weekends of Premier League not only didn’t we win, we

Bridge | 4 November 2023

If I could play only one international tournament a year it would have to be the World Bridge Tour’s teams event held in mid-October in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen. Organised impeccably by Thomas Charlsen and Boye Brogeland, two of Norway’s finest players, this was the second time we have played in the city – and it

Bridge | 28 October 2023

It’s surprising how many bridge players seem to think they’ll never be able to execute a squeeze. They talk as though squeezes are the preserve of experts – a view no doubt reinforced by all those technical terms like ‘rectifying the count’ and ‘isolating the menace’. But there are plenty of books to guide people

Bridge | 21 October 2023

When do you concede a match? I was considering it when, after 56 boards, we were a vast 48 IMPs down in our Gold Cup semi-final with eight boards to go. Fortunately my team wouldn’t hear of it and in they went with my battle cry of ‘Believe you can do it’ echoing around the

Bridge | 14 October 2023

Everyone knows how hard it is to keep fighting when you’re behind in a match. But it ain’t over till the fat lady sings – and if anyone needed reminding of it, they only had to watch the Gold Cup semi-finals last Saturday. After 56 boards, Janet de Botton and her team were down 50

Bridge | 07 October 2023

The Vilnius Cup – the Grand Prix of Poland – is a highly enjoyable, strong annual tournament, impeccably organised by Erikas Vainikonis. Thirty-two teams played to qualify for the eight-team final which team SUSHI dominated, cruising undefeated through the playoffs to claim the €3,000 prize by a big margin. Congrats to Nathalie Shashou and Nick

Bridge | 30 September 2023

I never make psychic bids. The only time I tried, it backfired horribly: my partner leapt to slam and we went for an unthinkable penalty. I decided there and then that psyching was best left to those with a real nose for it – not to mention nerves of steel. The art of psyching is,

Bridge | 23 September 2023

The great Bob Hamman, in his heyday the best player in the world, was once asked what the biggest mistakes of his bridge career had been, and he answered: ‘To gamble on a penalty instead of bidding our own contract.’ The longer I play this game, the more I realise how right he is; defending

Bridge | 16 September 2023

I’m hugely ignorant when it comes to history – and just about everything else, except for bridge – but I do know a little about the Spanish-American war. Why? Because one of its most dramatic episodes, the sinking of the cargo ship Merrimac, has lent its name to a bridge coup. Early in 1898, the

Bridge | 09 September 2023

The Bermuda Bowl, the most prestigious bridge World Championship, ended last weekend with a riveting final between Switzerland and Norway. Congratulations to Pierre Zimmermann’s team of ‘Swiss’ players: Michal Nowosadzki, Jacek Kalita and Michal Klukowski, Sjoert Brink and Bas Drijver. You would be quite right in thinking they don’t sound very Swiss, but hey –

Bridge | 2 September 2023

The World Championships are taking place in Marrakesh, and when I log on to Vugraph I feel like a child in a sweet shop, spoilt for choice about who to watch. And yet an old expression which I heard as a child keeps coming back to me: you know you’re getting old when policemen start

Bridge | 26 August 2023

To over-ruff or not to over-ruff? THAT is the question. Terence Reese said: ‘When you’re offered an over-ruff, think twice about it, and then reject it.’ If you have a natural trump trick, it’s usually wrong to waste it on an over-ruff, but when you don’t, it can be hard to resist. Good old Terence

Bridge | 19 August 2023

They say a two-way finesse is never a complete guess: there are always clues to be gleaned from the bidding and play. That’s not strictly true, as the great Giorgio Belladonna once demonstrated at a tournament when, after a long think, he turned to a kibitzer and asked him to toss a coin. But even

Bridge | 12 August 2023

All bridge players who fancy their chances on the international circuit have been deprived of major events since lockdown, until this year. And now, frankly, we’re being inundated: Iceland in late January, the Lederer in February, Camrose in March, the World Bridge Tour in Sopot mid-May, the Open European Championships in Strasbourg in June, the

Bridge | 8 August 2023

It’s been more than 30 years since Zia Mahmood published his classic memoir, Bridge My Way*, and now – finally! – he brings us up to date with Bridge, A Love Story. It’s published next week, and having just binge-read an early copy, I can assure you that it’s every bit as brilliant. Zia is

Bridge | 29 July 2023

Imagination is often overlooked when discussing what makes a great bridge player. Ofc, being able to count to 13 helps, but imagination is different. It can’t be taught. This hand, from the recent European Open Championships, features one of the most imaginative players around – Sweden’s brilliant but temperamental Peter Fredin – in the East

Bridge | 22 July 2023

Bridge isn’t a game you can master quickly. Quite the opposite: with every new level you reach, another looms above you. The higher you climb, the more humbling it is: possibilities you didn’t even know existed reveal themselves, yet remain beyond your grasp. Frankly, even Sisyphus wouldn’t swap places. Recently, one of the clients I

Bridge | 15 July 2023

Geir Helgemo, widely considered to be the best player in the world, regularly gets followed around by a posse of devoted fans (myself included) who ask him questions about various points of play. ‘How do you always “guess” where every card is?’ is one that particularly interests me, as the ability to ‘read’ the cards