Janet de Botton

Bridge | 24 February 2024

‘I haven’t seen this before,’ began a recent email from my friend and frequent contributor Nick Sandqvist. That meant it would be a bit special, and it certainly was. Double game swings are not as rare as you may think: 4♥ making one way and 4♠ the other – usually with a double attached –

Bridge | 10 February 2024

The Reykjavik Bridge Festival, held annually at the end of January, is one of the great treats of the bridge calendar, and this year it was twice as good: Thomas Charlsen decided to hold his terrific World Bridge Tour (WBT) just preceding it to make it easier for teams who wanted to play both. In

Bridge | 27 January 2024

The London Teams of Four was the first bridge tournament of the new year and was a very close affair. Kevin Castner finally prevailed against the opposition with his team of (partner) Phil King and teammates Sebastian Atisen and Stefano Tommasini – the last newly selected, with his regular partner Ben Norton, to represent England

Bridge | 13 January 2024

The one bridge resolution I made years ago was that if you have a 5-4 fit in a suit, play for the drop (i.e. play for the outstanding cards to be 2-2) unless there is a huge reason not to. The one time I deviated from my resolution was in Hungary, in a very strong

Bridge | 16 December 2023

This is my last column for 2023 and I thought I would give you the highs and lows of my bridge team over the past year. The high was definitely winning the Gold Cup and almost as good was being one of two teams winning the Camrose for England. The low, by a big margin,

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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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

Bridge | 1 July 2023

Rubber bridge may be poorly but it’s not flatlining yet. TGR’s BC in Paddington provides a game or two every afternoon (and some evenings) and attracts visitors from all over the world who want to experience the unique thrill of playing and defending with and against world-class opposition. It was the battle of the Titans

Bridge | 03 June 2023

Three enormous cheers for Thomas Charlsen, Norwegian International and great friend and teammate, for setting up and working day and night to organise the World Bridge Tour ‘hybrid’ invitational, which last week saw the first live tournament held in Sopot, Poland’s Brighton-on-sea. Twelve teams competed at the wonderful Grand Hotel where we stayed and played.

Bridge | 20 May 2023

In the real world many more contracts are made because the defence slipped up than because declarer did something brilliant. It is of course important to learn to communicate in defence, but we also need to learn to take charge and lead the way when the right path is clearly shown to us. When spotting

Bridge | 06 May 2023

‘The more I practise the luckier I get.’ This is the mantra used against those of us who are dumbfounded by the awfulness of picking up endless Yarboroughs at rubber bridge and playing against the only pair in the room to bid a slam in duplicate matches. But what about the other end of the