Janet de Botton

Bridge | 22 April 2023

I have played the Easter Guardian in one event or another for the past 20 years. It is the perfect Easter tournament and everybody has fun, particularly in the mixed pairs. I wasn’t interested in finding a slightly more exotic alternative; the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square was where I most wanted to be.

Bridge | 8 April 2023

Imagine playing a tennis match against Nadal – and winning a game. Impossible, you would say (unless you happen to be Djokovic); but not very talented amateur bridge players can score big results against world champions – which is one of the things that makes it so special. I found out there was a smallish

Bridge | 25 March 2023

Maybe I’m wrong but I can’t think of another sport, Mind or otherwise, where you can play against world champions as soon as you have learned the basics. The American Nationals are probably the best events for superstar watching and there are always a few players in the bar happy to chat and encourage newbies.

Bridge | 11 March 2023

The Camrose Trophy is the championship between the five home countries, held over two weekends, with the host country fielding a second team to ‘make up the numbers’. My team qualified to represent England for one of those weekends – Andrew Black’s strong squad played the other – and between us we won! And yes

Bridge | 25 February 2023

Lockdown has opened up a new venue for bridge players all over the world: HOME! Last Sunday the Helgeland Junior Bridge Club organised an auction pairs online to raise money for their Juniors to play in the prestigious Marit Sveaas pairs tournament at the end of May. They opened the bidding online at the end

Bridge | 11 February 2023

The Reykjavik Bridge Festival is one of my favourites – two days pairs and two days teams. Brilliantly organised, friendly and a very high standard – what’s not to love? I played with Artur Mali, and Thor Erik Hoffa found himself a new partner, 15-year-old Nicolai Heiberg-Evenstad, a Norwegian Junior of limitless talent, who lives,

Bridge | 28 January 2023

Susanna and I are very pleased to announce we have a Fan! His name is Tony Graham and he edits the newsletter for the Oban Bridge Club. In his email he says: ‘Of all the bridge columns I read weekly [insert all the top names], yours are the ones I enjoy the most and find

Bridge | 14 January 2023

Being caught with your hand in the cookie jar must be embarrassing enough, but almost worse is being suspected/accused of cheating when you’re not! These days everyone (particularly online) is on their guard, and if you make a good play you can suddenly become the focus of attention for the wrong reason. My good friend

Bridge | 17 December 2022

This is (unbelievably) my last column of 2022 and I thought I’d give you my team’s highs and lows for the year. Highs would be winning England’s Premier League, closely followed by coming second in the World Bridge Tour’s final in Copenhagen; and you don’t get much lower than being beaten in the first round

Bridge | 03 December 2022

Many bids and plays have been named after former great players. They may not have invented the bid as such, but they have coined it and made it famous. Names like Samuel Stayman and Easley Blackwood will live on for as long as the game is played. In 1929, Theodore Lightner gave his name to

Bridge | 19 November 2022

The EBU’s Premier League (eight teams in Division 1 – seven 16-board matches each weekend) took place over three weekends, and after the second we were leading. Only one problem – I didn’t play the second weekend, which meant that to qualify I had to play five of the remaining seven matches which, naturally enough,

Bridge | 5 November 2022

Control freaks are deeply annoying and even more deeply uncool. Nobody wants to be thought of as a control freak when they think they are being organised and helpful. But at the bridge table control is everything. As declarer you are in the driving seat and understanding the concept of keeping control is vital. Often

Bridge | 22 October 2022

High-level online bridge tournaments started almost as soon as lockdown began. It was going to take more than a worldwide pandemic to stop bridge players playing the game they love. All the tournaments were good and attracted strong teams from all over the world, but the one that stood out for me was the World

Bridge | 8 October 2022

The bridge world is experiencing an explosion of junior talent and enthusiasm. One of the very best is Sweden’s Sanna Clementsson, who may be only 21 but has already won two world titles in the Venice Cup (the Women’s World Championships), was the youngest female to become a World Grand Master, and was part of

Bridge | 24 September 2022

Wroclaw, in Poland, played host to the Open World Championships in August this year. The Open Teams, the first event to be played and arguably the most prestigious (and the most fun), is known as the Rosenblum Cup. Eighty teams entered and played for a week before two emerged as the finalists. They were an

Bridge | 10 September 2022

When was the last time you made a doubled slam – a slam that could and should have been defeated – and lost IMPs on it? Today’s hand comes from the qualifying rounds of the Mixed Teams at the World Bridge Series in Wroclaw. The North hand was shared all over social media, but it’s

Bridge | 27 August 2022

Do we need complicated bidding systems to reach the best contracts? The Portland Club (men only) operates a no conventions at all policy, which most of its members don’t stick to if they are playing outside tournaments. Some however treat ‘natural’ bidding with a fervour bordering on the messianic. One such was the ghastly Demetri

Bridge | 13 August 2022

To paraphrase E.L. Wisty, the late, great Peter Cook’s alter ego, ‘Some people are born lazy, some become lazy and some have laziness thrust upon them.’ If you are any of these, there are going to be some contracts that you could make but don’t. I speak from years of experience! The more we play,

Bridge | 30 July 2022

The bridge world is coming back to life with a bang. The World Championships were held (live) in March, the Europeans in June, the Rosenblum Cup (transnational teams) is coming up in Poland mid-August, and tucked in between, the ACBL’s Summer National Spingold Teams, won by Pierre Zimmermann’s brand-new, unstained, all-singing, all-dancing, glittering team, who

Bridge | 16 July 2022

The return to pre-Covid normality has been slow and a bit dispiriting. Attendance at the popular English tournaments has been worryingly low with some events being cancelled (or moved online) because so few pairs had entered. Going anywhere abroad has been tinged with terror because what if you tested positive and had to isolate for…