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Rubber Bridge

Although, unlike Zia, Rubber Bridge is not my first love (I prefer the cut-and-thrust of Matchpointed Pairs), I learnt to play at the Rubber Table, so it is very dear to my heart. Family Rubber Bridge, student Rubber Bridge, hosting at London Rubber Clubs Green Street and the London School of Bridge (both now defunct), I must have played many tens of thousands of Rubber Bridge deals over the past 30 years.

These days, I have less time - or cause - to play much Rubber. However there is one group of players with whom I still love to play. Not because I hope to fleece them, you understand (although I do have a small edge, I consistently fail to exploit it); rather, because they are fascinating, successful people, as well as very good amateur Bridge players. I’m referring to London’s Portland Club. I cannot be a member - no “Pros” allowed, but am an occasional visitor, and regular participator in their away games.

One of my annual highlights is a week at Tessa and Stuart Wheeler’s house in Tangier, where Rubber is played (almost) from dawn until (well after) dusk, only interrupted by the pouring of Pimms and the eating of delicious outdoor barbeques.

Although latterly I have introduced a few of the most useful conventions for such occasions (such as Transfers, Unassuming Cue Bids, Fourth Suit Forcing, Roman Key Card Blackwood, and Splinters), no conventions are allowed within the Club. Such an approach certainly hones your bidding judgement, as you have no tools to help.

This deal from the Portland sees me unable to ask for aces, instead guessing to pot slam. In the event, there were plenty of problems apart from aces. West led a heart, and East won the ace, then returned the seven of diamonds.

South Deals
None Vul
Q 9 3 2
K J 10 7
J 8 4
Q 5 3 2
K 9 6 3
K 10 5 3
W   E
10 8
A 6 4
7 2
J 9 8 7 4 2
A K J 6 5 4
9 8
A Q 10 5
West North East South
      1 ♠
Pass 4 ♠1 Pass 6 ♠2
Pass Pass Pass
  1. Not a shut out at Rubber.
  2. No Blackwood allowed.


Reading West for the king of diamonds (would East be crafty enough to switch away from his king?), I rose with the ace, drew trumps, finessed the queen of clubs, cashed the ace discarding a diamond, then ran all my trumps. West was squeezed on the last trump, having to discard from  Q53 and  K. Away went a heart, but I could now lead my second heart to the ten, cash the king, felling West’s queen, and follow with the promoted jack of hearts. 12 tricks and slam made.

Note that the best return for East at Trick Two is a second heart. Now you have to play for a different squeeze-ending to win, delaying the club finesse until you have played all your trumps. I'm betting I'd have taken a simple diamond finesse and gone down.

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