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Nicely Played

I played less Tournament Bridge during the mid-Nineties. I managed The Acol Bridge Club in 1993/4, then, after a brief pause, started my own club in September 1995 above a pub in Chelsea.

The Andrew Robson Bridge Club grew beyond my wildest dreams, necessitating a move to Parsons Green (in 1999) to our own dedicated premises. It now has some 2000 members (I am told this makes it the biggest Bridge Club in the world). I also started writing on Bridge: for the Oldie, then the Spectator, The Express on Sunday, and Country Life (for which I still write weekly to this day). Less time for playing was certainly a regret, but reaching out to thousands through my writing and teaching is perhaps more worthwhile.

My partnership with Tony Forrester was nearing its natural conclusion (we stopped playing in 1997), but we did have a few more moments to savour. Take the international match against Indonesia in 1996.

Tony and I had a spectacular disaster to end spectacular disasters, going for 3400 in Three Spades redoubled (down six). [I passed Tony in an SOS “get me out of here” redouble; our trump suit was 6542 facing 8; I recall he played it rather well to make three tricks]. This was the very next deal:

West Deals
None Vul
J 5 3
K 10
A Q 6 4 3 2
J 3
K 10 9 8 6
J 8 6 4 2
7 5
W   E
A Q 7 4
Q 7 3
K J 9
K 9 2
A 9 5
10 8
A Q 10 8 7 6 4
West North East South
2 ♣1 2  4 ♠ 5 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl All Pass
  1. Weak with both majors (5-4 or5-5)


Declaring Five Clubs doubled after a revealing auction, the defence led two rounds of spades. East’s likely trump holding was Kxx. I could pick up his trumps via a finesse, but would need both of dummy’s trumps, and therefore could not afford to ruff the third heart.

Needing to make something of the diamonds, I ran the ten of the suit at Trick Two. East won the jack, and exited with a small heart. This gave me a less interesting way of getting home, able to play low from hand, beat West’s jack with the ace, run dummy’s ten, and then lead the jack of trumps. But I did not need to rely on East having a heart honour.

Instead rising with the ace of hearts, I played a diamond to the ace, then led the jack of trumps. East played low (as he had to -cover and I could ruff a heart), but now I switched tacks, ruffing a diamond to set up the suit, crossing to the king of hearts, and leading a promoted long diamond.

If East ruffed, I could overruff, ruff a heart, and the king of trumps would fall under the ace. If East discarded, I could throw my losing heart, then lead the second trump and finesse against East’s king. 11 tricks, game made, and a generous, "Nicely played," from Tony (who was naturally still smarting from the -3400).

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