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World Junior

The late Eighties saw your author finish my Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Bristol University, abandon being a local supply teacher, and move to London to pursue Bridge full-time.

It did not start glamorously. I remember trying to make the accounts balance at 3am behind the Young Chelsea Bridge Club bar (they never did, and the genial owner Warwick Pitch, would always rectify them in two minutes the next morning). I remember all-night rubber sessions at the now defunct London School of Bridge (LSB) on the Kings Road, where I hosted, and, later, did my first real Bridge teaching. And I remember Junior Bridge.

I was regarded as something of a maverick: brilliant natural cardplayer, wild unreliable bidder. I was asked to play with the then number one Junior, John Pottage (who has since stopped playing). After an under-achieving start, we peaked as I neared the age-limit of 25 (thank you Mummy for giving birth to me two weeks late, on January 5th).

1989 was the beginning of a purple patch. John and I spearheaded a team win in the Common Market Championships, and then came the big one: the World Junior Team Championships in Nottingham (which we only qualified for by being the host nation).

West Deals
N-S Vul
A Q 9 7 2
7 5 3
K 8
K 10 5
K J 8 5 4
2
A Q 7 2
A 9 4
N
W   E
S
10 3
A Q 8
J 10 9 6 5
6 3 2
 
6
K J 10 9 6 4
4 3
Q J 8 7
West North East South
      (AR)
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
3 1 Pass 4 2 Pass
Pass Pass
  1. Weak Jump overcall
  2. “Andrew may be a little crazy, but he is
    vulnerable”

 

Everything went perfectly, and even misplayed hands, such as this one, turned out okay. Declaring Four Hearts as South, I successfully finessed dummy’s queen of spades at Trick One, then hurriedly discarded a diamond on the aceof spdes (a should-have-been fatal error; start trumps instead, relying on the ace of diamonds onside, and I would have been home and dry).

At Trick Three I led a trump to the jack, winning, then followed with a club. West rose with the ace and led the king of spades, allowing East to dispose of a club as I ruffed. I led a club to dummy and followed with a second trump. East won the ace (West discarding an encouraging diamond), and my fate seemed set. East would (and did) lead a diamond to his partner’s ace, and secure a club ruff. Down one.

I had one chance. When West won the ace of diamonds, I called for dummy’s king, as though I had not seen the ace. West fell for the bait, trying to cash the queen of diamonds. Breathing a sigh of relief, I could ruff, cash the king of trumps, felling East’s queen, and claim my game.
Being a World Champion felt really good, but with a tinge of sadness. My age forced me to bow out of Junior Bridge. The Challenge of the Open game awaited......

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