24 English Bridge February 2016 www.ebu.co.uk
I WENT to watch the annual Lords versus
Commons Bridge match, played at the Palace of
Westminster. I was met by the director, Rodney
Black, who took me through to the Great Hall. The
players were already gathering, and there was a fine
log fire in the grate.
'The match started in 1876,' he told me, 'when
Disraeli became the Earl of Beaconsfield and moved
to the House of Lords. He and Gladstone wanted to
preserve their rivalry, so they started an annual
whist match. There is a lot of cross-over between
bridge and politics,' he went on. 'Palmerston was the
first Prime Minister to use the word reshuffle. We
call a game-forcing bid a three-line whip and we've
incorporated the concept of the transferable bid
into our proportional representation proposals. The
Commons have Bob Blackman and John Redwood
playing for them; a formidable pair, known as
Black-wood.' He then excused himself, 'I must get
ready and collect my staff.'
He returned a few minutes later, dressed as his
alter ego, in an 18th century jacket and britches.
He rapped his staff on the floor. The players
drew out their cards for the first board and
'Order, order!' cried Black Rod, and they sorted
their hands. It was a busy afternoon for Black Rod;
despite public outcry and frequent parliamentary
inquiries, there were many faulty claims.
The deal to the right was an early board where the
Lords pair were sitting North-South:
West North East South
LotO Lord T SSD Earl C
1´ Pass 4™
West, hopeful that South's 4™ bid might have been a
splinter, asked Lord Trumpingham what he
understood by the bid. The noble Lord,
who probably thought that a splinter was a
breakaway faction of a terrorist group, gave a noncommittal
'You're obliged to tell me,' insisted West, 'It's my
right under the EBU's Freedom of Information Act.'
'I think it's a Lords-a-Leaping bid,' replied a
reluctant North, looking at his hand. 'Like in
the carol. Ten Lords-a-Leaping: he's contracting for
West - the Leader of the Opposition - led the ®K.
Earl Chiltern, the declarer, won and played a top
trump. East - the Secretary of State for Defence -
took the trick and exited with the ´J to dummy.
Declarer had no safe way back to his hand to draw
trumps. He tried playing a club, but West won and
Westminster Bridge by Simon Cochemé
Bridge with a Twist
Bridge with a Twist
Game All. Dealer North.
´ A K Q 10 6 2
t K 10 5 3
® 10 5 2
´ 9 7 5 4 ´ J
™ 6 5 ™ A 7 4 3
t A 8 2 t Q J 7 4
® K Q 6 3 ® J 9 8 7
´ 8 3
™ K Q J 10 9 8 2
t 9 6
® A 4