FEB_08_EB p36 Tolle_Smith 14/1/08 3:07 pm Page 32
Four Weddings and
a Funeral at the Tolle
sions of failure. held the biggest hand of the weekend:
And sure enough, like a familiar Richard What should he do
Curtis script, this year’s Tolle was the same ♠AK over his partner’s
old story. Despite being drawn in a tough ♥ Void opening weak two in
group with the likes of Surrey, Leicester- ♦AK854 hearts? A simple leap
Nick Smith shire, Lancashire, Sussex and Nottingham- ♣AKQJ54 to 6♣? South started
shire, my own modest little county, Oxford- with 3♣, over which
shire, hovered in the top two for most of North jumped to 4♥.
Hugh Grant to Andie MacDowell the tournament despite one brute of a What next? South decided to cue-bid his
on ex-partners: ‘So what is a fair run hand first thing on Sunday morning spades but North was not on the same
these days, down your way?’ against Notts where two of our pairs bid a wavelength and passed!
respectable slam which depended This was the full deal:
OLD-fashioned souls may still pair off for (essentially) on playing a trump suit of
life but serial monogamy has been the 10-8-6-5-3 opposite A-K-9-7 for no losers.
story of my bridge-playing life. I own up When you start with the ace from dummy, Game All. Dealer North.
to twenty-two regular partners (to date) the queen falls on your right. With no ♠7652
but only with nine of them have I gone the other clue to work on, both our declarers ♥ K Q J 10 7 6
whole way. To the likes of Hinckley, that is, applied the Principle of Restricted Choice, ♦J2
for the ultimate test of any relationship – only to lose to queen-jack doubleton. ♣2
the Tollemache Qualifier. Both Notts East-Wests stopped in game, ♠ Q83 ♠ J 10 9 4
It was good to reminisce on the way up. so this was a net 88 IMP swing. A 10-10 ♥ A92 W
Number one . . . kinda nice; number two VP draw (if PRC works) became a 2-18 VP ♦ 763 S ♦ Q 10 9
. . . odd! numbers three and four . . . defeat. ♣ 10 9 7 3 ♣86
sensitive, caring, intelligent, but bridge-wise As we limped to the close, our total of ♠AK
a real low patch; number five . . . so sweet 100 VPs seemed to leave us in third place ♥ Void
but she broke my heart; numbers six and behind Surrey (122) and Lancashire (104) ♦AK854
seven . . . ugh, beards far too long. Number but, half an hour and one successful appeal ♣AKQJ54
eight . . . wore out his welcome with random later, we were through to the final on a split
Precision. And so to number nine, yet tie. The team departed in triumph only to
another beardie called Alan! discover the following day that a single score I led the ace of hearts against 4♠ and was
For me the Tollemache is a microcosm had been wrongly entered (by Surrey) and a little surprised when this was trumped
of all my bridge relationships. It has every we were back down to third behind Lancs. with the ace. Declarer cashed the king of
ingredient: the fireworks at the beginning, Sic transit gloria, yet again. And after all the spades and the ace of clubs, and then
the dreams of permanence, the wild celebrations, a belated funeral. ruffed a club in order to lead a trump off
Saturday evenings, the utterly sleepless One of the dafter hands of the weekend table. When declarer showed out, I had a
nights, the mornings after the nights before, came against a very strong pair (their quick chortle and overtook partner’s nine
the nightmare of tears, recriminations, names, as well as the name of their county, with the queen. Not content with that, I
occasional bloodshed and eventual admis- are withheld to protect the guilty). South then found the misère return of my last
spade, drawing dummy’s final trump.
Partner was compelled to win the trick –
and there is no defence from here to beat
2007 TOLLEMACHE CUP QUALIFIER the contract! At length he tried the ten of
THE Tollemache Cup is the national inter-county teams-of-eight competition. There diamonds, and was mightily relieved
is a qualifying round in November consisting of four groups of approximately nine when South rose with the ace. Now
teams, seeded on the basis of the previous year’s success. The top two teams in each declarer had to concede a diamond and a
group then progress to the final held in February, an all-play-all round-robin.
trump for one off. Only my partner
emerged blameless from this débacle, I
This year, the qualifiers were Kent, East Wales, Surrey, Lancashire, Gloucestershire,
Norfolk, Cambs & Hunts, and Middlesex. It is the first time ever that a team from
All in all, the Tolle was great fun and I
Wales has qualified for the final.
will hope to be back next year, with or
without partner number nine!
32 English Bridge February 2008 www.ebu.co.uk