BRIDGE WITH A TWIST
Chess (music by Björn and Benny of Abba, lyrics by Tim Rice)
was a big hit in the West End in 1986. Bridge’s response is long overdue!
‘HANG on a minute,’ I hear you cry. ‘What Set in San Diego, My Fair (Little Old) Lady This is the synopsis: Overture (Bridge
about A Hand of Bridge?’ Yes, indeed, but features a bridge club run by Miss Ruling. over Troubled Water). Act I: The scene is a
it isn’t exactly a musical. A Hand of Bridge, Expert Henry Huddle takes on the chal- bridge club, run by St. John Pepper. While
composed by Samuel Barber, is the short- lenge of partnering Eliza Bidlittle and tur- preparing for the evening’s duplicate, he
est opera that is regularly performed, ning her into a National Champion. Songs reflects on the decline of bridge in the
lasting less than ten minutes. Two couples include Get Me to the Game on Time, I capital (London Bridge is Falling Down).
play a hand of bridge, during which each Could Have Played All Night, Why Can’t a Regina is in a troubled relationship with
character has an arietta. It was first Woman Play More Like a Man? and I’ve Jacques and believes he doesn’t really love
performed in Spoleto, Italy, in 1959. Grown Accustomed to Her Bids. her (Wooden Heart). Lucy, a free spirit,
The synopsis reads: The contract is five picks up a wonderful hand with eight
hearts, played by Bill, after the opponents diamonds (Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best
competed in clubs. Bill, a lawyer, recalls a Friend). She overbids and the other three
former lover and wonders where she is now. players comment (Lucy in the Sky with
Geraldine, his wife, laments not loving her Diamonds). She is extremely fortunate
dying mother while she was still well. David that her partner, Francisco, puts down an
fantasises about what he would do if he were excellent dummy and Regina and Jacques
as rich as his boss. Finally, Sally (dummy) eye it jealously (I Wanna Hold Your Hand).
recalls a hat she saw in a shop window Lucy plays poorly. With three tricks left,
earlier in the day. she realises she has cut herself off from a
What on earth is going on here? It seems winner in dummy (I Left My Heart in the
that the librettist was not a bridge player. Hand of Francisco), while Regina and
Surely Bill should be recalling the bidding Jacques console Francisco (Your Tiny Hand
and wondering where the king of spades is Frozen).
is. Geraldine should be lamenting not Act II: A new member, Roy, has joined
having re-called her six-card diamond the bridge club and Regina wonders
suit. David should be fantasising about whether he could be right for her (From a
ducking the king of spades when Bill takes Jack to a King). She is partnering Lucy.
the finesse. Only Sally, recalling that hat, is MFLOL is fun. My only regret is that it Regina makes a trial bid (Help) but Lucy
blameless; following the play as dummy doesn’t include that well-known song thinks it shows a control (Stupid Cuebid)
can be very tiring when thoughts of milli- about the reluctance of Spanish women to and they end up in a slam. The trumps
nery are intruding. bid slams, The Dames in Spain Stay Mainly break badly, but Regina makes the con-
It gets worse. I found a performance on in the Game. If you are into amateur dra- tract by ruffing a winner in hand to
YouTube where the bidding starts while matics and would like to do the show, shorten her trumps. The players celebrate
the dealing is still in progress. There are please let me know and I will put you in her coup and dance to an instrumental
frequent bids out of turn, so much so that touch with the American producer. number (Trump it Voluntarily). Roy is
it seems as if it is North-East who have the Now on to my creation, Bridge: The impressed and says he will give Regina a
heart fit. And dummy goes down before Musical. I have gone for the Mamma Mia! ring. She interprets the word optimisti-
the opening lead, which then comes from formula, taking well known songs and cally (Diamonds Are Forever). The whole
the player sitting over dummy. A perfect weaving them into a story. Chess had some company then extol the virtues of bridge
case-study for an EBU class of novice risqué lyrics (‘I don't see you guys rating/ while the proprietor sings of a hand with
tournament directors! the kind of mate I'm contemplating’) and 0-7-0-6 distribution (St. John Pepper’s
There is a bridge musical in the States I am sure I can match them by altering a Lovely Heart-Club Hand).
that has been performed at ACBL couple of the songs to include squeeze and Sounds good, eh? Has anyone got Andrew
(American Contract Bridge League) events. protecting her honour. Lloyd Webber’s phone number? r
42 English Bridge October 2011 www.ebu.co.uk