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APR_08_EB_p40-41 Debate 14/3/08 3:48 pm Page 36



is the best

form of bridge

Two top players debate a hot bridge topic. Tell us whose argument

Ian Payn has won you over by e-mailing the Editor at

ALL across the land, every night of the week two spade tricks were lost, 4♠ was likely to comes to working out how a set in a match

at clubs grand and modest, tens of thou- make. So, I had to play on spades to make is going, which is fair enough. If you divine

sands of players sit down to play match- ten tricks in no-trumps by taking the correctly what’s needed on a particular

pointed pairs. Twenty-four boards of cut- double finesse, risking the contract if occasion, then you’ve done the right thing,

and-thrust and then the travellers are RHO had K-Q (-x) (-x). What happened haven’t you? So you deserve to win. (By the

gathered (for the sake of imagery I’m going at the table was that when I placed the way, it’s always better to claim afterwards

back in time about twenty years), the spade jack on the table, we had a little that any ‘tactical’ effort was based on a

designated scorer puts a lot of 2s, 1s and 0s wobble from LHO, so we were all right, cold calculation of what was needed. It’s

down the side, transfers these to a recap- and made five diamond tricks, four spades so much better for the image than saying:

itulation sheet and hurrah! A winner is an- and two clubs. Eleven tricks. This was a ‘I was a bit bored and fancied a punt.’)

nounced, and master points awarded, along complete top, and the opponents were The major knock-out competitions in

with a modest prize, perhaps. Nothing furious, so all was well with the world. this country are popular for the reason

wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that Except it was madness. I’d bid poorly – I that to win them you have to have beaten

at all. It just isn’t bridge. Or isn’t really. should have trusted partner for a five-card everybody that you played, and to do that

When you play teams, doing the right spade suit and didn’t. Then, despite having you had to be better on the day. As these

thing is all-important. Bidding carefully to landed in a cast-iron contract, I was forced campaigns reach their later stages, and the

the right contract, and once in it, playing to play unsafely to do well. As a result of matches get longer, better players know

safely. This is not true of match-pointed these two idiotic positions, I’d got all the that if the lesser opponents got lucky in

pairs. Take this example. match-points in my pocket. This is all very the first set it won’t matter. Sooner or later

Playing with a new partner (funny, the well for a pairs game down at the club, but better play will prevail. The 12 IMPs lost on

old ones don’t seem to return my phone it really won’t do in a serious game. C’est a dodgy slam will be recovered by better

calls), I picked up a good hand (West in magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le pont. judgement on three part-score deals. This

the diagram below): A more accurate test of playing ability has to happen before the music stops and

on the night is teams of four. The team a chair is taken away, but it normally will.

that plays better will win. That’s not to If you want a convenient game of bridge

♠ J 10 9 ♠ A8765 decry luck, or punting, or good judgement any day of the week, and are prepared to

♥ K87




♥ Q3 as it’s known when it comes off – one take your chances and have a bit of fun, then

♦ AKQJ9 S ♦ 10 8 7 6 2 might find oneself in a team that’s a bit pairs is the game for you, but if you want a

♣ AQ ♣ 5 down in a match which, on form, could go true test of skill, enter a few knock-out

either way. If a flat set is of no use, then teams competitions. I speak as someone

generating a swing may be the only way to whose finest performance in the Gold Cup

West North East South win. Personally, I rarely have any idea how involved an overnight stay in Manchester

1♣ a set is going: all those magazine articles prior to a sixth-round match. After an early

Dble 3♣ 3♠ Pass that describe experts knowing that they’d start, my team finally got an IMP on the

3NT All Pass got 2 IMPs back because they went one off score-card just prior to the tea and biscuits

in 3 ♦ baffle me. However, most of us being wheeled out. But I recognised the

A club was led, and dummy went down. I could work out that if the first seven boards quality of the opponents, and wasn’t in the

viewed the future with some alarm. I could of a set have gone 1NT–3NT with nine slightest bit bitter. I wouldn’t say that I

make the contact trivially enough by cold tricks on any lead, then we need a didn’t whinge a mite on the drive home

setting up a heart trick (five diamonds, plus score on the last board. I suspect that afterwards, but I’d stopped by Watford. And

two clubs, a heart and a spade) but this most readers of English Bridge are some- with teams, there are more people making

wasn’t going to be good enough. Even if where between these two extremes when it up the captive audience in the car . . .

36 English Bridge April 2008


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