AUG_08_EB_p62 Hoffman 16/7/08 11:50 am Page 58
A day in the life of . . . Martin’s Top Tip
Martin Hoffman Count the hand – then the bidding
will tell you how to play!
THIS tip applies to all play situations,
Martin Hoffman is reputedly the best pairs player in the world, but is especially useful when you have
a two-way finesse:
and has enjoyed a long string of successes both in the UK and abroad.
He was also the winner of ‘Master Bridge’, the 1982 Channel 4 TV tournament contested N/S Game. Dealer East. Pairs.
by bridge stars such as Omar Sharif , Zia Mahmood and Rixi Markus. ♠ KQ6
♥ 10 7 5
I USUALLY wake up around 7am. I have played the game before, I won. The same ♣ AQ2
never needed much sleep, but I do need a thing happened when, some time later, a ♠ J8432 ♠ 10 9 5
good breakfast, which I usually prepare friend asked me to play rubber bridge with ♥ 8 W E
myself. I am an avid reader of the news, so him at a local club. Success spurred my inte- ♦ Q93 S ♦7
I take my time over coffee and cereals, and rest, and I set to learning the game by ♣ J943 ♣ 875
read the newspaper. I enjoy this ritual but watching great players such as Terence ♥ A32
I will also read any other newspaper that Reese at play. When I won my first dupli- ♦ A 10 8 4 2
comes my way later during the day. cate, I was ready to pack in the diamond ♣ K 10 6
Having found out what’s new in the trade and take up a job as a bridge host.
world, I settle down to writing. Thirteen of Mainly, I am still doing that. Nowadays West North East South
my books have been Audrey and I divide
Pass 4NT All Pass
published, and there is our time between 1
Weak, 5-9, six-card suit
always at least one London and Lauder-
more in the pipeline. hill, Florida, but the Once West leads a heart and you win
Terence Reese, my pattern of the day is East’s jack with your ace, you cannot
friend and first editor, the same. I may afford to lose the lead. Don’t guess the
position of the ♦Q: cash all your black-
used to say that I could sometimes have lunch
suit winners first, and note that East
not write without help at home first, but I shows up with three cards in each. As
from my wife, Audrey. soon set off for the East opened 2♥, he must have six
I think that was put- club for an afternoon hearts and so can have only one dia-
ting it a bit strong! But of rubber bridge. I mond. Cash your ♦A in case the sin-
maybe Audrey is right often walk there, as gleton is the ♦Q, then finesse against
West for two overtricks!
Photo: Elena Jeronimidis
when she says that, left that is one physical
to my own devices, activity I do enjoy.
my books would all Once at the club, I the UK, the US, India, Iran, France, Austria,
be written in a few play for the house: Germany – wherever they happen to be
days since I rattle off it means I only receive from, as long as they are pleasant people
hands at the speed of half of my winnings, and don’t mind paying my fees! I am
lightning! but I don’t have to pay table money or available for rubber and duplicate, club and
I know I tend to do that, but then bridge worry about paying for food. This arran- congress events everywhere in the world.
is my life, though I fell into it by chance. I gement suits me: my game is a lot sharper This does not leave much time for family
was born in Czechoslovakia, and, aged 15, if I am not risking my own money! life, but Audrey is very supportive and does
was liberated from Buchenwald by the That’s not to say that I don’t like a bit of not mind keeping herself busy teaching
US Army who made me their mascot. My gambling. In fact, when I was younger, I bridge and playing tennis or golf. We don’t
family had died in the Holocaust so, after was heavily into betting on the dogs; I have children, but are lucky in that we could
two years in rehabilitation, I went to live eventually lost huge sums and was very always play parents (now grandparents) to
with a family in Finchley and worked as a lucky when the bookies wrote off my debts. our friends’ offsprings. I really enjoy the
diamond cutter. It was not a bad life: at a Nowadays, dog racing is still one of my company of children and love telling them
time when a policeman was earning £5 a passions but I keep control of the size of stories and keeping them entertained.
week, I brought home £45! In spite of the my bets and limit the number of my visits Although they tend to go off me as they
money, and satisfactions such as meeting to the track, where I go with my friend grow up, they have well repaid my interest
the then Princess Elizabeth – for whom Moeshe. I can often be found at the in them. It was because of my friendship
my company made an engagement ring – Betting Office in the morning, though, with their little girl that my Finchley family
working conditions were not healthy, and studying the form for a couple of hours. took me in and gave me a start in my
after eleven years I was ready for change. Most of my time, however, is spent play- English life, and later, another little girl was
The family with whom I lived was keen ing bridge. I only ever play professionally, key to another rewarding friendship, with
on card games, and I picked them up easily. and am not worried by the standard of my her parents, Judy Dench and Michael
When one day I was asked to play in a whist partners. I am not worried by their nation- Williams. Lovely people – but what a shame
drive, I said yes and although I had never ality either: I have partnered players from they did not play bridge!
58 English Bridge August 2008 www.ebu.co.uk