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The Independent Culture
COLLECTIONS of hands are usually good value but readers have mixed feelings about the activities of fictional or historical characters at the bridge table. Skid Simon started the trend with his immortal quartet (Mrs Cuggenhem, Mr Smug, Futile Willie and the Unlucky Expert) and was followed by Victor Mollo with his Menagerie. Subsequent writers have been less readable, but David Bird usually strikes oil. After his Abbott and his Witchdoctor series we now have The Bridge Adventures of Robin Hood (Batsford, pounds 8.99). Having chosen the title, would not David Greenwood of Ireland been an apposite co-author?

South (Robin Hood) opened One Spade, West overcalled with Two Diamonds, North raised to Three Spades, and South went on to game. West led the nine of hearts against Four Spades and, after winning in dummy, declarer drew trumps in two rounds.

It seemed unlikely, after West's overcall, that either the ace of diamonds or the king of clubs would be right, so declarer crossed to dummy's other top heart and made the key play - a diamond to the eight. West won with the ten, cashed the ace and - he thought - exited with queen of diamonds.

That was his intention but, on the third diamond, declarer discarded his losing heart. West was end-played - whether he led a club or conceded a ruff and discard, declarer had his tenth trick.