Independent Pursuits: Bridge

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The Independent Culture
AS PROMISED earlier, another story from the now-defunct "Masters Individual" which threw together many ill-attuned partnerships.

To set the scene, the late GCH Fox (a solid player) was faced by the late Rixi Markus (a more mercurial operator). On a totally uninteresting deal they wandered up to the Four level, were doubled, and conceded a 700-point penalty. Foxy got hold of the travelling score-sheet first and saw an unbroken sequence of small scores ranging from plus 90 to minus 100. "What sort of result is it?" demanded Rixi eagerly. To which Foxy made the justly celebrated reply "It is below average at the moment but it is still to be played at one more table!"

The deal above, from the same individual, although instructive, has, I am afraid, no bon mot as its conclusion. I was East when South opened 1 no-trumps (12-14 points) and was raised to game by North.

My partner, the late Harrison-Gray (why are they all "late" - am I the only one left?), led 45 against 3 no-trumps and dummy's queen won. Obviously the clubs had to be developed, and East had to be kept out of the lead. At trick 2 declarer came to hand with a top heart and led 25. With no hesitation, Gray followed suit with his queen.

This had all the earmarks of a singleton and, fearing that I had started with 210 8 4 3, declarer let the queen hold. Gray exited peacefully with a heart and declarer had to be satisfied with 10 tricks instead of the 11 that he might have taken. Was this a top for us? No, about average, as, for some inexplicable reason, many of the field had chosen a dangerous (and poor scoring) Five Clubs instead of 3 no-trumps. This was lucky to make and earned them only 400 points. There was no justice, even in those far-off days...