Pursuits: Bridge

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THE MASTERS Individual used to be a highlight on the bridge calendar. As a promising young player, I made a solitary appearance in the mid-Fifties, after which the event was discontinued - I wonder why? It always led to a variety of colourful, if temporary and incompatible, partnerships.

I can remember a temperamental player (TP) pitted with a rather weaker partner (RWP). An opponent pre-empted, RWP made a dubious overcall, he was raised to game, and was doubled. In a vain attempt to escape for the loss of 800 points, RWP ended by conceding 1,400. He studied his personal score card for some while, then, in the column headed "Estimated Match- point Score" entered a firm, round 0. TP, who until now had maintained an uncharacteristic silence, now observed "At last, partner, I have found a department of the game where we are in complete agreement!"

More "Individual" stories another time, but I remember this deal from the event in which I played. As South I opened Two Clubs - yes, only 18 points but full of promise and rich in controls with an easy game or slam in prospect, even facing a Yarborough. West overcalled with Three Clubs; after two passes, I bid Three Hearts. West passed (!) and North raised imaginatively to Five Hearts. Of course I bid one for the road, and West led 2A against the slam before switching to a spade.

My ace won and I played just one round of trumps before testing the diamonds. The safety play paid off, for two rounds of trumps would have left me a trick short if the diamonds were 5-1 and, if they were 4-2, there was no rush to draw a second trump.

To my delight, this proved to be a shared top. I doubt that it would score so well nowadays, with much improved all-round technique in both bidding and play.

East-West game; dealer South

North

4J 7 4 2

!Q J 9 7

#8 3

2Q 9 2

West East

4Q 10 9 8 3 4K 6 5

!3 !4 2

#5 #Q J 9 7 4

2A K 7 6 5 4 2J 10 8

South

4A

!A K 10 8 6 5

#A K 10 6 2

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