MASTERING bridge takes time. There are no overnight sensations; everyone must first serve an apprenticeship. This is because learning bridge is more about getting the hang of it than it is an intellectual exercise. You have to get a feel for the way partners communicate with each other and you have to get a feel for the cards. The problem is complicated because some of the cards are always hidden, forcing you to learn to think about risk management.
Teaching bridge, as I do, I often see clever people getting frustrated with their slow progress. They can take consolation from the fact no one has become a major force without five years experience and few make it before their mid-20s.
It was therefore surprising to read an article, The Dark Side of Pre-empting’’, in the latest magazine. The writer, 10-year-old David Soukup of the US, shows a level of understanding one would not expect in someone so young.
He tells the story from the South point of view. It was far from clear what he should bid at his first turn but he luckily settled on six notrumps, not seven. West kept the defence’s hopes alive by leading a heart, not a spade, but Soukup soon showed them who was boss. He ran a few red winners before leading a club. West had to duck to prevent giving the declarer the whole club suit but a second club went to West’s now bare ace and the enforced spade return gave Soukup his slam.
Soukup taught himself to play through an online beginners course. Besides bridge, he enjoys cooking, basketball, mathematics and West 4 all pass North 5 East pass South 6NT everything He also plays the cello and speaks German. Deal two also comes from
The author is former world champion Mike Lawrence of the US.
Incidentally, Lawrence once said to me that it was not until he had been playing for three years that the fog suddenly lifted. He said he was just sitting there in a local duplicate when, for no reason, he could suddenly see how the game worked. The moral of this story, of course, is to stay on the job. Your epiphany may be just one game away!
Back to deal two. West led the 10 of spades against 3NT. Declarer won with the king and played on clubs. But the contract was doomed when it was West who won the ace of clubs. A spade return from West allowed East to take four spade tricks as well as the ace of hearts. Bad luck?
No bad play. From the bidding, it is clear that East has the A J. Declarer should therefore cover the 10 of spades with the queen in dummy. Now the K 9 are good for two tricks and the contract is unbreakable. Paul Marston